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"Draw strength from the Unobstructed; let the Stream flow naturally." - Phadampa Sangay

Buddhist Vajrayana practices involve proverbs or mottoes used as tools of Mind Cultivation (Tibetan: lojong and lamrim), a practice made known by Chekawa already in the 1100s. First get into a deep meditative state by a suitable method, next reflect on a chosen saying or two or three in the light of "go on living", for example, and then go on living!

The following bon mots are in The Last Testamentary Teachings of the Guru Phadampa Sangay, as based on Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English rendering. The first chapter presents a series of major outlooks of Guru Phadampa Sangay's Farewell Teachings; the next presents all the recorded sayings. All are found in the book referred to at bottom of the page.

On the Text

The basis of this text are carefully translated aphorisms by Phadampa Sangay (also called Kamalashila). He seems to have flourished at the same time as Tibet's great yogi Milarepa. A traditional belief is that Phadampa Sangay (or Kamalashila) lived for several hundred years.

The name Kamalashila is the same as that of the Indian bhikshu Kamalashila, who went from India to the Land of the Snowy Ranges and taught the Dharma.

The teachings are preserved as Phadampa Sangay's last testamentary teachings to the people of Tingri, which is a town in Southern Tibet about fifty miles north-east of Lapchi, near Mount Everest. Phadampa Sangay had received profound instruction from several realized gurus and passed on essential, beneficial wisdom.

At least one page of the original text of about one hundred stanzas is missing in this text; another xylograph version of the work consists of 102 stanzas. 72 stanzas were avaiable, and have been numbered for ease of identification, and where to find them in a good book is shown too - that is where the unabbreviated sayings are found. Most of the stanzas are couplets, a few of them are of three verses.

Phadampa Sangay's yogic system parallels that of guru Padma-Sambhava. The introduction to his farewell address represents him as being near the time of his passing, and the extemporaneous teachings we have condensed below, as his last. The translator of the original sayings, Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup, passed away in 1922.


Gongs and Drums Teachings

The first part below is condensed.

May blessings rest on this!

[The disciple] Dhampa Tsharchhen approached Phadampa Sangay and supplicatingly said, "Reverend Phadampa, you are growing old and going on . . . but what are we ourselves to do?"

The guru said:


1. To give oneself to the cause of Holy Truth, is the best and highest occupation (243).

2. Wealth and riches are illusory; show not over-fondness for them (243).

3. One's kindred are alluring mirages; sever the knot of sentiment (243).

4. Ever be alert and watchful (244).

7. Abstain from even the smallest wrongful act (244).

9. Ever transient, all things change (244).

10. The rhinoceros, deep in a jungle, thinks he is immune from harm; but look, the jungle is afire! is he safe now? (244)

*The jungle is the jungle of worldliness, aflame with fires of lust, hatred, and ignorance. Like a rhinoceros man thinks himself immune from harm. - from a note by W. Y. E.-W.

11. Build even now the Vessel that can cross to the other side. (244)

12. Five armed bandits* often waylay one on the Path. (244)

*They are hatred, pride, lust jealousy, and stupidity.

14. Firmly fix your faith (245).

16. He who has the most of power may have most of evil deeds (245).

17. Hesitate not, lest you fail to gain the goal (245).

18. None can tell when grim Death will come; even now make preparations for his coming (245).

19. Hasten onward (245).

20. Prepare the means to baffle Death (245).

21. Flowers fade and die in autumn; likewise does this transient body pass (245).

24. Even now prepare efficient safeguards against Illusion (246).

29. Waste no time in foolish talk (247).

31. Think not your life a lasting good (247).

35. Drink deeply of the Stream of Consciousness (247).

36. Seek as your son the immortal (Child of) Wisdom. That is the best, never dying (247).

37. The Spear of Reason . . . has no frontier (247).

38. Guard against distraction, calm of mind, never slothful (247).

39. Draw strength from the Unobstructed; let the Stream flow naturally; no suppression should there be (247).

40. Do not hope for results while contemplating as deeply as you can (cf. 248).

41. The Sangsara and Nirvana have their source in the One Mind that is of neither form nor substance (248).

44. Robbers prowl; hidden gold they seek (248).

46. There is no need to cling to remembered desires (249).

48. Like the zephyr is the Free Mind (249).

* The Free Mind is unattached Mind in its True State, calm and transcending thought-processes.

