Describes four major cosmological systems found in the Tibetan tradition.
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Root Verses from
The Encompassment of All Knowledge
In Sanskrit: Yana-sarva-mukhebhyah samucchaya-pravacanamratna-kosa-tri-siksa-sudesika-sastram
The Encompassment of All Knowledge: A treasury of precious
teachings compiled from all the approaches of the systems for
spiritual development, a treatise that effectively transmits the
[Embodiment] of complete purity and ethics, you stand
firm like the golden foundation.
Your beauty reflects your countless contemplations, like
the distinct features of the mountains and continents.
Like the sun and moon, your brilliant wisdom illuminates
Supreme sage and achiever of all goals, I revere you.
With the heart of a great hero who protects beings for as
long as they exist,
You suffused the universe with your excellent conduct.
Though father to the victorious ones, you manifest as the
victorious ones' son.
Lion of Speech, grant me flawless intelligence.
You nurture the seed the potential or nature of beings
by imparting instructions that mature and liberate
You cause others to purify incidental defilements through
the twofold path,
And bestow the fruition, the four dimensions of awakening
distinguished by great bliss.
To you, my mentor, and to the masters of the lineages,
Although I lack the intellectual capacity to compile
I shall compose a short, clear, comprehensive work
In order to ensure that those with insufficient knowledge
or interest to understand the texts
Will not lose their opportunity on this isle of treasures.
* * *
This treatise [The Infinite Ocean of Knowledge] as a
whole has [ten] divisions, equal in number to the ten
The realms that appear during the age of illumination;
Buddha, the Teacher; the doctrine, both scriptural and
Its continuation and spread in the Land of Jambu;
Maintaining ethical conduct; learning; reflection;
Through successively engaging in these, progression
through the paths; and realization of the ultimate
* * *
There are general and specific causes and conditions that
initiate [the creation of realms]:
For as long as infinite space and sentient beings exist,
The compassion of the victorious ones and the actions of
sentient beings continue without end.
Those to be guided and enlightened guides
Manifest through inconceivable interconnections.
When the characters and dispositions of those to be
guided are activated,
[The compassion of] the guides [arises], and the configurations
of the realms and the dimensions of awakening
The miraculous methods of guiding others manifest
beyond all bounds.
The sphere of reality never changes into something else;
Yet blessings, vows, actions, and natural laws
Cause oceans of realms to appear.
The realm Unsurpassed is free from incidental defilement
And transcends the experience of the three realms: it is
indivisible pristine wisdom.
In this self-manifesting, spontaneously appearing [realm,]
Dwells Illuminator, Great Glacial Lake of Wisdom;
A billion realms in his every pore.
Their locations, shapes, sizes, durations, and arrangements
Within the central minute particle in the palm of his hand
lies the Oceanic World-System
That itself contains many world-systems, in the center
Lies the realm called Flower-Filled World.
Furthermore, [between the wind] and Unsurpassed lie
one billion four-continent world-systems,
A great third-order thousand [world-system].
Multiplying that by factors of one billion
[Yields] Infinite Links, Continuums, Oceans,
And Flower-Filled World.
Each rests on an ocean and [is encircled by] an outer rim.
This is the sphere of influence of one supreme manifest
dimension of awakening.
Inside the great outer rim, in a sea of scented water,
Four jewelled lotuses support
A tiered arrangement of twenty-five world-systems;
The thirteenth is known as Endurance.
This third-order thousand world-system
Is completely encircled by realms Covered, Surpassing,
Stainless, Variously Emerged, etc.
Equal in number to the particles of this thirteenth
[Endurance] is spherical, has a four-vajra demarcation,
And rests on a multicolored configuration of wind and
a network of lotuses.
Illuminator, the teacher in this ]world-system],
Appears throughout the Unsurpassed realms of the pure
This four-continent [world-system] called Destructible
Is surrounded by ten other four-continent [world-systems].
It is taught that these [world-systems] are formed and
This is the experiential domain solely of the lords of the
tenth stage of awakening.
* * *
In our own world-system, four [ages] occur: formation,
abiding, destruction, and vacuity.
Of the two, environment and inhabitants, [a description
of] the environmental world [is presented first]:
After the age of vacuity had elapsed at the end of the
Winds arose from the ten directions, creating a configuration
in the shape of a cross;
Rain fell from a cloud, and amidst a mass of water,
A thousand lotuses were seen; thus the Fortunate Age
The churning of water by wind produced a golden disc,
Upon which rain fell; [this became] the great ocean.
The churning by wind developed the [ocean's] elements
superior, medium, and base;
These elements formed Mount Meru, the seven mountain
ranges, the four continents and the outer rim.
The mountains and continents all extend eighty thousand
[leagues] down into the ocean.
