Showing posts with label Songs of Mahamudra. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Songs of Mahamudra. Show all posts

Shared with my atr blog admin group, john tan commented “I really like mahamudra!” “ This mahamudra poem by Naropa is so beautiful.  I have read it so many times, yet everytime I read it, my heart dances in joy.”



IN SANSKRIT: Mahāmudrāsaṃjñāsaṃhitā

IN TIBETAN: Phyag rgya chen po’i tshig bsdus pa

I pay homage to the continuity of great bliss!

The Mahamudra view of appearances, awareness, and unity are taught:

1. The Meaning of the Mahamudra of Appearances

As for the expression of mahamudra,

All phenomena are your own mind.

Seeing outer things as real is confusion;

Like a dream, they are empty of essence.

2. The Mahamudra of Awareness

The mind, moreover, is merely the movement of thoughts and memories;

It has no nature; it is the dynamism of wind energy.

Empty of essence, it is like space;

All phenomena are like space, abiding as great equality.

Naropa (1016–1100)

The mahapandita Naropa was a great scholar from Kashmir. He mastered Buddhist studies at Nalanda University, but then left to seek a master who could teach him how to tame his mind. Naropa underwent twelve years of intense hardships under Tilopa’s guidance, and finally attained complete mahamudra realization.

3. The Mahamudra of Unity

As for expressing mahamudra,

Its essence cannot be taught.

Therefore, the suchness of mind

Is the very continuity of mahamudra.

There are also three types of Mahamudra meditation:

1. Mahamudra’s Natural Way of Abiding

The nature of mahamudra is uncontrived and unchanging.

Whoever sees and realizes this

Experiences all that appears as mahamudra,

For the great dharmakaya is all-pervasive.

2. The Way of Realizing Mahamudra

Rest loosely in the uncontrived nature;

The dharmakaya cannot be fathomed.

When you rest without searching, this is meditation;

To search while meditating is confusion.

3. The Mahamudra of Indivisibility

Because it is free of meditating and not meditating,

How could there be separation or non-separation from that state?

A yogi realizes everything to be like space and magical displays.

The conduct of Mahamudra again has three aspects:

1. The Mahamudra of Self-Liberation

All virtuous and negative karma will be liberated

By knowing their suchness.

Afflictions are great wisdom

And, like a fire that benefits a forest,

Are a yogi’s boon.

2. The Mahamudra of One Taste

How could there truly be going or remaining?

What kind of meditation

Results from traveling to solitary places?

Whoever does not realize suchness,

Aside from having temporary experiences, will not be liberated.

3. The Mahamudra of Inseparability

If you realize suchness, what can bind you?

Except for remaining undistracted in that state,

There is nothing to meditate on:

There is neither a resting nor a nonresting in equipoise.

This practice cannot be created or improved by an antidote.

Once again, the fruition of Mahamudra has three sections:

1. The Mahamudra of All That Appears and Exists

In this, nothing whatsoever is accomplished—

Appearances self-liberated are the basic space of phenomena.

Thoughts self-liberated are great wisdom,

The nondual equality of dharmakaya.

2. The Mahamudra beyond Samsara

Like the continuous flow of a mighty river,

Whatever you do is meaningful.

This is the great bliss of Buddhahood,

Where samsara has no place.

3. The Ultimate Mahamudra

All phenomena are empty of their own essence.

The mind that grasps the notion of “empty”

Is self-purified.

Free from concepts, without mental fabrication—

This is the path of all the buddhas.

Final Advice and Dedication

For those most fortunate beings,

My heart advice is here collected into words.

Through this, may all beings without exception

Reside in mahamudra!

This instruction was given orally from the great master Naropa to Marpa Chökyi Lodro at Pushpahari.

Śubham astu sarvajagatām!

These thirteen verses summarize all aspects of Mahamudra without exception. The purpose and divisions of this teaching should be understood from a detailed oral explanation, in accordance with its essential meaning.

Do not put your confidence in mixed-up versions. This was written according to the authentic ancient manuscripts, so do not think it has been distorted.


The great siddha Dombi Heruka sang:

Existence and peace are equality,
Free from all conceptuality,
So striving and straining to accomplish some goal—
Oh, what a tiring thing to do!
Body and mind, nonduality—
Spacious and relaxed transparency.
To think that body and mind are two different things
Is a neurotic, crazy, afflicted thing to do!
Self and other not two in dharmakaya,
To cling to good and bad—I pity the fool!
John Tan sent me the Aspiration Prayers of Mahamudra by the 3rd Karmapa today and said "I like Mahamudra... beautifully expressed"

Thusness and I thinks this is good

"The Eight Doha Treasures
A text that clearly teaches the Mahamudra instructions"
Thusness and I like the articles in this site very much.…/

Both dharma teachers (Yogi Prabodha Jnana and Yogini Abhaya Devi) are yogis that went for 9 years retreat and trained in the Nyingma lineage.

Their main practice is Dzogchen. They went for 9 years retreat and was encouraged by their gurus to teach. Their gurus are Kyabje Penor Rinpoche, Kyabje Karma Kuchen Rinpoche and the three Khenchens of Namdroling Monastery.

