NEW PUBLICATION: ‘Meaningful to See: Guidance on the Profound Path of the Vajra-Yogas’ by Jetsun Tāranātha

Jonang Kālacakra refuge tree

Today, for the commemoration of Vesak (Buddha Day) and the Kālacakra new year, I am happy to announce the long-awaited and much-requested, translation and publication of a short (but important) root text  by Jonang and Shangpa Kagyu master, Jetsun Tāranātha, Meaningful to See: Guidance on the Profound Path of the Vajra-Yogas (zab lam rdo rje’i rnal ‘byor gyi khrid yig mthong ba don ldan/). The text contains short, essential instructions on the Kālacakra common preliminaries, the uncommon preliminaries and the completion stage practices of the six vajra-yogas. Until now, it has not been published in the English language.  Tāranātha explains in the colophon of the text that:

This Meaningful to See: Guidance on the Profound Path of the Vajra-Yogas is the practice, as it is, of the Omniscient Dharma Kings of Jonang.  Even though these are all the essential points of the tradition of the previous lineage of siddha masters, I have abandoned their beautiful way of expressing it.  It has been composed in extremely ordinary words that are easy to understand.  Even though the individual guidance of those previous ancestors are the excellent words of the profound meaning, and the unsurpassable entrance point of experts,  as many of the pith instructions are hidden and the meaning of the words are vast and difficult to understand, I saw that people were not able to enter the profound path.  Thus, I have explained the guidance instructions of Dharma masters such as Kunpang Chenpo and Chogle Namgyal. Moreover, having been encouraged and urged to do so by others, in particular, by Amdo Bonpo Yonten Lhundrub and so on, and others also thought it would be beneficial, this vagabond Tāranātha composed this, at the age of 40, in the Naggyel hermitage in Jomonang.

The other main texts within the Jonang tradition used to teach Kālacakra practice are the much larger supplementary commentary by Tāranātha, A Hundred Blazing Lights, and a text by Jonang and Rime master, Bamda Gelek Gyatso, Chariot that Transports to the Four Kāyas. I have already translated both of these texts, for the first time into English, up to and including the uncommon preliminaries of Innate Kālacakra. The Bamda Gelek text was published in 2019 and the longer commentary is still pending publication at this time (see Bibliography below).

This publication of Meaningful to See, includes only the instructions on the five common preliminaries, which are Refuge, generating the Mind of Awakening, One Hundred Syllable Mantra, Mandala Offering and Guru Yoga. The uncommon preliminaries section of this text, the ‘generation stage’ of Innate Kālacakra, I translated and published in 2019 (together with sections from The Chariot that Transports to the Four Kāyas) as part of the Innate Kālacakra project, co-sponsored by Khyentse Foundation. The supreme head of Jonang, Jigme Dorje Rinpoche, of Dzamthang Monastery, Tibet, has expressly forbidden (see his letter here) public and/or commercial publication and  dissemination of the pith instructions on the six vajra-yogas. In order to practice the six vajra-yogas it is essential to do the common preliminaries, regardless of whether or not one has ‘done’ them before in another tradition. The reason for this is because they have specific prayers and visualisations connected to Kālacakra and the Kālacakra lineage masters.

Both Dr. Cyrus Stearns (who kindly provided a foreword for the Bamda Gelek text) and Edward Henning have previously translated Meaningful to See into English. Stearns told me that his was a draft only used for oral translations he did of teachings in the 1990s by Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, which I have not seen. Edward Henning also did a draft translation (up to the third vajra-yoga), which he was sadly unable to complete and publish before he passed away. He sent me his draft (as it was December 2015) which has proved a useful guide in doing this new translation.