Mount Meru rises eighty thousand [leagues] above the
The four sides of Mount Meru are composed of crystal,
blue beryl, ruby, and gold.
The sky [on each side] reflects these colors.
From sea level to half its height are four terraces.
Beyond it are seven golden mountain ranges, Yoke and
The spaces between are filled with seas of enjoyment,
which have eight qualities.
The four continents and the eight islands
Are semi-circular, trapezoidal, round, and square.
There are numerous unspecified little islands.
The outer rim consists of a mountain range composed
A salt-water ocean fills the area as far as this range.
North from the center of the Exalted Land, beyond nine
Stand the Snowy Mountains, and north of these the
Between these two mountain ranges lies Cool Lake; from
its four sides
Four cascades flow in four directions toward the ocean.
A jambu tree adorns the lake's shore,
And so this continent is known as the land beautified by
the jambu tree.
The names of Majestic Body and the others indicate their
Tail-Fan Island is inhabited by cannibal demons, and the
others, by humans.
The hells and the world of the starving spirits are located
below the earth.
Animals, the inhabitants of the depths, dwell in the great
Demi-gods [live] in the crevices of Mount Meru from the
water's edge down.
The Four Groups of the Great Kings reside mainly on the
terraces of Mount Meru.
Beings may also dwell in various unspecified secondary
Above Mount Meru is the heaven of the Thirty-three
In which is found the Victorious Residence, the city called
Parks, playing fields, the All-gathering tree, the fine stone
The Assembly Hall of the Excellent Law, as well as the
dwelling of the yaksas.
Above, Conflict Free, Joyful, Enjoying Creations, and
[Mastery Over] Others' [Creations]
Rest on riches like cloud formations in the sky.
There are sixteen heavens in the form realm, beginning
with Group of the Pure;
Above them all is Lesser Unsurpassed.
The lord bodhisattvas reside above that, according to the
Five Treatises on the Stages.
[The heavens] double in size and grow increasingly
One third-order thousand world-system is fathomed by
the vision of the proclaimers and solitary sages,
Who assert that it is composed of indivisible particles of
The nature of each being is unobscured and undetermined.
The four absorptions of the formless realm and the other
realms arise sequentially; [the beings within them]
Diffuse from higher to lower, down to the hells.
Moreover, the four levels of absorption of the formless
Are only distinctions in contemplation; they have no form
The form realm: In the fourth level of meditative concentration,
[there are] five pure domains and three heavens
of ordinary beings.
Three [heavens] are located within each of the lower three
levels of meditative concentration.
The desire realm comprises thirty-six types of beings:
Six groups of gods, [humans of the] four continents,
[Inhabitants of the] eight islands, animals and starving
[Beings in the] eight hot hells, and the eight cold hells.
The twenty existences, ten happy and ten miserable,
May also be classified as twenty-eight.
Within the happy existencesthe form realm and the
Lifespans and possessions decrease the lower the level.
In the miserable existences, suffering increases the lower
The four [levels] of absorption, the four levels of meditative
concentration, and the desire realm
Comprise nine levels. In terms of type, there are six
[classes of] beings.
A classification of five human, divine, and three
May be made in terms of paths and courses.
All these beings may be categorized according to the four
modes of birth,
Or into pure, corrupt, and indeterminate groups.
During the time of abiding, most beings, except for
Experience consequences that are predetermined.
In our world, humans have a wide variety of lifespans,
wealth, and physical size.
Lifespan decreases from incalculable to ten,
And then increases to eighty thousand, and so on.
During a decline, a rise, and eighteen intermediate cycles,
There are fluctuations. The three continents are places
where [consequences] are experienced;
Jambu Land, the most distinguished, is the place of
Beings in this world came down from the heaven of
The nourishment derived from meditative concentration
and other [pristine] qualities gradually deteriorated
due to craving.
The sun and moon provided light, and King Honored by
Then, such distinctions as the four eras and four classes
Wheel-monarchs, who [possess wheels of] gold, silver,
copper, and iron,
Appear in this world only when the lifespan is no less
than eighty thousand years.
Some say that they reign totally over the third-order
There are many variations in food, hunger and thirst,
color of clothing, night and day, etc.
Beings in lower [realm] do not see those in the higher.
At the time of destruction, the miserable realms, beginning
with the hell realms, empty.
Gods and humans attain meditative concentration and
are born in the form realm.
As the realms empty of inhabitants, the [beings of] the
lower realms move higher.
The heavens of the first meditative concentration and
below are destroyed by fire.
Space alone remains, a vacuity containing nothing at all.
Again formation occurs, and again abiding, and finally
destruction by fire.
After seven such [sequences], a deluge at the end of the
Destroys the second meditative concentration and below.