Here's the article "Bodhidharma Teachings":

Breaking the Silence – The Teachings of Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma Teachings
In this second part of the trilogy on Bodhidharma, let us go deeper into his teachings, including the two methods Bodhidharma taught for entering the Way of Awakening.  We shall also see how Bodhidharma’s teachings fit within the broader context of various Mahayana methods.

View other parts of this Trilogy at 

Bodhidharma Life StoryPart I – Transcending Movement and Stillness – The Life of Bodhidharma
Part III – The Wild Leaps of Awakening – Bodhidharma and Martial Arts

 Bodhidharma taught through silence and words, and through resting and movement. Sometimes he just sat silent and dissolved the conceptual proliferations of seekers in that silence. Sometimes, he used abrupt and loud words and expressions to totally shift the mindset of disciples and to bring to dust their  frames of reference. In resting like a mountain, gazing at the empty wall of mind’s nature, he showed how the mind of dualities and conceptual proliferations comes to rest in the basic space of the perception and the perceived1. In moving like a wild goose spreading its wings, he showed how the perception and the perceived never harm the silence of the basic space.

The View from the Summit

View from the Summit

In the view of awakening, as expressed by the Buddha in the Prajna-paramita-sutras, Lankavatara-sutra, and so on, the perception and the perceived are seen to be unborn, without a beginning. The perception and the perceived have never ever arisen as independent realities separate from the basic space of all phenomenal arising2.  Realizing this principle cannot be the result of seeking. It is rather like seeing the entire landscape from the top of a high summit by resting and not seeking. All teachings of the Buddha, and particularly Mahayana Sutras, skillfully take disciples to this summit. Bodhidharma’s teachings are in essence no different from this.

There are broadly two approaches to arrive at the summit. One is that of the Nalanda masters. It involves elaborate study and then using the sword of prajna (understanding) through logical reasoning and contemplations to cut one’s conceptual proliferation branch by branch. As the thoughts that proliferates with dualistic conceptions are gradually eliminated with the sword of prajna, one reaches the summit of non-conceptual view that is beyond seeking. The other approach is that of close master-disciple relationship. In this case, by following the skillful personal instructions of a master, the disciple quickly gains a glimpse into that non-conceptual view by instantaneously cutting through whatever obscured true seeing. Then, the disciple trains to rest at the summit of that non-conceptual view of the basic space, without taking recourse to elaborate reasoning and logic. Bodhidharma emphasized the latter.

Bodhidharma’s teachings, matching with his time, made sure that the skillful means of realizing the vast expanse of one’s own mind does not turn into mere religiosity. Buddha-dharma was already very popular by then and people were turning it into religious systems. So, for Bodhidharma, it was important to dismantle the religiosity to show the true meaning of the Buddha’s teachings.

He always emphasized that the purpose of practicing Dharma should be to tame and transform mind, and all the more to realize Buddhahood that is in one’s nature beyond all seeking and rejecting. He repeatedly made it clear that there is no use doing elaborate practices in a religious way if you miss this real meaning and purpose.

Finding the Buddha

Bodhidharma said,
To find a Buddha, you have to see your nature.
Whoever sees one’s own nature is a Buddha.
Invoking Buddhas, reciting Sutras,
Making offerings, and keeping precepts
Are all useless if you don’t see your nature.
Invoking Buddhas results in feeling blessed;
Reciting Sutras results in a good memory;
Keeping precepts results in a good rebirth;
And making offering results in good karma;
Yet, none of those result in finding the Buddha.

Seeking the BuddhaTo find a Buddha all you have to do is to see your own nature. Your own true nature is no different from that of a fully awakened Buddha. If you don’t see your nature, and instead run around all day looking elsewhere, you’ll never find a Buddha. In fact, there’s nothing to find. There is no Buddha to seek elsewhere. Just recognize your own innate potential and let it naturally flourish. There, you find the true Buddha. Invoking Buddhas, reciting Sutras, making offerings, keeping precepts and various other such activities are only to create conditions to get closer to that recognition and to make it easier for it to flourish. But, if you go on looking outwardly to see results from such actions without turning attention towards your own mind, then you won’t find a Buddha. The best one can gain by performing such acts religiously is some good karma, good memory, good rebirth, and feeling blessed, keeping the hope alive, but never Buddhahood!

Thus Bodhidharma’s style was to turn the attention of the disciple inward to the mind, and into its empty nature. The Master leads the disciple into realizing that one’s mind by its very nature is equal to that of a fully awakened Buddha. Yet, when one recognizes the nature of one’s own mind, nothing is found there to cling to as ‘this is mind’. Discovering one’s own Buddhahood in the empty-mind is the essence and the way of Mahayana Buddhism.

