- Marpa Network
- News and Events
You are here
The Essence of Clear Light Sunshine: A Commentary on the Meaning of The Three Nails
Namo Guru Hasa Vajra Ye!
In the Mighty One’s sutras this place was prophesied
As a secret place, by the Guru it was prophesied
A great place of practice, Yolmo Gangra in Nepal
To its victory banner of definitive teachings, I bow.
View, meditation, conduct, and fruition—
These are the nails whose points are so profound
Logicians may analyze them with reasoning
But they cannot penetrate their profound meaning
Naive meditators may strive and strain while they sit
But there’s not much chance that they will realize it
So here I will explain in a concise way
The profound points that are found at the ends of these nails.
All appearances included in mind—what’s the point of this nail?
Confused appearances come from habitual tendencies, and
All appearances are the energy and play of clear light
So they’re all included in mind—that’s the profound point.
Mind itself is clear light—this profound nail’s tough to get
Mind’s true way of being cannot be elaborated
And its essence has always been completely pure—
That’s clear light, indescribable, such a profound point.
Then there’s the nail that this clear light can’t be recognized
You can’t say it arises, ceases, or remains
Not something, not nothing, not an object of inference
So clear light is unfindable—such a profound point.
Whatever thoughts arise, whether they are good or bad
In essence their arising and ceasing cannot be seen
Their true nature is clear light, undefiled and so,
“Thoughts as dharmakaya are free”—this nail was sung.
Self-arisen native awareness, transcending mind
In essential nature it is undefiled clear light
Bliss and emptiness not different things at all
What they are in reality is inexpressible
Awareness, clear light and bliss are only distinguished by thoughts—
Really these three are undifferentiable.
Mind’s true nature is not created or contrived
So examining and contriving aren’t meditation
Undistracted, not meditating, no creating going on—
Uncontrived equipoise is meditation supreme.
When you realize mind’s nature is clear light
All movements of body, speech and mind are pure
You’ve actualized the genuinely true virtue
So your natural conduct is the ten good deeds.
When you realize that mind really doesn’t arise
All vile thoughts are pure right where they are
The wrong-doer has also always been pure
So the ten wrong deeds are naturally pure in their ground.
The remedy, prajna that realizes selflessness
Doesn’t fix up luminous empty mind one bit
And the remedy itself is naturally pure and free
So it doesn’t create emptiness or clarity.
The ground is clear light, the buddha nature itself
Nirvana is its true being, its natural way
The three kayas are present all by themselves
So nirvana is nothing you import from somewhere else.
Samsara is only the movement of thinking mind
Samsara is without root and without base
And the ones in samsara have never existed
So samsara is nothing you deport to somewhere else.
Like a wishfulfilling jewel is this mind
Unborn, inconceivable—it’s the dharmakaya
And its appearing aspect is the supporting ground
For the form kayas to appear unimpededly
So mind’s true nature is buddha, that’s this nail
Mind’s true nature is buddha, that’s this nail.
Like that are the nails that are so very profound—
View, meditation, conduct, and fruition
All you fortunate ones should gain certainty in them
And after you have done that here’s what you do
So that the practice lineage teachings will spread far and wide
One-pointedly practice these nails in a peaceful place.
Through all of this virtue may all sentient beings
Not be attached to provisional Dharma of the relative truth
May they gain certainty in profound definitive meaning
And through this may the practice lineage teachings flourish.
On December 26, 1997, in the Garden of Translation near the Great Stupa of Boudhanath, Nepal, this was spoken extemporaneously by the one only called “Khenpo”, Tsultrim Gyamtso.
Translated by Ari Goldfield, with thanks to Jim Scott for his translation and arrangement of Milarepa’s song, The Three Nails. Translation copyright 2012, Ari Goldfield.