distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

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distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby dakini_boi » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:41 am

Why is refuge considered an "uncommon" preliminary? I thought refuge is an essential part of all Buddhist paths.
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby sangyey » Mon Dec 19, 2011 12:58 am

Perhaps referring to 'inner refuge' of lama, yidam, and dakini?
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby ngodrup » Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:32 am

In the Dudjom Tersar: Refuge is in the Lama who embodies the 3 jewels.

In the Nam Cho: Refugee is in Buddha Samantabhadra/Samantabhadri yab-yum
as the embodiment of Dzogchen.

Also, it is said in the commentaries that the 4 thoughts are the basis of
all spirituality, not necessarily Buddhist, but refuge is uncommon in that
it is not common with non-Buddhists.
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Tenzin » Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:36 am

dakini_boi wrote:Why is refuge considered an "uncommon" preliminary? I thought refuge is an essential part of all Buddhist paths.

The reason why ngondro's refuge is considered uncommon lies in the fact that it is the Mahayana refuge. It differs from the Hinayana refuge and in this way is not common for all transcendent Buddhist paths.

There are 3 aspects that usually characterize the difference: intention [for taking refuge], object [in which we take refuge] and time [for which we take refuge].

Hinayana practitioners take refuge with the intention to liberate themselves from Samsara, and to attain Nirvana (i.e. Arhat or Pratyekabuddha). Mahayana practitioners take refuge with the intention to liberate all beings from Samsara and Nirvana so that all beings attain Mahanirvana (i.e. Buddha).

As for the object Hinayana practitioners take refuge in Realized Buddha as the guide to Nirvana, in Dharma as the path to it, and in Sangha as companions on that path. Mahayana practitioners take refuge in Realized Buddha as the guide to Mahanirvana, in Dharma as the path to it, and in Sangha as companions on that path. :bow:

Moreover, since according to Hinayana view beings don't have Buddha Nature, only Mahayana practitioners take refuge in their own nature - Buddha Nature, resolving to realize it.

Hinayana practitioners take refuge for the time until they become Arhat or Pratyekabuddha. Mahayana practitioners take refuge for the time until they become Buddha.
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Paul » Fri Dec 23, 2011 11:07 am

Namdrol's pointed out that the four uncommon practices are all a form of guru yoga - so I guess that's one reason why the refuge is uncommon.
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Dave The Seeker » Fri Dec 23, 2011 1:07 pm

Tenzin wrote:The reason why ngondro's refuge is considered uncommon lies in the fact that it is the Mahayana refuge. It differs from the Hinayana refuge and in this way is not common for all transcendent Buddhist paths.

There are 3 aspects that usually characterize the difference: intention [for taking refuge], object [in which we take refuge] and time [for which we take refuge].

Hinayana practitioners take refuge with the intention to liberate themselves from Samsara, and to attain Nirvana (i.e. Arhat or Pratyekabuddha). Mahayana practitioners take refuge with the intention to liberate themselves from Samsara and Nirvana, and to attain Mahanirvana (i.e. Buddha).

As for the object Hinayana practitioners take refuge in Realized Buddha as the guide to Nirvana, in Dharma as the path to it, and in Sangha as companions on that path. Mahayana practitioners take refuge in Realized Buddha as the guide to Mahanirvana, in Dharma as the path to it, and in Sangha as companions on that path. :bow:

Moreover, since according to Hinayana view beings don't have Buddha Nature, only Mahayana practitioners take refuge in their own nature - Buddha Nature, resolving to realize it.

Hinayana practitioners take refuge for the time until they become Arhat or Pratyekabuddha. Mahayana practitioners take refuge for the time until they become Buddha.



Thank you for explaining this. I am new to Buddhism. From the way I understand the things I've read, we all have the Buddha Nature in us. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.
But to reach Enlightenment, we all must follow the Path of the Buddha and do all we can to follow tThe Five Precepts.

Kindest wishes
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They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Tenzin » Sat Dec 24, 2011 2:00 pm

Tenzin wrote:Hinayana practitioners take refuge with the intention to liberate themselves from Samsara, and to attain Nirvana (i.e. Arhat or Pratyekabuddha). Mahayana practitioners take refuge with the intention to liberate themselves from Samsara and Nirvana, and to attain Mahanirvana (i.e. Buddha).