49. The seeing of Reality cannot be described [- Till it is experienced, none can know it as it is] (249).

*Only by realization the Thatness can be known.

50. Blissful is the dawn of Wisdom (249).

51. Know objective forms and the Voidness [sunyata] to be one in essence, without circumference (249).

53. Like the frame of a violin is illusive bliss somehow (cf. 249).

54. All creation is in one's own [deep] mind (250).

56. A free and endowed human life is indeed a great Boon. (250).

58. Devote yourselves earnestly to the Dharma. (250).

59. Practise endurance in your youth and in your prime, for habit is difficult to change [for the better] when one is old (251).

62. Don't be idle, and don't give time to worthless works (251).

63. Dharma is like the sunshine: Know that now there is such Sunshine: use it wisely (251).

64. Within oneself are found the roots and causes [and antidotes] of [a great many] sorrows (252).

67. Associates who act well, help one on the Virtuous Path (252).

69. By neutralizing all the Poisons, keep in your hearts the antidote; and ever apply it (252).

*The Poisons are sloth, anger, lust, arrogance, and jealousy. In Buddhism, the antidote for sloth is diligence, for anger, love, for lust, self-control, for arrogance, humility, for jealousy, selflessness.

71. Long entertained propensities give direction to one's acts (252).

72. If you fail to grasp a meaning, pray [to the Guru, or a Dhyana Buddha in order to know aright; then that understanding will come (252).


Complete Translation

Numbers are added here for ease of identification. - T. Kinnes


1. To give oneself, body, speech, and heart, to the cause of Holy Truth,
Is the best and highest occupation, O ye Tingri folk.

2. Wealth and riches are illusory, loaned for a moments use;
Show not overfondness for them, neither hoard them, Tingri folk.

3. One's kindred are alluring visions, glamorous mirages;
Break the tie, sever the knot of sentiment, O Tingri folk.

4. Fatherland and homes are transient, even as a nomads camp; Let not fondness bind you to them; renounce all things, O Tingri folk.

5. Even on one's birthday morning, omens of one's death appear;
Ever be alert and watchful; waste not time, O Tingri folk.

6. One-pointedly devote yourself to the Sacred Dharma Path;
It shall be in the hour of death, your Guide and Boat, O Tingri folk.

7. Infallible is karmic law, ever impartial, just and sure;
Abstain from even the smallest wrongful act., O ye Tingri folk.

8. In a dream-state are all actions, however righteous they may seem;
Transcend deeds and seek ye the knowledge of the Real, O Tingri folk.

9. Ever transient is this world of ours; all things change and pass away;
For a distant journey even now prepare, O Tingri Folk.

10. The rhinoceros, deep in a jungle, thinketh he's immune from harm;
But look, the jungle is afire! is he safe now, Tingri folk?

11. Over the sea of birth and illness, age and death there is no bridge;
Build even now the Vessel that can cross it, O ye Tingri folk.

12. Narrow is the ambuscade of birth, death and the dread Bardo;
The Five Passions like armed bandits, oft waylay one on the Path. Seek the sacred Guru, he will conduct you safely, Tingri folk.

13. Once when found the sacred Guru is never afterward is lost.
Visualize him overhead and worship him, O Tingri folk.

14. Should the Guru will to do so, he can reach one anywhere.
Firmly fix your faith and reverence on your Guru, O Tingri folk.

15. He that hath the most of money may have the most of avarice.
Impartially, to everyone, give ye alms, O Tingri folk.

16. He that hath he most of power may have the most of evil deeds.
Hanker not for worldly power, O ye folk of Tingri land.

17. Hesitate not, neither tarry, lest ye fail to gain the Goal;
Be brave of heart and fixed of mind even now, O Tingri folk.

18. None can tell when Death, that grim spectral enemy, will come.
Even now make preparations for his coming, Tingri folk.

19. None can help one on the morrow after Death hath cut one off;
Hasten onward, ever goalward; win the Race, O Tingri folk.

20. Surely, like the shades of evening slowly merging into night,
Grim Death, pausing not a moment, cometh nearer hour by hour;
Even now prepare the means to baffle him, O Tingri folk.

