The Vidyadhara gave a commentary on The Sutra of the Recollection of the Noble Three Jewels at the 1982 Seminary. See the 1982 Hinayana-Mahayana Transcripts, Talks 4–9, pp. 23–65.
recollection: A calling to mind, or appreciative awareness.
three jewels: The Buddha, the teacher or guide; the dharma, his teachings; and the sangha, the community of practitioners.
buddha (San. “awakened one”; Tib. sang-gye): The Tibetan term can be paraphrased as “the one who has purified (all the obstacles to awakening) and has fully developed (the positive qualities of enlightenment).”
bhagavat (San. “blessed one”; Tib. chom-den-de): The Tibetan term can be paraphrased as “one who has conquered (the enemy of the kleshas), who possesses (all the positive qualities of enlightenment), and who has gone beyond (the suffering of samsara).”
tathagata (San. “one thus gone”): An epithet of the buddhas, or fully awakened ones, who have “gone to the other shore in this very way.” Having crossed the ocean of samsara, they have reached the ultimate goal: freedom from the two obscurations of conflicting emotions and mistaken views about reality.
arhat (San. “worthy one”; Tib. dra-chom-pa, “enemy subduer”): An epithet of the Buddha, which means the “one who has overcome the enemy” of the kleshas and reached the highest attainment of the hinayana.
samyak-sambuddha (San.): An epithet of the Buddha, which means the “one who is perfectly and completely awakened.”
sugata (San. “well gone, blissfully gone”): An epithet of the buddhas. It is similar to “tathagata,” but emphasizes the blissful quality of attainment.
devas (San. “gods”): Sentient beings who dwell in the god realm.
merit: Favorable conditions for practicing on the path and increasing realization into the nature of reality.
roots of virtue: Wholesome actions, such as meditating and practicing the six paramitas, are the roots or causes of merit.
minor marks: A buddha possesses eighty physical characteristics which mark him as a great being.
major marks: A buddha’s thirty-two main physical characteristics, which are marks of a great being. These include dharmachakras (wheels) on the palms of his hands and the soles of his feet, a whorl of hair between his brows, and an ushnisha (protrusion) on the crown of his head.
his knowledge (San. prajña): This is the knowledge that sees directly into the inseparable nature of emptiness and appearance. Once this knowledge is attained, no worldly logic can overturn it.
realm of desire (San. kamadhatu): A state of samsaric existence in which the kleshas are prominent. As the lowest of the three realms—desire realm, form realm, and formless realm—it includes beings of the hell, preta (hungry ghost), animal, human, and asura (jealous god) realms. It also includes gods of the six lower god realms, such as the thirty-three gods of the Hindu pantheon and the four great kings. To say that the Buddhas is not affected by the three realms means that he completely transcends samsara.
realm of form (San. rupadhatu): A subtle state of samsaric existence between the desire and formless realms, which contains seventeen levels of gods. It is attained by means of the four dhyana states. In this realm, physical suffering, mental distress, and negative mental factors such as attachment cannot arise.
formless realm (San. arupadhatu): The most subtle state of samsaric existence, where beings have a pure mental body rather than a physical body. The four formless god realms are attained by means of the four formless samadhis: infinite space, infinite consciousness, nothing whatsoever, and neither presence nor absence (of concepts).
skandhas (San. “heaps”): These are the five heaps of the aspects of experience that make up the individual and his world: form, feeling, perception, formation, and consciousness.
dhatus (San. “elements”): There are eighteen dhatus, or elements of experience, which include the six sense organs, the six kinds of sense objects, and the six consciousnesses associated with them. As they are the bases of samsaric existence, the Buddha is not under their sway.
ayatanas (San.): The six sense organs (eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mental faculty) and their objects (visual form, sound, smell, taste, texture, and mental object). To say that the Buddha’s “ayatanas are controlled” means that, due to the profundity of his discipline, he no longer fixates on appearances.
knots: The all-enmeshing fetters of the kleshas.
the river: An image for samsaric existence.
nirvana (San. “extinguished”): Freedom from samsara, enlightenment; the cessation of ignorance and of conflicting emotions attained through the path of meditation. To say that the Buddha does not abide in nirvana means that he keeps returning to the samsaric world, not out of attachment, but in order to liberate beings.
bhumi (San. “ground, level”): The bhumis are the stages of realization on the mahayana path of the bodhisattva, usually enumerated as ten. The first bhumi corresponds with beginning of the path of seeing.
