Five Treatises of Maitreya

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Five Treatises of Maitreya (Tib. བྱམས་ཆོས་སྡེ་ལྔ་, jamchö dé nga, Wyl. byams chos sde lnga; Trad. Chin. 彌勒五論) — 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’. Mipham Rinpoche writes:

After the noble bodhisattva Asanga performed the practice of Lord Maitreya for twelve human years, he met Maitreya face-to-face and was led to the heavenly realm of Tushita. Maitreya presented Asanga with five commentaries that comment upon the wisdom intent of all the words of the Victorious One. These five treatises are the Two Ornaments, the Two Treatises That Distinguish, and the Sublime Continuum.[1]

Among the five, four are classified as shastras (commentaries) proper, and one falls into the class of oral instructions (the fourth in this list). The four that are shastras are extensive.

1. The Ornament of Clear Realization (Skt. Abhisamayālaṃkāra; Tib. མངོན་པར་རྟོགས་པའི་རྒྱན་; Trad. Chin. 現觀莊嚴論).
འཤེས་རབ་ཀྱི་ཕ་རོལ་ཏུ་ཕྱིན་པའི་མན་ངག་གི་བསྟན་བཅོས་མངོན་པར་རྟོགས་པའི་རྒྱན་, shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa'i man ngag gi bstan bcos mngon par rtogs pa'i rgyan
2. The Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras (Skt. Māhayānasūtrālaṃkāra; Tib. ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་མདོ་སྡེ་རྒྱན་; Trad. Chin. 大乘莊嚴經論).
ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོ་མདོ་སྡེའི་རྒྱན་, theg pa chen po mdo sde'i rgyan, mahayana sutralamkara karika
3. Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes (Skt. Madhyāntavibhāga; Tib. དབུས་དང་མཐའ་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ་; Trad. Chin. 辨中邊論頌).
དབུ་དང་མཐའ་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ་, dbu dang mtha' rnam par 'byed pa, madhyanta vibhanga
4. Distinguishing Dharma and Dharmata (Skt. Dharma-dharmatā-vibhāga; Tib. ཆོས་དང་ཆོས་ཉིད་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ་; Trad. Chin. 辨法法性論) is very brief and direct in its presentation and is included within the class of oral instructions.
ཆོས་དང་ཆོས་ཉིད་རྣམ་པར་འབྱེད་པ་, chos dang chos nyid rnam par 'byed pa, dharma dharmata vibhanga
5. The Sublime Continuum (Skt. Uttaratantra Śāstra; Tib. རྒྱུད་བླ་མ་; Trad. Chin. 分別寶性大乘無上續論).
ཐེག་པ་ཆེན་པོ་རྒྱུད་བླ་མའི་བསྟན་བཅོས་, theg pa chen po rgyud bla ma'i bstan bcos, mahayana uttara tantara sastra


Khenpo Shenga[2] 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."


  1. At the very beginning of his commentary on Distinguishing the Middle from the Extremes.
  2. Prologue to Abhisamayalankara Commentary by Khenchen Shenga