Although this root text, Meaningful to See, is not particularly complicated or difficult in terms of translation (and is short being only the preliminaries), it is nonetheless an essential component of teachings for practice in the Dro Kālacakra tradition of Jonang, and is used in conjunction with the other two texts mentioned above. Therefore, where suitable, I have added annotations from my work and translation of Tāranātha’s longer commentary, One Hundred Blazing Lights, the complete first Introductory chapter from Hundred Blazing Lights (where Tāranātha explains why the Kālacakra six vajra-yogas are unique and the only path to full awakening) and included the Tibetan script, for those who would also like to read it in Tibetan. It is available for free download only for those with a  Kālacakra empowerment.

I was able to find five extant editions of this text available online: 1) a modern computer print, 2) a block print from the Tagten Phuntshog Ling wood blocks, 3) an edition in Jamgon Kongtrul’s Treasury of Oral Instructions, and 4) a block print from the Dzamthang Monastery block prints ( see Bibliography for details).

I received the oral transmission and instruction on this text in 2017, from Chokyi Nangwa Rinpoche. Sadly, due to a lack of harmonious and supportive conditions at that time, I was unable to complete and publish it until now. As a celebration of the Kālacakra New Year, the work of Edward Henning and the flourishing and preservation of Kālacakra, may it be of benefit!

N.B The text should only downloaded and read by those who have a Kālacakra empowerment from a qualified teacher.


English Sources

  • ‘Chariot that Transports to the Four Kayas: Excellent Path of Meditation on the Vajra-Yogas’ by Bamda Gelek Gyamtso. Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin (LTWA, 2019). For details on the book and how to purchase it see here.
  • ‘Hundred Blazing Lights: A Supplementary Commentary on ‘Meaningful to See’’ by Jetsun Taranatha. Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin (forthcoming, 2020).
  • ‘Innate Kālacakra: A Collection of Essential Texts’. Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin (Dakini Publications, 2019). Available for free download here.
  • Meaningful to See: Guidance on the Profound Path of the Vajra-Yogas by Jetsun Tāranātha. Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin (Dakini Publications, 2020). Available for free download here.
  • Vajrasattva: One Hundred Syllable Mantra of Dro Kālacakra by Jetsun Tāranātha and Bamda Gelek Gyamtso. Translated and edited by Adele Tomlin (Dakini Publications, 2020). Available for free download here.

Tibetan Sources

tA ra nA tha, zab lam rdo rje’i rnal ‘byor gyi khrid yig mthong ba don ldan/

jo nang mdo sngags rig pa’i dpe tshogs/; W1PD95746, pp. 255-260. si khron dpe skrun tshogs pa / si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang , khreng tu’u. 2009. par gzhi 1..

gdams ngag mdzod/; W20877, 49 ff. (pp. 133-232). lama ngodrup and sherab drimey, paro. 1979-1981. by ‘jam-mgon kon-sprul ; edited from a set of the dpal-spuns prints and published at the order of h.h. dingo chhentse rimpoche. Block Print.

Tsadra Foundation, Damngak Dzö Volume 15 (བ་) / Pages 133-231 / Folios 1a1 to 49a4

gsung ‘bum/_tA ra nA tha/ (rtag brtan phun tshogs gling gi par ma/); W22277. c. namgyal & tsewang taru, leh. 1982-1987. Block Print.

 gsung ‘bum/_tA ra nA tha/ (’dzam thang par ma/); W22276. [s.n.], dzam thang dgon. 199-. Block Print.



2 thoughts on “NEW PUBLICATION: ‘Meaningful to See: Guidance on the Profound Path of the Vajra-Yogas’ by Jetsun Tāranātha

  1. Hello again! Happy Vesak and Kalacakra new year, I hope all has been well.

    I would like to humbly request your recent translation of Taranatha’s “meaningful to see.” I recieved all of the entries of a child transmissions from my guru Khentrul Jamphel Lodro Rinpoche in August of 2019, and the Kalacakra preliminaries and generation stage in the Jonang tradition are my primary practices.

    Thank you again,
    Max Nero

    1. Hello Max, thanks for your interest and message. Yes will send you a copy. I will also send a copy to Chloe and ask her to distribute it to members of Khentrul Rinpoche’s community, if they are interested. May the Kalacakra tradition and teachings flourish!

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