21. Fair are the flowers in summer, then they fade and die in autumn;
Likewise doth this transient body bloom and pass, O Tingri folk.

22. Glorious is this human body when illumined by life's light;
Fearful like the demons host, is the sight of it when dead;
Perfidious its allurements ever are, O Tingri folk.

23. Men meet a mart, and then, when all their trading is done, they part;
So from kindred and from friends shall ye be parted, Tingri folk.

24. Know for certain that illusion's shaky building will fall down;
Even now prepare efficient safeguards, O ye Tingri folk.

25. The Eagle of the Mind is sure to take its flight with wings spread free;
Train yourselves to fly as freely, even now, O Tingri folk.

26. All the beings of the Six Realms have been our loving parents;
Meditate with love and kindness towards each one, O Tingri folk.

27. Harmful foes, inciting wrong thoughts are illusions karma wrought;
Thoughts of vengeance, harm and hatred cast away, O Tingri folk.

28. Pilgrimage and doing reverence purge the body of its faults;
Worldly business put aside; it is never finished, Tingri folk.

29. Chanting the prayers of refuge, purgeth foulness from the tongue,
Waste no time in foolish talking; chant your prayers, O Tingri folk.

30. Humble faith, and pure devotion purge the mind of wrongful thoughts;
Meditate the gracious Guru overhead, O Tingri folk.

31. Bones and flesh, though born together, in the end must separate.
Think not your life a lasting good; soon it endeth, Tingri folk.

32. Seek the True State, firm and stable, of the Pure Mind; hold it fast;
That is forever the Enduring and the Changeless, Tingri folk.

33. Grasp the Mind, the holy treasure, best of riches of man's life;
That is the only lasting treasure, O ye folk of Tingri land.

34. Seek and enjoy the sacred elixir of meditation;
Once samadhi hath been tasted, hunger endeth, Tingri folk.

35. Drink ye deeply of the nectar of the Stream of Consciousness;
'Tis perennial, thirst assuaging, cool and pure, O Tingri folk.

36. Seek as your son the ever fair, immortal Child of Wisdom;
That is the best and noblest offspring, never dying, Tingri folk.

37. Brandish the Spear of Reason aloft in the Voidness of space;
Aspiration hath no frontier, nor obstruction, Tingri folk.

38. Keep alert the Unrestricted, as a guard against distraction;
Be calm of mind but never slothful, O ye folk of Tingri land.

39. Draw strength from the Unobstructed; let the Stream flow naturally;
No suppression, no indifference, should there be, O Tingri folk.

40. Seek in your minds the Bodies that are fourfould and inseparable;
Neither hoping, neither fearing for results, O Tingri folk.

41. The Sangsara and Nirvana have their source in the One Mind;
But that Mind itself hath neither form nor substance, Tingri Folk.

42. Likes and dislikes leave no traces, like the flight of birds through the air;
Cling not to experiences; ever changing are they, Tingri folk.

43. Unborn Truth, the Dharma-Kaya, like the Orb that giveth day,
Waxeth not nor ever waneth in its radiance, O Tingri folk.

44. Rebellious thoughts are a house abandoned wherein robbers prowl;
Hidden gold they seek within it, but they find none, Tingri folk.

45. Sensuousness is ever-fleeting, like the ripples on a pond;
Seek ye not the ever-fleeting; 'tis delusive, Tingri folk.

46. Though desires remembered charm one, as a rainbows colours do,
No need is there to cling to them; show not weakness, Tingri folk.

47. Bright and effulgent is the Mover, like the Sun when free from clouds;
In your own mind [in its darkness], place no trust, O Tingri folk.

48. Like the zephyr is the Free Mind, unattached to any thought;
For no object have attachment; transcend weakness, Tingri folk.

49. The seeing of Reality, like a dream by one that's dumb,
Cannot be described in language to another, Tingri folk.

50. Blissful is the dawn of Wisdom, like a virgin's wedding night;
Till experienced none can know it as it is, O Tingri folk.

51. Forms objective and the Voidness, in their essence, know as one;
Without circumference and without centre are they, Tingri folk.

52. Uncontrolled thoughts like the gazings of a belle into her mirror,
Lead not to spiritual insight; know this truth, O Tingri folk.