Bodhidharma said,
You should realize that the cultivation of the Way does not exist apart from your mind. If your mind is pure, everything is pure as buddha-fields. As sutras states, “If the minds of beings are impure, beings are impure. If the minds of beings are pure, beings are pure,” and “To reach a buddha-field, purify your mind. As your mind becomes pure, everything becomes pure as buddha-fields.” (from the Breakthrough Discourse)

Dissolving the Mind

Dissolving the mind
Though purifying mind is the essence of practicing the Way, it is not done by clinging at the mind as a glorified and absolute entity. It is not that one simply goes inward by rejecting the external world. It is not that the mind is pure and the world is impure. When mind is clear, the world is a pure-field. When mind is deluded, the world is Samsara. Bodhidharma said,
Seeing with insight, form is not simply form, because form depends on mind. And, mind is not simply mind, because mind depends on form. Mind and form create and negate each other.  …  Mind and the world are opposites, appearances arise where they meet. When your mind does not stir inside, the world does not arise outside. When the world and the mind are both transparent, this is the true insight.” (from the Wakeup Discourse)

Just like the masters of Madhyamaka, Bodhidharma too pointed out that mind and form are interdependently arising. Mind and form create each other. Yet, when you cling to form, you negate mind. And, when you cling to mind, you negate form. Only when such dualistic notions are dissolved, and only when both mind and the world are transparent (not turning to obstructing concepts) the true insight arises.

In this regard, Bodhidharma said,
Using the mind to look for reality is delusion.
Not using the mind to look for reality is awareness.
(from the Wakeup Discourse)

So, to effectively enter the Way, one has to go beyond the dualities (conceptual constructs) of mind and form. As far as one looks for reality as an object of mind, one is still trapped in the net of delusion (of seeing mind and form as independent realities), never breaking free from it. In that way, one holds reality as something other than oneself, and even worse, one holds oneself as a spectator to a separate reality!

When the mind does not stir anymore and settles into its pristine clarity, the world does not stir outside. The reality is revealed beyond the divisions of Self and others, and mind and form.  Thus, as you learn not to use the mind to look for reality and simply rests in the natural state of mind as it is, there is the dawn of pristine awareness –  knowing reality as it is, non-dually and non-conceptually.

When the mind does not dissolve in this way to its original clarity, whatever one sees is merely the stirring of conceptuality. Even if we try to construct a Buddha’s mind, it only stirs and does not see reality. Because, the Buddha’s mind is simply the uncompounded clarity of Bodhi (awakening), free from stirring and constructions. So, Bodhidharma said,
That which ordinary knowledge understands is also said to be within the boundaries of the norms. When you do not produce the mind of a common man, or the mind of a sravaka or a bodhisattva, and when you do not even produce a Buddha-mind or any mind at all, then for the first time you can be said to have gone outside the boundaries of the norms. If no mind at all arises, and if you do not produce understanding nor give rise to delusion, then, for the first time, you can be said to have gone outside of everything. (From the Record #1, of the Collection of Bodhidharma’s Works3 retrieved from Dunhuang Caves)

Often, this approach of simply not using mind and the instruction to rest naturally, are confused with  simply sitting in tranquility or Shamatha. Particularly, those who did not obtain the direct and clear instructions confuse so. Then, though they keep meditating, they do not enter the Way. However, if one understands Bodhidharma’s approach properly, it is not about holding mind in a passive state. His Way is a union of Shamatha (pacification of mind) and Vipashyana (cultivating insight). For example, Bodhidharma gave the following instructions regarding how to work with the mind that arises,
When mind arises, rely on teachings to watch the source where it arises from. If mind discriminates, rely on teachings to watch the source of discrimination. If attachment, anger or deluded thoughts arise, rely on teachings to watch the source they arise from. [When nothing arises,] not seeking for their arisings is cultivating the Way. When there is arising of thought, then investigate, and by relying on teachings, clear it up!(From the Record #1, of the Collection of Bodhidharma’s Works retried from Dunhuang Caves)

As it is evident from the above, Bodhidharma’s approach of dissolving mind is through insight, and not that of holding mind in a passive state. Various states of meditation attained through simply pacifying mind into various states of absorption (dhyana) are merely temporary and do not lead to real insight and liberation. Whereas, when  the dualistic mind is dissolved through insight, and then by simply resting in that insight, there is the view of reality, and thus liberation.

Thus, Bodhidharma clarified,
Not creating delusion is enlightenment.
Not engaging in ignorance is wisdom
No affliction is Nirvana.
(from the Wakeup Discourse)

Breaking the Silence

Bodhidharma spent nine years meditating in a cave near Shaolin Monastery

Bodhidharma kept silence for many years and stayed in a Samadhi of clear insight. He said,
Freeing oneself from words is liberation. (from the Wakeup Discourse)

The words, even when not spoken out, are proliferations of a conceptual and dualistic mind. To dissolve mind, it is important to free oneself from such proliferations and be able to rest naturally. Yet, he cautioned that a dumb kind of silence should not be confused as the Way. So, in the same discourse, he mocked those who glorify the silence of stupidity,
Those who understand both speech and silence are in Samadhi. If you speak when you know, your speech is free. If you are silent when you don’t know, your silence is bondage. If your speech is not attached to appearances, it is free. If your silence is attached to appearances, it is bondage. Language by itself is not bondage. Because, language by itself is not attachment. And, attachment has nothing to do with language. (from the Wakeup Discourse)

Clearly, it does not matter whether you speak or keep silence as far as either of it is from a point of wisdom and understanding. And, even the silence can be bondage if there is attachment and the lack of insight. In fact, the depth of inner silence of realization can pervade every spoken word. Then, words transcend silence and stirring.