Seven destructions by fire alternating with one by water
occur seven times,
Ending with another seven by fire.
Finally, intense wind destroys the third meditative concentration
Because those three contemplations have imperfections
[they are destroyed];
The fourth, being free of imperfection, is not destroyed by
Altogether, sixty-four great cycles of destruction occur.
Each of the ages of formation, abiding, destruction, and
Lasts for twenty intermediate ages; together, these [four]
constitute one cosmic age.
Such statements as that in a single age seven fires,
One flood, and one wind arise, destroying the third level
of meditative concentration and below,
Reflect different points of view of different systems.
The pure realms and the Seat of Enlightenment, etc., are
Since they are not the result of the origin [of suffering].
* * *
The King of Tantras of the Primordial Buddha
Refutes erroneous systems and integrates the outer, inner,
And alternative [levels]. In the center of space rest
Of wind, fire, water, and earth, [proportional in size to the
measure between] the soles of the feet and the waist.
Mount Meru, its neck, face, and crowning protuberance
[Are proportional to the measure between] the waist and
the crown of the head.
The center is green; the east, blue; the north, white; the
And the west, yellow. Each part is composed of a precious
From the [edge of the] vast upper surface hang five
In a concentric arrangement; the outer ones are progressively
At the base is a ledge which forms an indestructible
Between the six continents Moon, White, Most
Kusa Grass, Centaur, and Crane
Are [six] oceans: Honey, Butter, Yogurt, Milk, Water,
Encircled by the mountains Blue Radiance, Mandara
Night, Jewel Radiance, Vessel, and Cool.
These are lands of experience. The seventh continent,
The Greater Land of Jambu, said to be the land of
Is located between Cool Mountain Range and the edge
of the salt water ocean.
The seventh mountain range forms the Impenetrable
Surrounded by the fire and wind arising from the
Beyond this is vacuity, devoid of any attributes.
The twelve lands of evolutionary actionthe great
continents of wind, fire, water, and earth
Are situated in the center [of each] of the four directions.
They are semi-circular, triangular, round, and square in
And are flanked by smaller continents. All are positioned
like lotus petals.
The Exalted Land is situated in the south of the Small
Land of Jambu.
Situated to the north are, successively, Tibet, Khotan,
China, Sambhala, and the Great Snow Range.
Thirty-one existences eleven desire, sixteen form, four
Live within these [environments].
The celestial sphere pervades space between Mount Meru
and the mountain of fire.
It is a belt of wind, within which the twelve houses
And the twenty-eight constellations formed first.
[The houses] are situated in a clockwise arrangement.
Planets such as the sun and moon rise above them.
[Eight] move counter-clockwise; Eclipser [moves] clockwise.
A solar day is measured in terms of six breaths and sixty
minor clepsydra measures constituting one major
clepsydra measure of time.
Lunar, solar, and house days are determined
In relation to the movement of the moon, sun, and
The [three types of] days are equivalent to one fifteenth
of a phase of the moon, one revolution of the sun
around the continents,
And a thirtieth of the time [required for the sun] to move
through a house.
Each is longer than the preceding one. Based on lunar
months and house years,
The four seasons occur in natural sequence on earth.
Time-conjunctions affect the quality of life.
Explanations of the four eras of the doctrine
Of the wheel-holders, of the world-system, and of entering
vacuity supplement the above.
The Victorious One did not base his teachings on the
belief that a single system is the only valid one,
[But taught] in response to the interests and abilities of
those he guided.
There are a variety of units for measuring space and time:
Eight minute particles equals one fine particle;
A hair-tip, ketsé seed, louse, barley seed, and finger-width
[are determined] in a similar manner.
Twenty-four [finger-widths equals one] cubit; four cubits
equals one bow-length;
Two thousand [bow-lengths equals one] ear-shot; four of
those equals a league.
The phenomenology system presents units of form and
time, and components of words.
Seven minute particles [equals] one fine particle;
Iron, water, rabbit, sheep, ox, and sun-ray particles
Louse egg, louse, barley seed, and finger-width are
Twenty-four finger-widths [equals] a cubit; four cubits, a
Five hundred [bow-lengths], one ear-shot,
Or the measure to solitude; eight of those, a league.
The third-order thousand [world-system] is described
and measured with these units.
One sixty-fourth of a finger-snap
Is the smallest unit of time. One hundred and twenty [of
Equals an instant. Sixty instants [equals] one moment.
Thirty [moments equals] a period; thirty periods, a solar
Thirty solar days, a month; and twelve months, a year.
Based on these units, the measurable and the immeasurable
Individual letters are the components of words.
[Groups of words] form sentences.
If examined, [words] do not capture [the essence, but are]
* * *
What causes create the world?
The erroneous theories of the non-Buddhists claim that
Was created by Isvara or the sage, or that it arose from the
self or naturally.
