Five Treatises of Maitreya

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Maitreya

Five Treatises of Maitreya (Wyl. byams chos sde lnga) — the bodhisattva Maitreya, who will be the next buddha after Shakyamuni, transmitted the root teachings to Asanga, who transcribed them as the ‘Five Treatises of Maitreya’.

Among the five, four are classed as shastras (commentaries) proper, and one falls into the class of oral instructions. The four that are shastras are extensive are:

  1. The Ornament of Clear Realization (Skt. Abhisamayalankara; Tib. ngönpar tokpé gyen).
  2. The Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras (Skt. Mahayanasutralankara; Tib. tekpa chenpö do de gyen).
  3. Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes (Skt. Madhyantavibhaga; Tib. ü dang ta nampar chepa).
  4. The Sublime Continuum (Skt. Uttaratantra Shastra; Tib. gyü lama).
  5. Distinguishing Dharma and Dharmata (Skt. Dharma-dharmata-vibhanga; Tib. chö dang chönyi nampar chepa) is very brief and direct in its presentation and is included within the class of oral instructions.

Overview

Khenpo Shenga says:

"The treatises are:
The Ornament of Clear Realization, which explains the intent of the sutras teaching profound emptiness;
The Ornament of Sutras and the two ‘Distinguishing’s, which explain the intent of the sutras teaching the aspect of extensive conduct; and
The Sublime Continuum, which explains the intent of the sutras teaching the inconceivable nature of reality (dharmata).
Moreover, these texts were given for the sake of guiding three types of individual:
The three intermediate treatises of Maitreya were composed for those to be trained through the teachings of the mahayana Mind Only system of philosophy;
The Ornament of Clear Realization was composed for those to be trained through the teachings of the mahayana Svatantrika system; and
The Sublime Continuum was composed for those to be trained through the teachings on the mahayana Prasangika system."