I made a shameful mistake here due to my habits of selfishness :|
Actually Mahayana practitioners take refuge with the intention to liberate all beings from Samsara and Nirvana so that all beings attain Mahanirvana (i.e. Buddha). This intention is known as Bodhichitta. :)

The Seeker wrote:Thank you for explaining this. I am new to Buddhism. From the way I understand the things I've read, we all have the Buddha Nature in us. Please correct me if I'm mistaken.

But to reach Enlightenment, we all must follow the Path of the Buddha and do all we can to follow The Five Precepts.

Kindest wishes


You are right that every being's nature is Buddha. I say it as a person who trusts in the teaching of Mahayana. :namaste:

But I know that those who trust only in the teaching of Hinayana will not be agree with that. They would say that Buddha's qualities are not within us and these qualities can be obtained only through the accumulation of merit (good karma). Mahayana view is that Buddha's qualities are indeed our nature and we just need to actualize them by accumulating of merit and wisdom.

Such a view doesn't make Hinayana practiotioners bad persons. That is just a sign that they didn't accumulate enough merit and wisdom in past lifes to gain the capacity to adopt Mahayana view in this one and they just mainly focus in their intention on their own benefit (like me in the mistake I made). It is not a voice of arrogance. Any time I practice virtue with the intention to attain any type of Nirvana and without intention to bring all beings to Mahanirvana (i.e. Buddha) I actually practice Hinayana path.
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Dec 24, 2011 5:50 pm

Tenzin wrote:But I know that those who trust only in the teaching of Hinayana will not be agree with that. They would say that Buddha's qualities are not within us and these qualities can be obtained only through the accumulation of merit (good karma).
This is not true. Theravadra practices do not aim merely for the accumulation of merit, but for the realisation of the enlightenment of an Arhat (the destruction of the five poisons) as well, via the accumulation of wisdom.
That is just a sign that they didn't accumulate enough merit and wisdom in past lifes to gain the capacity to adopt Mahayana view in this one and they just mainly focus in their intention on their own benefit (like me in the mistake I made). It is not a voice of arrogance. Any time I practice virtue with the intention to attain any type of Nirvana and without intention to bring all beings to Mahanirvana (i.e. Buddha) I actually practice Hinayana path.
This is a view propounded by some Mahayana-ists in order to demean Shravakayana practitioners, please do not present it as an objective fact (unless of course you have some evidence to back it up).

Mahayana practitioners (well, all Yana practitioners actually) require the accumulation of merit and wisdom to realise their enlightened nature. Some need to accumulate (some more of) it now, others have already accumulated "enough" to allow a degree of realisation. Following the five precepts is an excellent manner to accumulate merit, practicing the Mahayana (or any Yana) is a perfect way to accumulate wisdom. Both are "necessary" for enlightenment!

Through three incalculable aeons in samsaric existence,
You sought the meaningful by binding all your thoughts
With the rope of accumulating merit and wisdom.
Then, beneath the bodhi tree, you put the maras to flight,
And attained enlightenment, as all the Buddhas do.
On the ship of the three turnings of the Wheel of Dharma, you save
Beings who rush into samsara's bottomless and endless abyss,
And ferry them to the perfect levels of liberation and omniscience: I bow to you in homage!
Excerpt from "Praise of the Twelve Acts of the Buddha" by Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa

May your journey to the realisation of your Buddha Nature be speedy and free from obstacles "The Seeker".

Now maybe it's time to get :focus:
:namaste:
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Dave The Seeker » Sat Dec 24, 2011 7:56 pm

ok back to the OP, is taking Refuge an uncommon preliminary in all traditions?

I'm very drawn to the Mahayana tradition, and it would seem that taking Refuge would "help or aid" in the accumulation of merit and wisdom. Which should really not be the goal in our actions of liberating sentient beings, but the "reward" for our proper actions.
Please once again if I'm mistaken correct me.


