Interesting point, Lobsang. I’m not sure how to parse verses 21-22
, but here’s an alternate translation for comparison:
Generating the mind is the central axle of the supreme vehicle path;
It’s the foundation and the support of all expansive deeds;
To all instances of two accumulations it is like the elixir of gold;
It’s the treasury of merits containing myriad collections of virtues;
Recognizing these truths the heroic bodhisattvas
Uphold the precious supreme mind as the heart of their practice.
I, a yogi, have practiced in this manner;
You, who aspire for liberation, too should do likewise.
“Supreme vehicle path”, which in another context (Foundation of All Good Qualities
) I think Tsongkhapa uses to means Tantra, is rendered in our version as “Mahayana path”. Then “precious supreme mind” in both versions could refer specifically to bodhicitta.
I have not found a commentary for Hymn of Experience
, but parts of it make me think of Shantideva, especially here. In chapter five Shantideva speaks about the primacy of the mind immediately before a brief summary of each of the six perfections, just as Tsongkhapa does here. Shantideva’s point is that the perfections are first and foremost a matter of mental transformation, not merely doing good. First train the mind, then the perfections will flow naturally.
In Way of the Bodhisattva 5:10, Shantideva wrote:10.
Transcendent giving, so the teachings say,
Consists in the intention to bestow on every being
All one owns, together with the fruits of such a gift.
It is indeed a matter of the mind itself.
I think we can apply a similar intention to Tsongkhapa here, which is to say, that at the beginning of the path we must clearly understand the importance of mind transformation as the “central axle”, the “foundation and support”, of all our Dharma efforts. When we then apply Dharma to any samsaric situation, we will be mindful of the alchemical elixir which changes our ordinary minds to the gold of a bodhisattva’s mind. In this way we can complete the two collections of merit in the vast deeds of the bodhisattva and the profound wisdom of emptiness.
Shantideva establishes this essential first principle of seeing the mind as the origin of all that is evil and all that is good, the enemy we fight and the hero that will emerge victorious, in the context of a book whose main theme is bodhicitta, the supreme mind of enlightenment. So I think both understandings apply.
We who are like children shrink from pain but love its causes. - Shantideva