The Two Ways to Enter the Way

The wide-eyed yogi, Bodhidharma
Bodhidharma (Daruma) – a 15th Century painting. (Photo courtesy – Kyoto National Museum)

Bodhidharma’s approach to the Way can be classified into two methods. In one of his famed teachings in China, he spoke of these two kinds of entry to the Way. They are,
  1. Entering the Way through Insight – The instantaneous Entrance to the Way
  2. Entering the Way through Practice – The Gradual Entrance to the Way

Entering the Way through Insight

Entering the Way through insight happens when a disciple of high caliber listens to the instructions of the master, and then leaving behind all deluded pursuits, directly gains insight into the empty nature of mind. Then without making distinction between self and others, one maintains a stable and clear mind like a wall. This is the instantaneous entrance to the Way that Bodhidharma is most well known for. Relaxing in the stable and clear nature of the empty mind is the meditation that is unmoving like a wall. Unmoving does not mean that the mind is lost in vacuity with no thought and perception at all. It also does not mean that one is just sitting all the time. It is not that kind of unmoving. Even while various perceptions and experiences arise, one remains unmoving from the insight of the empty nature of mind and evenness of knowing that all beings possess Buddha-nature. As Bodhidharma said,
To transcend motion and stillness is the highest meditation. (from the Wakeup Sermon)

In this way, Bodhidharma’s approach is not that of just remaining still in body and mind, but that of meditation transcending motion and stillness. It is about maintaining unmoving realization of the reality throughout all actions of life, or simply, ‘unmoving meditation in action’.

Zen Master Dogen
Zen Master Dogen
The sitting meditation of Bodhidharma is also known as ‘Wall-gazing Meditation’ (Pi-kuan in Chinese). Though in certain traditions of Chan/Zen, it is practiced by facing a wall, its meaning is not limited to simply gazing at the wall. In this, one trains to abandon all conceptuality and relax in the utter clarity of mind. As a poetic expression, it is like directly ‘gazing’ into the empty wall of the  mind’s nature. However, in practice there is nothing to gaze as the nature of mind transcends object-subject dualities. So one simply relaxes in the natural clarity of mind.

Often, Bodhidharma’s approach of entering the Way through insight is confused with purely sitting meditation, devoid of everything else. In fact, his tradition got the name Zen School or Chan School (which literally means Meditation School) because ordinary people confused this to be just always sitting in meditation. As Dogen, a later master of Zen and the founder of Soto School of Zen in Japan pointed out in his Bendowa,
At first, while Master Bodhidharma sat facing the wall for nine years …, both monks and non-monastics … called him the sage who just practiced zazen (sitting meditation) as the essence. After that, his successors for generations practiced zazen. Seeing this, foolish worldly people, who did not understand what goes on in the sitting, in confusion [of seeing only the outer form] called this the ‘Zazen School’ (the school of sitting meditation). … Do not take zazen to be same as the samadhi [of the three trainings of discipline, samadhi and wisdom], or dhyāna (meditation) of the six perfections. [The true zazen practice is what] Tathagata in the assembly at Vulture Peak (Grhakuta Mountain of Rajgir) transmitted to Venerable Mahakashyapa, the unsurpassed great transmission of the wondrous mind of Nirvana, the vision of dharma-eye. … It is a complete Way of Buddhadharma 

Entering the Way through Practice

Though the instantaneous approach of entering the Way through insight appears simple, it is difficult to gain instantaneous insight for most people even when a Master guides them to the view. So, Bodhidharma also taught a gradual way of entrance to the Way that is easy for all. This is ‘entering the Way through practice’. This has four practices,
  1. Accepting Suffering
  2. Adapting to Conditions
  3. Seeking nothing
  4. To unite with the Way

The first step in the gradual way is to learn not to react foolishly to sufferings arising from karmic ripening of past deeds. By reacting negatively, we only add more fuel to the karmic ripenings. In the face of painful situations that life presents, a skillful practitioner spends his or her energy in creating positive conditions and doing positive deeds rather than lamenting or reacting to painful situations negatively. This brings a first level sanity to life.

From Bodhidharma's Wakeup DiscourseThe second step is a little more advanced. Adapting to conditions is about realizing that all painful and pleasurable incidents of life are conditional and would also go away as conditions change. A skillful practitioner learns to maintain evenness of mind during both happiness and suffering, without giving into excessive elations and depression. This leads to profound clarity and  peace of mind.

The third step is even more advanced. Seeking nothing means that one has already realized a mind of contentment and  sees the meaninglessness of all selfish pursuits. In this stage, one even abandons seeking enlightenment. It does not mean that one remains inactive or shies away from action. Rather, one enjoys engaging in heroic pursuits for the benefit of others. (same as relative bodhicitta.)