Thank you Greg :namaste:

Kindest wishes
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Dec 24, 2011 8:19 pm

The Seeker wrote:I'm very drawn to the Mahayana tradition, and it would seem that taking Refuge would "help or aid" in the accumulation of merit and wisdom.
Oh indeed it does! very much so!
Which should really not be the goal in our actions of liberating sentient beings, but the "reward" for our proper actions.
An outcome of proper actions is the accumulation of wisdom and merit. A reward is like something that is bestowed, but really all that happens is that right actions have positive outcomes. In Mahayana when we accumulate merit and wisdom through our actions/practices we then dedicate it all towards the liberation of all sentient beings. Of course, being a sentient being, that means that you also benefit from the dedication. :twothumbsup:
A Bodhisattva may "herd" beings towards liberation (shepherd-like bodhisattva, where the beings arrive at liberation before the Bodhisattva does), travel together with them towards liberation (helmsman/ship captain-like bodhisattva that arrives at liberation together with all beings) or the bodhisattva may attempt to reach Buddhahood as quickly as possible and then use their enlightenment to bring all beings to liberation (king-like bodhisattva). Bodhisattvas exist in all the Yana.
:namaste:
PS Maybe we can split "The Seeker" issue from the thread, as it has a different trajectory?
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby kirtu » Sat Dec 24, 2011 10:25 pm

Tenzin wrote:
dakini_boi wrote:Why is refuge considered an "uncommon" preliminary? I thought refuge is an essential part of all Buddhist paths.

The reason why ngondro's refuge is considered uncommon lies in the fact that it is the Mahayana refuge. It differs from the Hinayana refuge and in this way is not common for all transcendent Buddhist paths.


Dakini_boi - Tenzin, Paul, Nodrub and Sangey all are talking about aspects of Vajrayana refuge.

Refuge is common to all the Buddhist paths. It is what makes a person Buddhist (it distinguishes the Buddhist and non-Buddhist paths). Vajrayana refuge goes immediately to the Sambogakaya aspect in visualization. There is actually Mahayana refuge that doesn't do that (except in Tibet it does). So in non-Tibetan Mahayana one takes refuge in front of an image of a Buddha (or I suppose that they can also imagine a refuge field - actually in Zen Buddhism for example we were never taught to visualize per se and just recited the refuge prayers).

In Tibetan Mahayana that is not actually Vajrayana one imagines a form of Shakyamuni or Amitabha surrounded by all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas but generally not including tantric deities. Then one recites a prayer like Atisha's Refuge Prayer:

SANG GYE CHHÖ DANG TS'HOK KYI CHHOK NAM LA
JANG CHHUP BAR DU DAK NI KYAP SU CHHI
DAK GI JIN SOK GYI PAY SÖ NAM KYI
DRO LA P'HEN CHHIR SANG GYE DRUP PAR SHOK

In the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha
I take refuge until I am enlightened
By the merits of giving and the other perfections
May I obtain Buddhahood for the sake of all beings

There are also other Mahayana refuge prayers in Chinese, Japanese and other Mahayana traditions. In Japanese Buddhism one would usually say "Namu Amida Butsu" (the object of refuge being Amitabha Buddha although this can get complex as Japanese Pure Landers would probably say this isn't refuge per se but an expression of gratitude) and there are similar prayers in Chinese, Vietnamese (generally a form of I take refuge in the Buddha, I take refuge in the Dharma, I take refue in the Sangha) and Korea Buddhism.

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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Tenzin » Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:34 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Tenzin wrote:But I know that those who trust only in the teaching of Hinayana will not be agree with that. They would say that Buddha's qualities are not within us and these qualities can be obtained only through the accumulation of merit (good karma).
This is not true. Theravadra practices do not aim merely for the accumulation of merit, but for the realisation of the enlightenment of an Arhat (the destruction of the five poisons) as well, via the accumulation of wisdom.


I totally agree that Hinayana practitioners need to accumulate of wisdom. Here I talked about the distinction in the views on "origin" of Buddha's qualities.

According to Hinayana teachings Arhats don't differ from Buddha (who is regarded as Maha Arhat) in accumulation of wisdom (realization). That is for both there is nothing more to learn. As for the qualities of Buddha, the qualities that Arhats don't have, it is said in Hinayana teachings that these qualities are the result of Buddha's great accumulation of merit, which he practiced for 3 immeasurable kalpas (time cycles).

