Adhisthana Retreats

Event Title: Study Convention: Tsongkhapa's Three Chief Paths

Led by Saddhanandi

This “study convention” will be comprise a number of separate study seminars on foundational texts. You will book to study one of these texts with one of our most experienced study leaders, and will primarily be studying the original text itself, though informed and augmented by Bhante’s perspective on it given in seminars from the early years of the movement.

The study seminars will be woven together with a series of talks from Subhuti on the practice of Dharma Study, time for reflection, and a programme of shared shrine room practice.

Saddhanandi will be leading study on Tsongkhapa's Three Chief Paths.

Tsongkhapa’s ‘Three Chief Paths’ was a text that Bhante translated at short notice for the Dalai Lama in the 1950s. It is a short but important text describing the stages or paths of ‘Withdrawal’ (nihsarana), ‘Generation of Bodhicitta’ (bodhicitta-utpada), and ‘Insight into Conditioned Co-production’ (pratitya-samutpada). These pithy verses describe a whole path of spiritual development. On this study convention we will use the original text in different translations supplemented with relevant material from Bhante’s seminars. We’ll also look at our own lives in relation to renunciation, bodhicitta and insight, taking the opportunity as a temporary Chapter to move forward in our understanding of these significant teachings.

Jetsun Ksongkhapa’s work ‘The Three Chief Paths’
Translated by Urgyen Sangharakshita
First published in The Middle Way, November 1960

[The Obeisance]
Obeisance to the holy lamas

1. The essential meaning of all the Buddha-teachings,
The path commended by the Buddha-Sons,
That food for those, blessed, who desire deliverance,
I shall relate, according to my ability,

2. Those who, not adhering to the pleasures of existence
But striving to make fruitful their opportunities and advantages,
Place their trust in the Path that Buddhas delight in:
Let those blessed ones listen with open mind!

[Part One: Withdrawal]
1. Without a pure withdrawal there is no means
To still the longing for a happy outcome of the sea of existence;
And by craving for existence, too, those who have bodies
Are fettered all about: therefore seek first withdrawal.

2. The fancies of this life are banished by keeping in mind
That we have no time to spare of opportunities and advantages hard to find;
The fancies of the hereafter are banished by repeatedly thinking
Of acts and their fruits infallible, the miseries of the Round.

3. When, by so practising, there is born not even
For a moment desire for the Round’s well-being
And a sense of longing for Deliverance, all day and night,
Arises, then it is that withdrawal is born.

[Part Two: Generation of the Bodhi Mind]
1. But since that withdrawal, too, unless controlled
By a pure ‘mind-generation’ does not become the cause
Of unsurpassed Enlightenment’s consummate felicity,
Intelligent ones should generate the excellent Bodhi-mind.

2. Swept along by the flow of the four violent rivers,
Tied with the tight bonds of acts hard to reverse,
Trapped inside the iron net of ego-attitudes,
Encompassed by the great gloom of ignorance’s dark:

3. Born in unlimited existences, and in their births
Three miseries torment them without cease:
In circumstances like this are – our mothers!
Think of their state and then generate the excellent Bodhi-mind.

[Part Three: Insight into Conditioned Existence]
1. Since, if they don’t posses the insight that apprehends the underlying Reality,
Even those practised in Withdrawal and the Bodhi-mind
Cannot cut off the root of existence,
Work at techniques to apprehend Conditioned Co-production.

2. He who sees the never failing
Cause-and-fruit of all dharmas temporal and eternal,
And has destroyed whatever is the basis of imagination,
Has entered the Path beloved of the Buddhas.

3. The apparent – the infallible Conditioned Co-production –
And the Void – free of predication, the two understandings,
As long as they appear separate, for so long
Is the Sage’s thought still unrealised.

4. When without alternation, simultaneously,
At the moment of seeing the unfailing Conditioned Co-production
One destroys all fixed ideas and conceptual forms,
Then is the investigation of views complete.

5. If one knows how there appears as cause-and-fruit
Emptiness – clearing the negative extreme with the empty
And the positive extreme with the apparent – moreover,
He will not fall prey to views that hold to an extreme.

[Concluding Exhortations]
When one has realised as they are, for oneself, the quick
Of the Three Principle Paths in that manner,
Wait upon solitude; beget the strength of assiduity,
And speedily effect a lasting counsel, O Sons!

This retreat is for members of the Triratna Buddhist Order

Start Date: 13th Sep 2019
End Date: 20th Sep 2019
Deposit: £74
Price: £259 (Waged/Supported (including deposit)) / £182 (Unwaged/Unsupported (including deposit))

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