Study Mirror of Dharma with Additions

Advice from Atisha's Heart

The Root Text: The Three Principal Aspects of the Path to Enlightenment


Homage to the venerable Spiritual Guide.


I will explain to the best of my ability

The essential meaning of the teachings of all the Buddhas [renunciation],

The main path of the Bodhisattvas, who have compassion for all living beings [bodhichitta],

And the ultimate path of the fortunate ones who are seeking liberation [the correct view of emptiness].


You should not be attached to worldly enjoyments,

But strive to find the real meaning of human life

By listening to and practising the instructions given here,

Which all the previous Buddhas practised with delight.


Attachment to the fulfilment of your own wishes, uncontrolled desire,

Is the main cause of all your own problems and suffering,

And there is no method to abandon it without first developing renunciation.

Thus you should apply great effort to develop and maintain pure renunciation.


When, through daily training, you develop the spontaneous thoughts:

‘I may die today’ and ‘A precious human life is so rare’,

And you meditate on the truth of karma and the sufferings of the cycle of impure life, samsara,

Your attachment to worldly enjoyments will cease.


In this way, when uncontrolled desire for worldly enjoyments

Does not arise even for a moment,

But a mind longing for liberation, nirvana, arises throughout the day and the night,

At that time pure renunciation is generated.


However, if this renunciation is not maintained

By the compassionate mind of bodhichitta,

It will not be a cause of the unsurpassed happiness, enlightenment; Therefore, you must apply effort to generate the precious mind of bodhichitta.


Swept along by the currents of the four powerful rivers [birth, ageing, sickness and death],

Tightly bound by the chains of karma so hard to release,

Ensnared within the iron net of self-grasping,

Completely enveloped by the pitch-black darkness of ignorance,

Taking rebirth after rebirth in boundless samsara,

And unceasingly tormented by the three sufferings [painful feelings, changing suffering and pervasive suffering] –

Through contemplating the state of your mothers, all living beings, in conditions such as these,

Generate the supreme mind of bodhichitta.


But even though you may be acquainted with renunciation and bodhichitta,

If you do not possess the wisdom realizing the way things really are, You will not be able to cut the root of samsara;

Therefore strive in the means for realizing dependent relationship.


When you clearly see phenomena such as samsara and nirvana, and cause and effect, as they exist,

And at the same time you see that all the phenomena you normally see or perceive do not exist,

You have entered the path of the correct view of emptiness, Thus delighting all the Buddhas.


If you perceive and believe that the appearance, phenomena,

And the empty, emptiness of phenomena,

Are dualistic,

You have not yet realized Buddha’s intention.


Through just seeing that things exist

In dependence on their mere name,

If your self-grasping reduces or ceases,

At that time you have completed your understanding of emptiness.


Moreover, if you negate the extreme of existence

By simply realizing that phenomena are just mere appearance,

And if you negate the extreme of non-existence

By simply realizing that all the phenomena you normally see or perceive do not exist,


And if you realize how, for example, the emptiness of cause and effect Is perceived as cause and effect,

Because there is no cause and effect other than emptiness,

With these realizations you will not be harmed by extreme view.


When, in this way, you have correctly realized the essential points

Of the three principal aspects of the path,

Dear One, withdraw into solitary retreat, generate and maintain strong effort

And quickly accomplish the final goal