According to Mahayana teachings Arhats do differ from Buddha in accumulation of wisdom (realization). While Arhats eliminate clinging to the self, Arhats is not free from the clinging to phenomena. These two types of clinging are well-known two obscurations. So while for Buddha there is nothing more to learn, Arhats have some. And they do learn that after Buddha wakes them up by Buddha's light after their long rest in the peace of Nirvana, then after entering the Mahayana path they accumulate this great amount of merit and wisdom and eventually become Buddha.


gregkavarnos wrote:
Tenzin wrote:That is just a sign that they didn't accumulate enough merit and wisdom in past lifes to gain the capacity to adopt Mahayana view in this one and they just mainly focus in their intention on their own benefit (like me in the mistake I made). It is not a voice of arrogance. Any time I practice virtue with the intention to attain any type of Nirvana and without intention to bring all beings to Mahanirvana (i.e. Buddha) I actually practice Hinayana path.
This is a view propounded by some Mahayana-ists in order to demean Shravakayana practitioners, please do not present it as an objective fact (unless of course you have some evidence to back it up).


I have no intention to demean Hinayana practitioners. Some beings accumulated more merit and wisdom than others. It is true and if I assert that I don't automatically demean all those who accumulated less. I just distinguish how things are. For example, Buddha Shakyamuni accumulated more merit and wisdom than me. This fact doesn't demean me, on the contrary I strive to attain the same.

While it can be not pleasant to hear that Mahayana view is superior to Hinayana view, it is true. In short while according to Hinayana view five skandhas (composites/aggregates) are free of any self but exists absolutely, according to Mahayana view they do not absolutely (1) exist, or (2) not exist, or (3) exist & not exist, or (4) neither exist & nor not exist as they are beyond these four extremes.


gregkavarnos wrote:A Bodhisattva may "herd" beings towards liberation (shepherd-like bodhisattva, where the beings arrive at liberation before the Bodhisattva does), travel together with them towards liberation (helmsman/ship captain-like bodhisattva that arrives at liberation together with all beings) or the bodhisattva may attempt to reach Buddhahood as quickly as possible and then use their enlightenment to bring all beings to liberation (king-like bodhisattva).


According to this view shepherd-like bodhisattvas won't become Buddha until all beings are not totally liberated and helmsman/ship captain-like bodhisattvas won't become Buddha if all beings are not ready to be totally liberated.

According to scriptures of Mahayana king-like bodhisattvas become Buddha after 33 immeasurable kalpas of practice, helmsman/ship captain-like bodhisattvas become Buddha after 7 immeasurable kalpas of practice, and shepherd-like bodhisattvas become Buddha after 3 immeasurable kalpas of practice. Buddha Shakyamuni was of the last type as he perfected the path in 3 immeasurable kalpas. So according to scriptures any bodhisattva can become Buddha before all beings be totally liberated.

According to logic a moment of relative bodhichitta practice brings about a tremendous amount of merit, and a moment of absolute bodhichitta practice brings about a tremendous amount of wisdom. Now these shepherd-like and helmsman/ship captain-like bodhisattvas accumulate a tremendous amount every moment they practice bodhichitta and still can't accumulate enough to become Buddha because all beings haven't perfected these two accumulations. It's impossible that they gain more wisdom and not realize more. Eventually everyone who practice bodhichitta perfects two accumulations whether they intended to do it before other beings or not.

So the difference between these three types of Bodhisattvas is not in the result, it is in the cause - their intention. All of them intend to bring all beings to the realization of Buddha. However, in the choice of means to accomplish such a goal shepherd-like bodhisattvas do not focus on their own realization at all, helmsman/ship captain-like bodhisattvas focus on their own realization and realization of all beings equally, and king-like bodhisattvas focus primarily on their own realization.

Written not to argue, but to express another point of view :namaste:
Totally off topic though :smile:
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Tenzin » Sun Dec 25, 2011 8:41 pm

The Seeker wrote:ok back to the OP, is taking Refuge an uncommon preliminary in all traditions?

It can't be uncommon in Shravakayana tradition because its way of taking refuge is the very base of comparison ;)
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Dec 30, 2011 4:55 pm