As the final stage of the gradual way, the practitioner unites with the Way by seeing the emptiness of Self and all phenomena and by recognizing the empty expanse of the ground of all phenomena.

Honoring the Words of the Buddha

Though Bodhidharma emphasized the need to go to the essential meaning than merely reading scriptures, he also valued scriptural knowledge. In fact, Bodhidharma held Sutras in high esteem. Particularly he held that Mahayana Lankavatara Sutra contains the essential teachings of the instantaneous realization tradition of Mahayana. When Bodhidharma made Huike his Dharma successor, along with his robe and bowl he passed on a copy of the scripture of Lankavatara Sutra.

The Teachings Go further East

Bodhidharma’s teachings spread mainly in China and further east in Korea and Japan. His teachings later evolved into the instantaneous tradition of the Southern Chan school of China and the gradual tradition of the Northern Chan school of China. These teachings reached Vietnam through an Indian master named Vinītaruci who was a disciple of the Chinese master Sengcan, who in turn was a disciple of Huike, the heart disciple of Bodhidharma.  In Vietnam this school came to be known as the Thien school. The Chinese Chan school propagated to Japan when Myoan Eisai learnt it in China and established the Rinzai Zen School, following the Chinese tradition of the Linji Chan school.  Further, Dogen learnt from the Chinese tradition of the Caodong Chan school and established the Soto Zen school in Japan. All of these schools practice the meditation of just sitting and resting in the unborn nature of all appearances without seeking or rejecting appearances. The difference among these schools is in the additional supports they use such as Sutra recitation, contemplation on koans (verses, often with seemingly paradoxical meaning, supposed to take the disciple beyond conceptuality), walking meditation, etc.

Placing in a Broader Context

During the 8th century CE, Bodhidharma’s teachings (Chan) reached Tibet from China. And that provides a unique opportunity to review Bodhidharma’s teachings in the context of many other Mahayana Buddhist teachings that arrived in Tibet. Tibetan Buddhism had both the pandita methods (those who made thorough scholarly study to enter the Way of awakening) and the kusulu methods (those who just practiced the essence of non-conceptual realization, without much scholarly study). These pandita and kusulu methods blended into an integral whole in Tibet with the same lineages and masters handling both kinds of methods together. Thus, the Tibetan scholars were able to come up with some of the best works of systematizing, contrasting and co-developing various methods of awakening, without denigrating one style for another. Since Chan tradition did not survive in Tibet for long, Bodhidharma’s teachings do not occupy a place in the analytical works of later Tibetan scholars. However, during the short period of the Chan presence in Tibet, some important scholarly works were composed that covered Bodhidharma’s tradition.

Nub Sangye Yeshe’s Classification of the Four Systems

Nub Sangye Yeshe
Nubchen Sangye Yeshe

Amongst those were Nubchen Sangye Yeshe’s composition of a very important work, with the name Samten Migdron (Lamp to the Eye of Meditation). Nubchen was a direct disciple of Guru Padmasambhava who brought Vajrayana Buddhism from India to Tibet. Nubchen’s work analyzed all the traditions of Mahayana Buddhist meditation into four systems with equal respect. This work also helps to distinguish between Chan / Zen and Atiyoga, and to avoid mixing up of the two methods.

Samten Migdron was lost for a long time. A manuscript of this text was recovered in early 20th Century from the Dunhuang caves in China. This became a very helpful source to see how Bodhidharma’s teaching style fits within the broader context of Mahayana Buddhism.

Nubchen classified Mahayana Meditation of the union of Shamatha (calm-abiding meditation) and Vipashyana (insight meditation) broadly into four systems. These are
Two methods of Sutrayana
  1. Gradual
  2. Instantaneous 
 and the two of Vajrayana
  1. Mahayoga (generation and completion stage practices of Mantrayana) 
  2. Atiyoga (the Great Perfection or Dzogchen practice). 

All of these four have their own respective ways of arriving at the union of shamatha and vipashyana on the unborn and empty nature of the basic space of all phenomena, and attaining liberation in that basic space.

According to Nubchen’s classification, the Gradual Sutrayana refers to the path of gradually abandoning various conceptual clingings and gradually realizing the unborn and empty nature of the space of all phenomena. Here, one cultivates non-conceptuality with respect to various phenomenal appearances, and that gradually leads to the basic space.

The second system, the Instantaneous Sutrayana, is what Nubchen identifies  primarily as the teachings of the Great Abbot Bodhidharmottara (or Bodhidharma), particularly ‘Entering the Way through Insight’ (Nubchen also deals with many other masters of Chan / Zen as belonging to this category). According to Nubchen, this method teaches the unborn nature of the space of all phenomena from the very beginning. The practice here is that of wall-gazing as the union of shamatha and vipashyana by training to rest in the unborn ultimate nature. According to Nubchen, this unborn nature is the parinishpanna svabhāva (Perfect Nature) of the unborn space as in Yogacara. Here one cultivates non-conceptuality with respect to the emptiness of all phenomena. In other words, one cultivates non-conceptuality with respect to non-appearances4, without clinging to a conceptual notion of emptiness.

