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纯金 Pure Gold
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Pure Gold


In describing something wonderful, gold is usually used as a symbol, for instance “a golden heart,” or “Truth will prevail through fire just as genuine gold does,” etc. People also like to wear gold accessories in order to catch more attention from others.


Ornaments of pure gold decorate only the exterior; they are unable to adorn people’s inner selves. On the other hand, the sacred Dharma will bring changes in one’s lives, both current and future ones, and ultimately lead beings toward liberation. Considering its limitless benefits, the value of the Dharma is just as precious as the purest gold.


Jowo Jé Glorious Atisha mastered all the inner and outer doctrines by the age of 21. He became proficient in sutras and tantras after diligent study under the guidance of the great Naropa. Later, following the direction given by his teachers and his yidam, Atisha took ordination from the great erudite Silarakshita and was given the name Dipamkara Srijñana. In three years he understood perfectly the essential points of his own and all other lineages.


Following the instruction from Tara, he took a perilous 13-month sea voyage and overcame unimaginable difficulties to arrive at the distant island of Sumatra, in present-day Indonesia. There, with deep and unshakable devotion, he studied for 12 years with the teacher of his long yearning, Suvarnadvipa Guru, or the Master of Gold Isle. Having received his master’s golden teachings, he aroused the golden bodhichitta and witnessed many pure visions of yidams.


Atisha returned to India fully accomplished. With his erudition and extraordinary wisdom, he completely triumphed in many heated debates against 13 non-Buddhist extremists. He was offered 13 victory banners from his defeated opponents who were full of admiration and respect for him.


His glorious fame spread far and wide. He won the total trust of the Sangha at the eminent Buddhist Monastery Vikramasila and was entrusted with the stewardship of 18 keys of the monastery. (During that time period, to be in charge of merely one key of that monastery was regarded as a great honor.)


The Tibetan king of that time, Lhalama Yeshe Ö, in his strong wish to invite Atisha to Tibet, gave up his own life for the amount of gold equal to his body weight. Jangchhub Ö journeyed to India with this gold, offered it to Atisha, and succeeded in bringing the master to Tibet, where he taught the pure Dharma for 13 years.


Whenever Atisha spoke of Guru Suvarnadvipa, he would feel the greatest gratitude and said with deep emotion: “The golden bodhichitta that I have generated in my mind all comes from the kindness of Lord Suvarnadvipa!”


Once asked by Khu, Ngok, and Drom to transmit the best of all the elements of the path, Atisha replied with these illuminating teachings:

The best instruction is always to direct all your practice inwards.
The best conduct is one that does not conform to worldly ways.
The best accomplishment is a steady lessening of afflictive emotions.
The best sign of practice is having less desire and knowing contentment.
The best spiritual friend is one who hits your hidden faults.
The best incentives to virtue are enemies, obstacles, and the sufferings of illness.


Great masters like Atisha have left us rich legacies like pure gold. If we traveled to golden isles only to return empty-handed, what could be more foolish than that?

6th of July, Year of RenWu
August 14, 2002

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