53. Like the frame and mounts of a violin are illusive bliss and pain;
From the primary come the secondary causes, Tingri folk.

54. All creation, within and without, is contained in one's own mind,
Like the water in ice; seek to know this truly, Tingri folk.

55. The erring Wheel of Ignorance, like the moisture in a meadow,
Never can be checked, though one trieth every means, O Tingri folk.

56. This human life, endowed and free, is indeed the greatest boon;
Piteous are they who waste it aimlessly, O Tingri folk.

57. Like the magic Chintamani is the Great Path of the Truth,
Hard indeed to find, though sought for everywhere, O Tingri Folk.

58. Life-maintaining food and raiment in some manner will be found;
So devote yourselves, most earnestly, to the Dharma, Tingri folk.

59. Practice hardships and endurance in your youth and in your prime;
Difficult to change is habit when one's old, O Tingri folk.

60. If when any passion dawneth there be sought the antidote,
Infallibly all the symptoms will be cured, O Tingri folk.

61. Evermore bear in your hearts the pain and sorrow of the world;
Faith thereby regaineth vigour; trim your lamps, O Tingri folk.

62. Life is transitory, like the morning dewdrops on the grass;
Be not idle, nor give time to worthless works, O Tingri folk.

63. Like the sunshine from a clear space twixt the clouds the Dharma is;
Know that now there is such Sunshine; use it wisely, Tingri folk.

64. Though one thinketh joys and sorrows come of causes opposite,
Yet within oneself are found their roots and causes, Tingri folk.

65. If excess of faith should lead you to contempt of the truth at times,
Meditate karmic results in the Sangsara, Tingri folk.

66. Associates whose acts are wrong tend to make one's own like theirs;
Keep yourselves detatched from friendships that mislead one, Tingri folk.

67. Associates whose acts are right help one on the Virtuous Path;
In the Wise and Holy have unwavering trust, O Tingri folk.

68. Delusions born of Ignorance are the root of every ill,
Keep the Knower ever watchful and controlled, O Tingri folk.

69. By neutralizing all the Poisons, ye shall cut the Journey short;
Keep in your hearts the antidote; e'er apply it, Tingri folk.

70. Not From the effort that's half-hearted cometh perfect Buddhahood;
Evermore be clad in Wisdom's armour, O ye Tingri folk.

71. Propensities long entertained give direction to one's acts;
Deeds that have been done in past time recollect not, Tingri folk.

72. If ye fail to grasp a meaning, [to the Guru] make ye prayer;
Doubt ye not that understanding then will come, O Tingri folk.

[All the aphorisms are on pages 243-52 in the book referred to, and some of them are furnished with footnote explanations by W. Y. Evans-Wentz.]


Phadampa Sangay, Kamalashila, Mahayana, Vajrayana, Tibetan Buddhism, Literature  

Evans-Wentz, W. ed: The Tibetan Book of the Great Liberation or the Method of Realizing Nirvana through Knowing the Mind. London: Oxford University Press, 1968. ⍽▢⍽; The fourth and final book in the Tibetan series from Dr Walter Y. Evans-Wentz, it tells of a mental yoga practice called the Supreme Path. Padma-Sambhava brought this yoga to Tibetan Buddhists in the 700s. Dr. Evans-Wentz was a student of the Sikkim translator for years, and has got world renown for these four works. The original was first published in 1954 (same publishers), and there are no text changes in this edition, only expanded preliminary matter, with a psychological commentary by Carl Gustav Jung. A new translation called Self-Liberation Through Seeing With Naked Awareness (etc.) (tr. John M. Reynolds, 2nd ed. Snow Lion, Boston, 2010), could be useful as well. The treasure text, terma, is said to be a work by Padma Sambhava and later rediscovered. - The text expounds Dzogchen ("Great Perfection") views on the best enlightenment path. There are meditation practices aimed at realizing the state of Great Perfection too. Dzogchen is central in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and is also practiced in other schools.

Harvesting the hay

On many pages are simple markers, brackets and some symbols. What they stand for and how they are used for academic harvesting is shown on the page that the 'Gain-Ways link below will open.

Harvesting the hay

Symbols, brackets, signs and text icons explained: (1) Text markers(2) Digesting.

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