The third, Mahayoga, refers to the generation and completion stage practices of the Vajrayana. Here, one cultivates the non-dual non-conceptuality of the inseparability of the unborn space and wisdom-appearances.

The fourth, Atiyoga, refers to Great Perfection or Dzogchen. Here, a disciple is directly introduced to the play of his or her pristine awareness that is inseparable from the unborn space of all phenomena. In Atiyoga, one directly rests in the spontaneously present non-conceptuality where there is no reference for meditation, such as the object or subject. In this spontaneously present non conceptuality, emptiness and appearances are naturally unified.

Prasangika Madhyamaka and Bodhidharma

In the context of the above analysis, it is also interesting to compare Prasangika Madhyamaka with Bodhidharma’s method. Though these two methods of entering the Way differ drastically, the qualities of their meditation are essentially the same.

Prasangika uses consequential reasoning (the logic of reduction-ad-absurdum) to see the absurdity of every possible conceptual elaboration. Here, conceptual elaborations include the views such as existence, non-existence, both and neither. As one studies scriptures and thoroughly analyzes, one gains certainty in the absurdity of all such conceptual positions. Having gained certainty through such analysis and contemplation, one’s mind comes to rest in the uncontrived nature of mind, giving rise to self-arisen wisdom that is in the nature of mind. (Nubchen Sangey Yeshe did not analyze Prasangika as a separate system in Samten Migdron. However, since the Prasangika approach is to cut all extremes of existence, non-existence and so on simultaneously, its meditation is the same as what Nubchen explains for the Instantaneous Sutrayana, namely, that of non-conceptuality of non-appearance.)

Unlike Prasangika, Chan / Zen does not use elaborate logic and reasoning to analyze every possible position. Instead, a disciple in this case relies on the individualized instructions of a realized Master to move from the position where he or she is stuck  to the point of gaining glimpse into the view of the unborn nature. The effectiveness of this approach depends on the ability of both the master and the disciple. Though a detailed Madhyamaka style analysis is not performed, some systems of Chan / Zen use riddles (koan). Riddles are chosen by the Master depending upon where the disciple is stuck currently. The real Chan / Zen according to ‘Entering the Way through Insight’ (Instantaneous Entrance) starts only when gradually the disciple arrives at the gate of having a glimpse of the unborn nature.

View the Complete Trilogy at 

Bodhidharma – a Trilogy on His Life and Teachings

Authors – Yogini Abhaya Devi Yogi Prabodha Jnana

Yogini Abhaya Devi
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Yogini Abhaya Devi





Yogi Prabodha Jnana wrote in


Dear Atul,
It is not only about recognizing the reflections as reflections, but also recognizing that there is no mirror (no mind)! Knowing that everything is a projection of mind, is just part of the hundreds and thousands of explanations that lead the disciple. Further, when you directly see and understand (recognize) the nature of yourself, the nature of your own mind, only then you see and truly understand the meaning of even the statement, “everything is projection of mind”.

by the Third Gyalwa Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje
༄༅། །ངེས་དོན་ཕྱག་རྒྱ་ཆེན་པོའི་སྨོན་ལམ་བཞུགས།
The Aspiration of the Mahāmudrā of Definitive Meaning
namo guru
བླ་མ་རྣམས་དང་ཡི་དམ་དཀྱིལ་འཁོར་ལྷ། །ཕྱོགས་བཅུ་དུས་གསུམ་རྒྱལ་བ་སྲས་དང་བཅས། །
lama nam dang yidam kyilkhor lha chok chu dü sum gyalwa sé dangché
Gurus, yidams of all maṇḍalas, and buddhas and bodhisattvas of the ten directions and three times:
བདག་ལ་བརྩེར་དགོངས་བདག་གི་སྨོན་ལམ་རྣམས། །ཇི་བཞིན་འགྲུབ་པའི་མཐུན་འགྱུར་བྱིན་རླབས་མཛོད།

