The Sword of Wisdom For Thoroughly Ascertaining Reality Mipham Rinpoche


When it comes to the meaning of what is taught, you should know the provisional and definitive, and rely not on any provisional meaning, but only on the meaning that has certain truth. The All-Knowing One himself, in all his wisdom,taught in accord with students’ capacities and intentions, presenting vehicles of various levels, just like the rungs of a ladder. Wisely, he spoke with certain intentions in mind, as with the eight kinds of implied or indirect instructions. If taken literally, these might be invalidated, but they were spoken for specific reasons.





The Sword of Wisdom For Thoroughly Ascertaining Reality


by Mipham Rinpoche


Part II




When it comes to the meaning of what is taught,

You should know the provisional and definitive,

And rely not on any provisional meaning,

But only on the meaning that has certain truth. (71)


The All-Knowing One himself, in all his wisdom,

Taught in accord with students’ capacities and intentions,

Presenting vehicles of various levels,

Just like the rungs of a ladder. (72)


Wisely, he spoke with certain intentions in mind,

As with the eight kinds of implied or indirect instructions.

If taken literally, these might be invalidated,

But they were spoken for specific reasons. (73)


From the four schools of buddhist philosophy

Through to the ultimate vajra vehicle,

Aspects not fully realized by the lower approaches,

Are made clear by those which are more advanced. (74)


Seeing it to be superior according to the texts and logic,

The intelligent seize the definitive meaning

Like a swan drawing milk from water,

And revel in the ocean of buddhist teachings. (75)


The teachings of the profound vajra vehicle are also sealed

By means of the six limits and four modes.[14]

But can be definitively established by stainless reasoning,

Accompanied by the pith instructions of the lineage. (76)


The inseparable union of the primordial purity

And great equalness of all phenomena

Is the point that is definitively established

By the two authentic valid cognitions. (77)


By applying the key points of the literal, general,

Hidden and ultimate meaning, without any conflict

In the approaches of the paramitas, development phase,

Completion phase and the Great Perfection, (78)


One gains the confidence of certainty about reality.

Then the supremely intelligent heirs of the buddhas

Come to master an inexhaustible treasury of Dharma,

As a sign of victory for the teachings of scripture and realization. (79)


When taking the definitive meaning into experience,

Do not rely upon the ordinary dualistic mind

That chases after words and concepts,

But upon non-dual wisdom itself. (80)


That which operates with conceptual ideas is the ordinary mind,

Whose nature is dualistic, involving ‘perceiver’ and ‘perceived.’

All that it conceptualizes in this way is false,

And can never reach the actual nature of reality. (81)


Any idea of something real or unreal, both or neither—

Any such concept, however it’s conceived—is still only a concept,

And whatever ideas we hold in mind,

They are still within the domain of Mara. (82)


This has been stated in the sutras.

It is not by any assertion or denial

That we will put an end to concepts.

But once we see without rejecting or affirming, there is freedom. (83)


Although it is without any perceiving subject or object perceived,

There is naturally occurring wisdom that is aware of itself,

And all ideas of existence, non-existence, both and neither have ceased completely—

This is said to be supreme primordial wisdom. (84)


Just like the orb of the sun to someone blind since birth,

This has never been seen by the spiritually immature.

However much they think about it, they fail to understand,

And so it is only a cause of fear in the minds of the foolish.  (85)


Yet through scriptures of authentic origin,

Reasoning that refutes all four conceptual extremes,

And the force of the master’s practical instructions,

It arises in our experience, like sight that is restored.  (86)


At that time, with a faith that comes from savouring

The nectar-like taste of the Buddhadharma,

Our eyes open widely in purest joy

And we glimpse the buddhas’ wisdom kaya. (87)


In this, all things without exception

Are seen in their ultimate state of equality,

And with this certainty about what is itself beyond expression,

Skillfully, one expresses the unending treasury of Dharma. (88)


Having become learned in the ways of the two truths,

When seeing the reality of their inseparable unity,

One knows that, just as a husk is removed to reveal the grain,

All the various methods are simply to lead one to this point. (89)


With the thought, “Skilled in means are the buddhas,

And all these methods make a genuine path,”

An irreversible sense of confidence will arise

In the teachers and their teachings. (90)


By gaining the supreme non-abiding wisdom,

Naturally one is freed from the extremes of existence and quiescence,

And the ornament of great and effortless compassion

Arises to pervade throughout the furthest reaches of space and time. (91)


When the correct approach to the two truths

Is realized through contemplating the four reasonings

In this way, it brings the four genuine reliances.

