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Words of Wisdom

The Stages of Entry into Reality: Selections from “The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Volume 3,” Part 1 of 2

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The Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism was founded by Tsongkhapa Lobsang Drakpa, also known as the revered Je Rinpoche. Je Rinpoche, whose birth and spiritual connection with the Manjushri Bodhisattva was foretold by the World-Honored One, Shakyamuni Buddha, entered monastic life at age seven. Je Rinpoche also wrote several books, including “The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment.” This book offers a unifying perspective on all Buddhist teachings. Volume 3 highlights the Buddhist concept of the five aggregates, which correspond to the physical senses as well as our mental and emotional interpretation of physical experience. Now we'd like to present selections from Volume 3 of “The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment.”

“The stages by which you enter that reality are as follows: First, having contemplated in dismay the faults and disadvantages of cyclic existence, you should develop a wish to be done with it. Then, understanding that you will not overcome it unless you overcome its cause, you research its roots, considering what might be the root cause of cyclic existence. You will thereby become certain from the depths of your heart that the reifying view of the perishing aggregates (impermanent qualities), or ignorance, acts as the root of cyclic existence. You then need to develop a sincere wish to eliminate that.”

“After you have thus arrived at the philosophical view that discerns that the self and that which belongs to the self-lack even a shred of intrinsic nature, you should accustom yourself to that; this will lead to the attainment of the embodiment of truth.”

“As for entry into reality, look in the Commentary on the ‘Middle Way,’ which says: In their minds, yogis perceive that all afflictions And all faults arise from the reifying view of the perishing aggregates (impermanent qualities). And, knowing that the self is the object of that view They refute the self.”

“Those who seek liberation analyze whether this self has the character of the aggregates (impermanent qualities). When those who seek liberation have analyzed it in every way, they do not observe a self, and thus [Nagarjuna's ‘Fundamental Treatise’] says: If the self does not exist How could that which belongs to the self-exist?”
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