dak la tser gong dak gi mönlam nam ji shyin drubpé tün gyur jinlab dzö
Kindly consider me. Support and bless the fulfillment of my aspirations.
བདག་དང་མཐའ་ཡས་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི། །བསམ་སྦྱོར་རྣམ་དག་གངས་རི་ལས་སྐྱེས་པའི། །
dak dang tayé semchen tamché kyi samjor namdak gangri lé kyepé
Streams of virtue unsullied by threefold fixation are born on the snow-covered mountain
འཁོར་གསུམ་རྙོག་མེད་དགེ་ཚོགས་ཆུ་རྒྱུན་རྣམས། །རྒྱལ་བ་སྐུ་བཞིའི་རྒྱ་མཚོར་འཇུག་གྱུར་ཅིག །
khor sum nyokmé gé tsok chu gyün nam gyalwa ku shyi gyatsor juk gyur chik
Of the pure intentions and actions of myself and all innumerable beings. May they flow into the ocean of the buddhas’ four kāyas.
ཇི་སྲིད་དེ་མ་ཐོབ་པ་དེ་སྲིད་དུ། །སྐྱེ་དང་སྐྱེ་བ་ཚེ་རབས་ཀུན་ཏུ་ཡང༌། །
jisi dé matobpa desi du kyé dang kyewa tserab küntu yang
Until that is attained, throughout all births, all lives, may even the words “wrongdoing” and “suffering”
སྡིག་དང་སྡུག་བསྔལ་སྒྲ་ཡང་མི་གྲག་ཅིང༌། །བདེ་དགེ་རྒྱ་མཚོའི་དཔལ་ལ་སྤྱོད་པར་ཤོག །
dik dang dukngal dra yang mi drak ching dé gé gyatsö pal la chöpar shok
Be unheard. May we enjoy the splendor of an ocean of happiness and virtue.
། །དལ་འབྱོར་མཆོག་ཐོབ་དད་བརྩོན་ཤེས་རབ་ལྡན། །བཤེས་གཉེན་བཟང་བསྟེན་གདམས་པའི་བཅུད་ཐོབ་ནས། །
daljor chok tob dé tsön sherab den shenyen zang ten dampé chü tob né
Acquiring the best leisure and resources, may we have faith, diligence, and wisdom. Relying upon good
spiritual friends and receiving the essence of the instructions,
ཚུལ་བཞིན་བསྒྲུབ་ལ་བར་ཆད་མ་མཆིས་པར། །ཚེ་རབས་ཀུན་ཏུ་དམ་ཆོས་སྤྱོད་པར་ཤོག །
tsul shyin drub la barché machipar tserab küntu damchö chöpar shok
May we practive them properly without obstacle. In all our lives, may we practice genuine dharma.
ལུང་རིག་ཐོས་པས་མི་ཤེས་སྒྲིབ་ལས་གྲྲོལ། །མན་ངག་བསམ་པས་ཐེ་ཚོམ་མུན་ནག་བཅོམ། །
lung rik töpé mi shé drib lé drol mengak sampé tetsom münnak chom
Hearing scripture and reasoning frees from unknowing. Contemplating the instructions conquers the darkness of doubt.
སྒོམ་བྱུང་འོད་ཀྱིས་གནས་ལུགས་ཇི་བཞིན་གསལ། །ཤེས་རབ་གསུམ་གྱི་སྣང་བ་རྒྱས་པར་ཤོག །
gom jung ö kyi neluk ji shyin sal sherab sum gyi nangwa gyepar shok
The light of meditation clearly reveals the nature as it is. May the brilliance of the three wisdoms increase.
རྟག་ཆད་མཐའ་བྲལ་བདེན་གཉིས་གཞི་ཡི་དོན། །སྒྲོ་སྐུར་མཐའ་བྲལ་ཚོགས་གཉིས་ལམ་མཆོག་གིས། །
takché tadral den nyi shyi yi dön drokur tadral tsok nyi lam chok gi
The ground is the two truths, beyond the extremes of eternalism and nihilism.
Through the supreme path of the two accumulations, beyond the extremes of exaggeration and denial,
སྲིད་ཞིའི་མཐའ་བྲལ་དོན་གཉིས་འབྲས་ཐོབ་པའི། །གོལ་འཆུག་མེད་པའི་ཆོས་དང་ཕྲད་པར་ཤོག །
si shyi tadral dön nyi dré tobpé gol chuk mepé chö dang trepar shok
The fruition, the two benefits, beyond the extremes of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa, is attained. May we encounter dharma free from error and deviation.
སྦྱང་གཞི་སེམས་ཉིད་གསལ་སྟོང་ཟུང་འཇུག་ལ། །སྦྱོང་བྱེད་ཕྱག་ཆེན་རྡོ་རྗེའི་རྣལ་འབྱོར་ཆེས། །
jang shyi semnyi saltong zungjuk la jongjé chakchen dorje naljor ché
The ground of purification is the mind’s nature, a union of lucidity-emptiness. What purifies is the great vajra yoga of mahāmudrā.
། །སྦྱང་བྱ་གློ་བུར་འཁྲུལ་པའི་དྲི་མ་རྣམས། །སྦྱངས་འབྲས་དྲི་བྲལ་ཆོས་སྐུ་མངོན་འགྱུར་ཤོག །
jangja lobur trulpé drima nam jang dré dridral chöku ngön gyur shok