It is taught in the scriptures that worlds and beings
Are created by various actions influenced by subtle and
The factor ensuring actions' results is said to be acquired
The stream of mental consciousness, the fundamental
The mere individual, clear light, and so forth.
The Analysts and Traditionists state that the environment
is created from the wind at the peak [of existence]
which remains from the time of destruction,
Or from five types of seeds carried from other worlds.
The stream [of phenomena] is undispersed and coheres
through [the effect] of concordant actions.
Lasting form and time are deceptive impressions within
It is taught that the exalted ones comprehend the cessation
of particles and moments.
Most agree that in the formation [of the world] the mind
is the agent, subtle particles and the moving and
stationary winds are the objects acted upon,
And the [winds' motions] are the means of creation.
Six causes and four conditions produce conditioned
Five results are produced by these [causes].
The Individualists' system of phenomenology follows
these excellent explanations.
The productive cause of [a particular phenomenon] is
that which is other than the conditioned phenomenon.
Coemergent causes are [conditioned phenomena] that are
causes and results of one another.
Causes of the same outcome are preceding phenomena
creating later similar phenomena.
Concomitant causes are mind and mental events that
share five aspects.
Omnipresent causes are defiled phenomena.
Developing causes are non-virtue and contaminated
Developed results arise after their causes, pertain to a
And are unobscured and neutral.
Results concordant with the causes are of a type similar to
same outcome and omnipresent [causes].
Freedom results are cessations attained through appreciative
Caused results are attainments through the power of the
Owned results [which are exclusively] conditioned
phenomena arise from non-hindering phenomena.
It is asserted that [results] are all conditioned phenomena,
as well as the attainment of freedom,
And that the two unconditioned phenomena lack causes
Developed [results] arise [from] the last [cause]; owned
results from the first.
Results concordant with the cause [from] the third and
fifth; caused [results] from the second and fourth.
Except for the productive cause, the five [other] causes
are causal conditions.
Mind and mental factors producing results that arise
immediately are immediate [conditions].
Phenomena suitable to be objects of the six
consciousnesses are objective conditions.
Phenomena that do not obstruct arising are dominant
The arising, functioning, etc., [of conditions] can be
learned from [Vasubandhu's] treatise.
Productive causes which produce [a result]; assisting,
Expanding or same outcome [causes]; concomitant
causes, sharing four factors;
Defiled omnipresent causes; developing causes of the
All may be categorized as productive causes,
Which the Synthesis of Phenomenology sets forth as twenty
Causal conditions are the five causes and the fundamental
The objective condition is the perceived object. The
dominant condition is the support.
The immediate condition is asserted in the third way.
When four conditions are present, consciousness generates
When there are two or three, consciousness produces
Freedom results are cessations without causes.
Owned results pertain to external phenomena.
Developed results pertain to the continuums of beings.
Caused results [arise from] creating causes; results concordant
with causes [arise] from same outcome
Although cyclic life and actions do not exist ultimately,
Interdependent origination occurs superficially due to
causes and conditions.
Thus, the wheel of twelve links continually turns.
Adherence to a self is the root of cyclic life.
Emotions produce actions and suffering.
These lead to [the cycle of suffering] which manifests like
[dreams during] sleep.
The beginningless nature of mind is empty, clear, [and]
But its nature is not recognized.
[The fundamental consciousness], stirred by mental
creations, produces dualistic appearances [and] the
Feeling develops from acceptance and rejection;
discernment, from objectification-habit.
[Discernment leads to] mental formations which are
mental factors; habitual adherence creates form.
With attachment and grasping as a link, the wheel of
In summation, three instincts imprinted on the fundamental
Cause three deceptive appearances: object, subject, and
The environmental world, the five objects such as form,
The eight consciousnesses, and virtuous and negative
actions [develop from objective instincts].
[Adherence to] the forms of the six [types of] beings, and
the object, agent, and action
Generate object and subject, which in turn produce
[Emotions] create cyclic life without beginning or end.
When the course of interdependent origination is
reversed or its causes and conditions collapse from
the inner core,
Deceptive [appearances] are exhausted and supreme
liberation is attained.
Table of Contents
|Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama||6|
|Root Verses from The Encompassment of All Knowledge||57|
|Overview of The Infinite Ocean of Knowledge||91|
|I. The Cosmology of the Universal Way||95|
|II||Our Universe according to the Individual and|
|III. Space and Time in the Tantra of the Wheel of Time||147|
|IV. The Causes of Cyclic Life||171|
|V. The Primordial Purity of the Universe||203|
|Appendix: Outline of the Text||229|
|Glossary of Technical Terms||235|
|Glossary of Names||245|
|Bibliography of WorksCited||281|