The Root Verses of the Three Principle Aspects of the Path

(lam gyi gtso bo rnam gsum gyi rtsa ba bzhugs so)

by Lama Je Tsongkhapa



The heart-meaning of all the sublime speech of the Victorious One,
The path praised by the holy Bodhisattva Heirs,
The stepping-stone for those fortunate ones who wish for liberation:
It is this that, according to my ability, I shall explain.

You who does not crave for the happiness of conditioned existence,
Who endeavors to make these freedoms and endowments meaningful,
Who has confidence in the path which delights the Victorious One:
O fortunate one, listen with a lucid mind.

Not having completely pure renunciation, striving for the goal of
The fruits of happiness in the ocean of conditioned existence, there is no way for peace.
Since, through longing for conditioned existence, all those with bodies
Are bound from all sides, first, search for renunciation.

Now that you have leisure and endowments, there is no spare time:
Through habituating the mind to this, counteract indulgence.
The inevitability of cause-and-effect, and the sufferings of samsara:
If you think about these again and again, then eventually, you will turn back the over-emphasis on pleasures.

In this way, through cultivation, inclination towards the marvels of samsara
Will not be generated for even a mere moment,
And the mind which strives for the sake of liberation all day and night will emerge:
At that time, renunciation has truly been born.

Even if you have renunciation, if you do not embrace
The utterly pure generation of awakening mind, it will not become the cause
For the bliss of unparalleled enlightenment’s prosperity:
Therefore, those with intelligence generate supreme bodhichitta.

Carried away by the stream of the fierce four currents [of desire, existence, ignorance, and wrong views],
Tightly bound in the fetters of karma, hard to undo,
Trapped in the enmeshment of chain-like self-grasping,
Enveloped from all sides by the immense armies of dark ignorance,

Taking birth after birth in endless conditioned existence,
Tormented ceaselessly by the three kinds of suffering:
That is the situation for all those who have been your mothers.
Thinking of their state of affairs, activate the generation of supreme bodhichitta.

If you do not have the discerning wisdom which realizes the way things are,
Then even if you cultivate renunciation and bodhichitta,
You will not be able to cut the root of conditioned existence.
Therefore, exert yourself in the methods for realizing dependent arising.

Whoever sees that all the phenomena of samsara and nirvana
Are always infallible causality,
And destroys any and all fixed points of conceptual reference:
That one has entered the path which pleases the Victorious One.

Appearances are infallible dependent arising,
And emptiness is a freedom from assertions: For as long as you perceive
These two understandings as being separate,
You have not yet realized the actual intent of the Buddha.

One day, through merely seeing
The perpetual succession of dependent arising,
A confident ascertainment which disintegrates all modes of mental grasping at objects will issue forth:
At that time, the analysis of the profound view is indeed complete.

Moreover, through appearances, the extreme of existence is cleared away,
And through emptiness, the extreme of non-existence is cleared away.
When you know the process by which emptiness dawns within causality,
You will not be snatched away by extreme views.

Thus, at the time when you realize, in this way,
The vital essence of the Three Principle Aspects of the Path,
Rely on solitude, and through generating the power of diligence,
Swiftly accomplish the final goal, my child!


And so, a monk who has studied much, Lobzang Drakpay Pel [Tsongkhapa], gave this teaching to the descendent of Tsakho, Ngawang Drakpa.

Translated by Erick Tsiknopoulos.


2 thoughts on “The Root Verses of the Three Principle Aspects of the Path, by Lama Je Tsongkhapa

  1. *really lovely*;
    thank you for posting this — in addition to the beauty of the language and the substance of this writing, I found it extremely heartening (as I have been having too many gray-mind days here in the last few weeks…).

    oh — there was a little typo, maybe? I think you have an extra ‘been’ in the last line here:

    “In this way, through cultivation, inclination towards the marvels of samsara will not be generated for even a mere moment,
    and the mind which strives for the sake of liberation all day and night will emerge:
    at that time, renunciation has been truly been born.”

    best regards,

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