Tenzin wrote:I totally agree that Hinayana practitioners need to accumulate of wisdom.
And Maha and Vajra yana practitioners don't? So what are mandala offerings and Ngondro practices about then? And anyway, what are you saying here? An Arhat has to accumulate wisdom whereas a Mahayana practitioner (who is a Mahayana practitioner due to the accumulation of merit and wisdom) does not need to? Or, somehow, has accumulated more merit than an Arhat? What a crock!
I have no intention to demean Hinayana practitioners. Some beings accumulated more merit and wisdom than others.
Really? So, like, you have accumulated more merit and wisdom than a once-returner then? Of course that is demeaning. It is like saying that the effort made by a Hinayana (and by this term what exactly do you mean? Shravakayana? Pratyekabuddhayana? Theravadra?) practitioner doesn't mean squat, that the best a once-returner may hope for is rebirth as a (almighty) Mahayana practitioner. Of course that is demeaning, no matter how your try to disguise it.
While it can be not pleasant to hear that Mahayana view is superior to Hinayana view, it is true.
According to a Mahayana-ist. It reminds me of the logic that Christians use: "It's true that God exists, it says so in the bible!"
According to this view shepherd-like bodhisattvas won't become Buddha until all beings are not totally liberated and helmsman/ship captain-like bodhisattvas won't become Buddha if all beings are not ready to be totally liberated.
Of course this is your somewhat skewed view of the teaching, yes! Anyway, if I remember correctly, Bodhisattvas make a vow to not enter nirvana until ALL sentient beings reach enlightenment (are freed from suffering). Now if they happen to get there "by mistake", well that's a different story altogether. If this is the case though (as you claim), then obviously Mahayana practitioners (even Bodhisattvas) require to accumulate merit to reach Buddhahood.
So the difference between these three types of Bodhisattvas is not in the result, it is in the cause - their intention.
I would say that the difference lies in their means/methods.
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:05 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
According to this view shepherd-like bodhisattvas won't become Buddha until all beings are not totally liberated and helmsman/ship captain-like bodhisattvas won't become Buddha if all beings are not ready to be totally liberated.


Of course this is your somewhat skewed view of the teaching, yes!
[/quote]


No, this is the standard presentation of two of the three main kinds of bodhicitta. In Tibetan Buddhism, we mostly use the royal bodhicitta -- i.e. I will attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.

In Zen and Chinese Buddhism in general, they mostly rely on the sheperd kind.

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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:09 pm

Namdrol wrote:No, this is the standard presentation of two of the three main kinds of bodhicitta. In Tibetan Buddhism, we mostly use the royal bodhicitta -- i.e. I will attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.

In Zen and Chinese Buddhism in general, they mostly rely on the sheperd kind.
Skewed from the angle that once again Tenzin is trying to set up a hierarchy: Shepherd and Helms-man like Bodhisattvas are deluded because, whether they like it or not, they will get enlightened anyway, thus king-like is (actually) the only way to go, by default.
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 30, 2011 5:27 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Namdrol wrote:No, this is the standard presentation of two of the three main kinds of bodhicitta. In Tibetan Buddhism, we mostly use the royal bodhicitta -- i.e. I will attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.

In Zen and Chinese Buddhism in general, they mostly rely on the sheperd kind.
Skewed from the angle that once again Tenzin is trying to set up a hierarchy: Shepherd and Helms-man like Bodhisattvas are deluded because, whether they like it or not, they will get enlightened anyway, thus king-like is (actually) the only way to go, by default.
:namaste:



Well, actually the Shepard bodhicitta is considered to most superior. The king the most practical.
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby kirtu » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:19 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Namdrol wrote:No, this is the standard presentation of two of the three main kinds of bodhicitta. In Tibetan Buddhism, we mostly use the royal bodhicitta -- i.e. I will attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.

In Zen and Chinese Buddhism in general, they mostly rely on the sheperd kind.
Skewed from the angle that once again Tenzin is trying to set up a hierarchy: Shepherd and Helms-man like Bodhisattvas are deluded because, whether they like it or not, they will get enlightened anyway, thus king-like is (actually) the only way to go, by default.
:namaste:


Manjushri is the archetype for the Shepherd Bodhisattva.

There is also an archetype for the Ferryman Bodhisattva but I've forgotten who it is.

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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Malcolm » Fri Dec 30, 2011 10:27 pm

kirtu wrote:Manjushri is the archetype for the Shepherd Bodhisattva.
Kirt


That would be Avalokiteshvara, AFAIK.
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Re: distinction between common & uncommon preliminaries

Postby Sherab Dorje » Sat Dec 31, 2011 10:58 am

Hey! Unify, don't divide -
don't make distinctions in knowing;

In this whole triple world
there's one colour, one;
great delight.
Saraha in "Tantric Treasures: Three Collections of Verse from Buddhist India"
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