vinaya: The hinayana monastic discipline, or code of ethical conduct, which was laid down by the Buddha. These teachings comprise one of the three main sections (San. pitaka; “basket”) of the Buddhist canon; the other two are sutra-pitaka and abhidharma-pitaka.
renunciation: Turning away from the habitual patterns of samsara.
the great yana: The mahayana, or vast path of openness and compassion.
freedom from passion: This is often cited as a definition of dharma altogether.
lower realms: The three lower realms include hell beings, racked by aggression; hungry ghosts, tormented by craving; and animals, suffering through ignorance.
field of merit: The sangha are worthy of veneration on account of the quality of their realization.
pure realm: A realm not polluted by the kleshas, where realization of the truth of dharma is much swifter.
Hariti: Hariti was a great yakshini, or fierce being of the hungry-ghost realm, who lived at the time of the Buddha. According to legend, she had a family of five hundred sons. The only way she could feed them all was to kill for food. In order to put an end to this, the Buddha kidnapped her youngest son and hid him under his begging bowl. Desperately searching for her favourite son, Hariti went to the Buddha and asked him for help. The Buddha said he would not help her unless she promised to stop killing. When Hariti complained that she could not feed her family otherwise, the Buddha promised that his sangha would always put aside some food for her and her sons from each meal. So she agreed to stop killing.
May the royal patron . . . : It was traditional for kings and other patrons of the Buddha to provide meals for the monastic sangha. The sangha would reciprocate by dedicating the merit of their practice to these patrons.
bhutas (San. “beings”; often “spirits” or “ghosts”): Another name for pretas or hungry ghosts, who might hinder one’s practice.
OM AH HUM: This mantra, repeated three times, is commonly used for consecrating offerings.
OM GURU VAJRA-NAIVEDYA AH HUM: “OM (an offering of) vajra food for the gurus AH HUM.” “Vajra” usually means indestructible, like a diamond. In addition, it can mean supreme or exalted, completely sacred.
OM SARVA-BUDDHA-BODHISATTVEBHYO VAJRA-NAIVEDYA AH HUM: “OM vajra food for all the buddhas and bodhisattvas AH HUM.”
OM KAMA-DEVA-MANDALA-NAIVEDYA AH HUM: “OM food for the mandala of deities of desire AH HUM.” “Deities of desire” is another name for yidams.
OM MANJUSHRI VAJRA-NAIVEDYA AH HUM: “OM vajra food for Manjushri AH HUM.” Manjushri is the bodhisattva of knowledge and wisdom.
OM SHRI DHARMAPALA VAJRA-NAIVEDYA AH HUM: “OM vajra food for the glorious dharma protectors AH HUM.”
Note: The above offerings are for the higher beings, those who transcend the six realms of samsara. The following are offerings for lower beings, who are still within the six realms.
OM A-KARO MUKHAM SARVA-DHARMANAM ADYANUTPANNATVAT OM AH HUM PHAT SVAHA: “OM the syllable A is the door because of the primordial nonarising of all dharmas OM AH HUM PHAT—so be it.”
OM HARITE SVAHA: “OM (an offering) to Hariti—so be it.”
OM AGRA-PINDA-ASHIBHYAH SVAHA: “OM for the blessing of the select portion—so be it.” This is an offering to lower beings who are able to receive a select portion of food.
NAMAH SARVA-BUDDHA-BODHISATTVANAM OM BALIM TE JVALA-BALIM NI SVAHA: “Homage! (This is) a food offering, a blazing food offering for you, all buddhas and bodhisattvas—so be it.” This final offering mantra, repeated eight times, purifies the food.
OM UCCHISHTA-PINDA-ASHIBHYAH SVAHA: “OM for the blessing of the leftover morsels—so be it.”
Note: The following long mantra, called a dharani, purifies any negativities of the eating practice.
NAMAH SAMANTAPRABHARAJAYA TATHAGATAYA ARHATE SAMYAKSAMBUDDHAYA: “Homage to Samantaprabharaja (‘All-Radiant King,’ a manifestation of the Buddha), the tathagata, arhat, the perfectly and completely awakened one.”
NAMO MANJUSHRI KUMARABHUTAYA BODHISATTVAYA MAHASATTVAYA MAHAKARUNIKAYA: “Homage to Manjushri, the youthful being (or prince), the bodhisattva, the great being, the greatly compassionate one.”
Note: The remainder of the mantra is difficult to translate with any certainty.