From such a supreme and flawless cause as this (92)


Comes the result of profound primordial wisdom.

When this experience is developed to its fullest

It releases the eight great treasures of confidence[15]

That were sealed within the absolute space of awareness. (93)


Scriptures heard and contemplated in the past

Are never forgotten—this is the treasure of recollection.

Knowing precisely their profound and vast points—

This is the treasure of intelligence. (94)


Understanding all the themes of the sutra and tantra collections—

This is the treasure of realization.

Never forgetting any detail from one’s studies—

This is the treasure of retention. (95)

Satisfying all beings with excellent explanations—

This is the treasure of confidence.

Safeguarding the precious treasury of sacred teachings—

This is the treasure of Dharma. (96)


Not severing the continuous line of the Three Jewels—

This is the treasure of bodhichitta.

Gaining acceptance of the nature of equality beyond arising—

This is the treasure of accomplishment. (97)


Someone who has mastered these eight great inexhaustible treasures

Will never separate from them, and

Will be praised by the buddhas and their heirs

And become a sovereign of the three worlds. (98)


The valid teachings of the victorious buddhas

Are established by the valid cognitions,

So by developing confidence through the valid path,

The true result of the valid teachings will be seen. (99)


With noble vision, completely and utterly pure,

And great compassion that has reached perfection,

The bliss-gone buddha revealed the path

And said, “The taste of this nectar I have discovered (100)


Should be experienced by means of

The four reasonings and the four reliances.”

Although a portion of this elixir has now been shared,

In this modern age rife with degeneration, (101)


Through all the methods that run counter to this approach,

It is difficult to savour the supreme taste of the teachings.

With this in mind, and with an altruistic intention

And a mind of supreme devotion for the teachings, (102)


I have here briefly explained how to generate

The immaculate wisdom that is born of reflection.

Through the merit of this may all beings

Become the very equal of Manjushri! (103)


Turned towards the sun of Manjushri’s speech,

The water-born lotus of my heart opens in devotion,

May these golden honey drops of excellent explanation

Become a plentiful feast for the bees of good fortune!  (104)


I had had the intention to write this for a while, but in accord with the recent request made by the learned scholar Lhaksam Gyaltsen, this was written in a single day by Jampal Gyepa on the twenty-ninth day of the third month of the Sakyong year (i.e. Wood Bird, 1885). Mangalam. There are one hundred and four verses. Virtue!



Translated by Adam. 2004. Found in the treasure troves of


Please support their translating efforts here




[1] Mipham Rinpoche in his own commentary, don rnam par nges pa shes rab ral gri mchan bcas (hereafter MR) says that this refers to the three modes of a valid inference.

[2] This verse appears in Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamikakarika, XXIV, 8.

[3] MR: conventional and ultimate valid cognition.

[4] MR. For example, heat is the nature of fire. We don’t need to look into why fire is hot; that is simply how it is.

[5] These last two lines are a quotation from Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamikakarika, XXIV, 10.

[6] MR gives the example of a small child or even an animal.

[7] MR says for example fire is avoided and water sought after.

[8] MR says for example, through the presence of smoke we can know that there is fire behind the mountain.

[9] In the well-known syllogism, “Given the subject of sound, it is impermanent because it is created” this refers to the fact that sound is created.

[10] In the above example, positive logical pervasion would be the fact that whatever is created is impermanent. Negative logical pervasion refers to the fact that whatever is not impermanent it is not created.

[11] The three types of evidence are: resultant evidence, natural, and non-observation.

[12] MR. Seeing two moons is a deluded sensory perception, dreaming is deluded mental perception, both of which are non-conceptual, and mistaking a rope for a snake is deluded and conceptual.

[13] MR Appearance is the method, emptiness is the outcome.

[14] Six limits: 1) provisional meaning, 2) definitive meaning, 3) indirect, 4) not indirect, 5) literally true and 6) not literally true.

Four modes: 1) literal, 2) general, 3) hidden and 4) ultimate.

[15] These eight are mentioned in the Lalitavistara Sutra (rgya cher rol pa). This is all based on a quotation from that text.

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One Response to The Sword of Wisdom For Thoroughly Ascertaining Reality Mipham Rinpoche

  1. Joanna Bull says:

    To Adam, translator of Mipham’s “Sword of Wisdom”:

    May I trouble you to inquire the origin of this text, in what larger text by Mipham it may be found?

    I find special inspiration in works by Mipham and Longchenpa. Surprise!

    Gratefull in the Dharma,


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