Dharma Notes


Definition of the Week (5) – Negation

Negation according to the first Dalai Lama Gyalwa Gedun Drub:

That which is realised through direct elimination of its object of negation.

Division: Affirming and non-affirming negation

Non-affirming negation: That which is realised through direct elimination of its object of negation and which doesn’t project another phenomena in place of the object of negation.

E.g., emptiness.

Emptiness has to be the mere negation of inherent existence, because in the non-dual meditative equipoise no illusory conventional phenomenon can appear.

From the Debate between Wisdom and Ignorance by Panchen Chokyi Gyaltsen, Ignorance says to Wisdom:

Focusing on the aggregates one says ‘I’.

Make the mere non-affirming negation [149]
Of true existence of this the object of apprehension.
If then, without weakening strength, but with clear intensity,
Free from mental sinking, excitement and apprehending characteristics,

One is skillful in training in the mode of apprehending, [150]
Where, upon having focused on the aggregates,
My non-existence appears as object,
Then this is is the mode of apprehending antithetical to me.

Then one is able to evict me. [151]
However, this is like a mere daytime star.

Choden Rinpoche, commenting on these lines:

One thinks ‘I’ in dependence on focusing on the aggregates. One eliminates this mode of apprehension in relation to the aggregates, refuting truly existent aggregates, and then one holds that mode of apprehension, the mere lack of true existence, without adding anything. The apprehended object is the mere lack of true existence and one has realized emptiness.

This is then combined with calm abiding, which is free from mental sinking or excitement and endowed with clear intensity. If one finds a person that is skilled in this way, this person can harm true-grasping and can evict true-grasping. But such a person is as rare as a star in daylight.



Definition(s) of the Week (4) – Non-harmfulness, Harmfulness, Cruelty


From the Compendium of Knowledge: What is Non-harmfulness? A compassionate mind that belongs to the family of non-anger, having the function of preventing harming and belittling others.

As such: Patience that, having focused on a suffering sentient being, without any harmful intent wishes it to be free from suffering.

Harmfulness, Cruelty

Definition: Harmfulness is the wish to abuse others, being a consciousness of non-compassion, non-sympathy and non-empathy.

Non-compassion, if one wishes to do the abusing oneself.
Non-sympathy, if one wishes to order another to abuse.
Non-empathy, if one rejoices in the abusing of others.

Harmfulness belongs to the family of anger. It has the function of causing abuse.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche:
“The purpose of our life is not simply to solve our own problems, to gain happiness for ourselves. The purpose of our life is to be of use to others, to benefit other sentient beings, whether it be one or many. However, the real reason we are alive is to free the numberless other sentient beings from suffering and lead them to the unsurpassed happiness of full enlightenment. That is the meaning of our life. Each of us has this universal responsibility to bring the greatest happiness to all sentient beings.

Pause here for a moment, stop reading, and meditate on the feeling of universal responsibility, that if you have compassion for all living beings, each one receives great peace and happiness from you; each one receives no harm. Think, “All this peace and happiness that they experience and enjoy depends upon me.” Think of the reasons for this and meditate on the thought, “I am responsible for all sentient beings’ peace and happiness.” It would be wonderful if you could practice mindfulness of this in your everyday life.”

Definition of the Week (3) – Definition of Emptiness

Definition of Emptiness:

The mere non-affirming negation of inherent existence.

“Mere” because if one takes away more than inherent existence one  falls into the extreme of nihilism, and if one takes away less than inherent existence one falls into the extreme of eternalism.

Panchen Losang Choki Gyaltsan:

The reflection of illusory appearance arises
Within the mirror of the empty mind.    
Since it has no existence beyond mere appearance,
There is no place for true-grasping to remain.

Emptiness is divided relative to the basis into the selflessness of person and the selflessness of phenomena.

To liberate migrators his selflessness was taught in two aspects,
Dividing it according to phenomena and person.

Definition of the Week (2) – Definition of Consciousness

The definition of consciousness is clear and knowing.

Clear refers to the ability of consciousness to arise in the aspect of the object.

Knowing refers to the primary arising of consciousness in the aspect of the object, i.e., the apprehension of the object.

Awareness, consciousness and knower are synonymous.



Definition of the Week (1) – Definition of Person

Definition of Person:

The mere “I” labelled in dependence on the aggregates.

“I”, self and person are synonymous.


1) My preferred personal wording:
The mere “I” labelled relative to the aggregates.

2) It usually says “person”, but person extends primarily to human beings, while the Tibetan term gang zag extends to all forms of life. Therefore instead of person it is better to think here of being or creature perhaps. Also animals and other lifeforms have a self and “I”, or more correctly phrased, are a self and “I”.