By Mipham Rinpoche from the Beacon of Certainty (see John Tan's book recommendation of this book here


 Topic 5

5.1 Which of the two truths is more important? Some claim the ultimate is most important.

"Deceptive reality is a deluded perception," they say,

Understanding it as something to be abandoned.

"Ultimate reality is not deluded, so that ultimate

Is the perfectly pure view," they say. If deceptive reality were not erroneous, were indeed true,

Ultimate reality could not be emptiness, so

They are expressed differently in this way. However, no ultimate can be established

Over and against the deceptive;

The two of them are method and methodical result.

Without depending on an entity for examination,

Its nonsubstantiality cannot be established—

Therefore both substance and nonsubstance

Are the same in being mere relativity.672 If that clinging to emptiness

Were to fully exclude appearance,


It would mess up Nagarjuna's fine system. If by cultivating the path by that seeing of emptiness,

One were only to realize the expanse of emptiness,

Then one would have to accept that the

Sublime equipoise on emptiness

Would be a cause for the destruction of substantial entities. Therefore, though things are empty from the beginning,

Appearance and emptiness are not separate things;

Adhering to the statement "Only emptiness is important"

• Is an unskilled approach to the final meaning. Some people put aside the ultimate

And from the perspective of mere conventionality,

Differentiate the levels of the view in the tantric classes. Viewing oneself as a deity conventionally

: Without complementing the view with the ultimate reality

of emptiness

And thus differentiating "higher" and "lower" teachings,

is incorrect.673 Without having confidence in ultimate reality,

Just meditating on deceptive reality as divinity

Is mere wishful thinking, not a view;

Just as some heretical awareness mantras

Involve visualizing oneself differently during recitation. Some say deceptive reality is more important;

They say you must integrate the two truths,

But then they heap praise on deceptive reality. At the time of maintaining the view of coalescence,

They desert coalescence and grasp a blank emptiness.

Thus the toddler of practice cannot keep up

With the mother of good explanations. Therefore, here in our early translation tradition,

Our Dharma terminology for the basis, path, and result

Does not fall into extremes or bias with respect to

Permanence, impermanence, the two truths, and so forth;

We maintain only the philosophical position of

coalescence. If deceptive and ultimate reality are separated,

One cannot posit the basis, path, or result on the basis of

either. Basis, path, and result are all

Without the distinction of abandoning one thing

or accepting another.

For if one abandons deceptive reality,


There is no ultimate; there is no deceptive

Reality apart from the ultimate. Whatever appears is pervaded by emptiness,

And whatever is empty is pervaded by appearance.

If something appears, it cannot be non-empty,

And that emptiness cannot be established as not appearing. Since both entities and nonentities should both

Be taken as bases for establishing emptiness,

All appearances are just designations,

And emptiness too is just a mental designation. For the certainly of rational analysis,

These two are method and methodical result;

If there is one, it is impossible not to have the other,

As they are inseparable. Therefore appearance and emptiness

Can each be conceived separately,

But in fact they are never different.

Therefore, they are called "coalescent,"

Since the confidence of seeing the nature of things

Does not fall to any extreme. In the perspective of the wisdom of authentic analysis

Appearance and emptiness are considered to be

A single essence with different aspects, for

If one exists, the other exists, and if

One does not exist, the other does not exist. Nonetheless, for beginners

They appear as negation and negandum;

At that time they are not combined as one.

When the nature of emptiness

Arises as appearance, one attains confidence.

Thus, everything is primordially empty,

And these appearances are empty,

Though empty, they appear; though apparent,

They are seen as empty—this is the birth of certainty. This is the root of the profound paths

Of sutra, tantra, and pith instructions.

This is the meaning of cutting off misconceptions

Through study and reflection;

It is the unmistaken, authentic view. By realizing that crucial point more and more profoundly,

Clinging to the characteristics of appearances of

Deceptive reality will gradually be abandoned.

The stages of the vehicles of the various tan trie classes


Appear in that way. Intellectual wishful thinking and

The view of certainty that finds confidence in the

Divine appearance of animate and inanimate phenomena

Cannot possibly be the same. The determination that phenomena are truthless

By Madhyamika reasoning is a view.

But when a Brahmin recites a mantra over a sick person,

His imagining a lack of illness is not the view. By realizing the abiding nature of ultimate reality,

One grows confident in the divine appearance of deceptive


Otherwise, if one dwells on the manner of deceptive


How can divinity be established? Aside from this deluded appearance of subject and object,

There is no such thing as samsara;

The divisions of the path that abandons it

Are not only made from the perspective of ultimate reality,

Because ultimate reality has a unitary character. With respect to the mental ability gained

Through seeing and cultivating all phenomena

Of apparent deceptive reality, the subject (of qualities),674

With respect to ultimate reality, the action tantra,

Performance tantra, yoga tantra, and unexcelled yoga tantra

are taught. Therefore, the tantric classes are not differentiated as higher

Or lower with respect to either of the two truths


According to one's attainment of confidence

In the coalescence of the two truths,

The practice of [each of the tantric classes naturally] follows. Therefore, if one properly practices without mistakes

The peerless Vajra Vehicle,

The path that bestows liberation in a single life,

Then, just like the example of water seen

By several different types of sentient beings,

With respect to pure vision

It will be impossible for anyone not to see

Actual and potential phenomena as a manifested mandala. If you don't know things that way,

Meditating on deities while holding

The nature of samsara to be impure


Is like spraying a vomit-filled vase with perfume.

Alas! That sort of meditation on the Vajra Vehicle of


Is just like a drawing of a butter lamp. The way things appear is impure,

But that is the system of delusion.

We say that authentically seeing the nature of things

Is the meaning of the undivided Vajrayana system. Seeing the animate and inanimate universe

As lacking the nature of pure support and supported,

But meditating while imagining that they do—

This path evinces an obvious contradiction,

And is just a reflection of the Vajrayana path.

Coal cannot be whitened by washing; Likewise, a fabricated meditation that thinks

"It is not, but it is"

Attaining some kind of result

Would be like the heretical sun worshippers (nyi ma pa)—

Who have no confidence in the emptiness of true


Abandoning emotional afflictions through meditating

On an emptiness devoid of appearance, etc. What if the action, performance, and unexcelled tantric


Did not have different levels of view? If you have confidence in the view that realizes

The pure equality of actual and potential phenomena,

But fail to take advantage of the correct view,

Seeing yourself and the deity as superior and inferior

And discriminating things as pure and impure,

You will only harm yourself. And, if you are still attached to what is accepted and abandoned

in the lower tantras

But practice the equality of what is accepted and abandoned

in the unexcelled tantras,

Such as "union and liberation," eating meat, drinking

alcohol, etc.,

This is known as the "reckless behavior of


Isn't that despicable? The view is defined according to one's certainty

In the vision of the nature of things;

According to one's confidence acquired by the view,


One maintains the practice of meditation and conduct. "Because the vehicles are differentiated

By different levels of view, they are not necessarily nine in

number"— From the lowest of the Buddhist philosophical systems

Up to the ultimate vajra pinnacle of atiyoga,

There is a specific reason for positing

The enumeration of nine classes.

Of course there are many levels of vehicle,

But they are posited by necessity, as is the three-vehicle

system.675 Thus, according to the relative strength

Of inner gnosis, the animate and inanimate

Worlds are seen as pure or impure. Therefore, the basis of inseparable appearance and emptiness

Is realized as the inseparability of the two realities;

As you cultivate the path in that way,

You will see the gnosis,

The coalescence of the two buddha bodies.

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