What is purified is the stains of adventitious delusion. May the result of purification, the stainless dharmakāya, be revealed.
གཞི་ལ་སྒྲོ་འདོགས་ཆོད་པ་ལྟ་བའི་གདེངས། །དེ་ལ་མ་ཡེངས་སྐྱོང་བ་སྒོམ་པའི་གནད། །
shyi la dro dok chöpa tawé deng dé la ma yeng kyongwa gompé né
Severing misconceptions of the ground is certainty of the view. Sustaining that without distraction is the point of meditation.
སྒོམ་དོན་ཀུན་ལ་རྩལ་སྦྱོང་སྤྱོད་པའི་མཆོག །ལྟ་སྒོམ་སྤྱོད་པའི་གདེང་དང་ལྡན་པར་ཤོག །
gom dön kün la tsal jong chöpé chok ta gom chöpé deng dang denpar shok
Training in all aspects of meditation is the best action. May we have the confidence of the view, meditation, and action.
ཆོས་རྣམས་ཐམས་ཅད་སེམས་ཀྱི་རྣམ་འཕྲུལ་ཏེ། །སེམས་ནི་སེམས་མེད་སེམས་ཀྱི་ངོ་བོས་སྟོང༌། །
chö nam tamché sem kyi namtrul té sem ni sem mé sem kyi ngowö tong
All dharmas are the mind’s manifestations. The mind: there is no mind; it is empty of mind’s essence.
སྟོང་ཞིང་མ་འགགས་ཅིར་ཡང་སྣང་བ་སྟེ། །ལེགས་པར་བརྟག་ནས་གཞི་རྩ་ཆོད་པར་ཤོག །
tong shying magak chiryang nangwa té lekpar tak né shyi tsa chöpar shok
Empty, it is unceasing, and can appear as anything. Having scrutinized it, may we find it.
ཡོད་མ་མྱོང་བའི་རང་སྣང་ཡུལ་དུ་འཁྲུལ། །མ་རིག་དབང་གིས་རང་རིག་བདག་ཏུ་འཁྲུལ། །
yö ma nyongwé rangnang yul du trul marik wang gi rangrig dak tu trul
We mistake self-appearance, which has never existed, to be an object. Under ignorance’s power, we
mistake self-awareness to be a self.
གཉིས་འཛིན་དབང་གིས་སྲིད་པའི་ཀློང་དུ་འཁྱམས། །མ་རིག་འཁྲུལ་པའི་རྩད་དར་ཆོད་པར་ཤོག །
nyidzin wang gi sipé long du khyam marik trulpé tsé dar chöpar shok
Under the power of dualistic fixation, we wander in the expanse of saṃsāra. May we get to the bottom of ignorance and delusion.
། །ཡོད་པ་མ་ཡིན་རྒྱལ་བས་ཀྱང་མ་གཟྱིགས། །མེད་པ་མ་ཡིན་འཁོར་འདས་ཀུན་གྱི་གཞི། །
yöpa mayin gyalwé kyang ma zik mepa mayin khordé kün gyi shyi
Not something, it is not seen even by buddhas. Not nothing, it is the ground of all saṃsāra and nirvāṇa.
འགལ་འདུ་མ་ཡིན་ཟུང་འཇུག་དབུ་མའི་ལམ། །མཐའ་བྲལ་སེམས་ཀྱི་ཆོས་ཉིད་རྟོགས་པར་ཤོག །
galdu mayin zungjuk umé lam tadral sem kyi chönyi tokpar shok
This is not a contradiction; it is unity, the middle way. May we realize the mind’s nature, beyond extremes.
འདི་ཡིན་ཞེས་པ་གང་གིས་མཚོན་པ་མེད། །འདི་མིན་ཞེས་བྱ་གང་གིས་བཀག་པ་མེད། །
di yin shyepa gang gi tsönpamé di min shyeja gang gi kakpamé
Nothing indicates this, saying, “It is this.” Nothing negates this, saying, “It is not this.”
བློ་ལས་འདས་པའི་ཆོས་ཉིད་འདུས་མ་བྱས། །ཡང་དག་དོན་གྱི་མཐའ་ནི་ངེས་པར་ཤོག །
lo lé depé chönyi dümajé yangdak dön gyi ta ni ngepar shok
Beyond the intellect, dharmatā is not composite. May we realize the perfect, ultimate truth,
འདི་ཉིད་མ་རྟོགས་འཁོར་བའི་རྒྱ་མཚོར་འཁོར། །འདི་ཉིད་རྟོགས་ན་སངས་རྒྱས་གཞན་ན་མེད། །
di nyi ma tok khorwé gyatsor khor di nyi tok na sangye shyen namé
Not realizing this, we circle in the ocean of saṃsāra. If this is realized, buddha is not elsewhere.
ཐམས་ཅད་འདི་ཡིན་འདི་མིན་གང་ཡང་མེད། །ཆོས་ཉིད་ཀུན་གཞིའི་མཚང་ནི་རིག་པར་ཤོག །
tamché di yin di min gangyang mé chönyi kün shyi tsang ni rigpar shok
Everything is this; there is nothing that is not this. May we know dharmatā, exposing the all-basis.
སྣང་ཡང་སེམས་ལ་སྟོང་ཡང་སེམས་ཡིན་ཏེ། །རྟོགས་ཀྱང་སེམས་ལ་འཁྲུལ་ཡང་རང་གི་སེམས། །
nang yang sem la tong yang sem yin té tok kyang sem la trul yang rang gi sem
Appearances are mind; emptiness is also mind. Realization is mind; delusion is our own mind too.
སྐྱེས་ཀྱང་སེམས་ལ་འགགས་ཀྱང་སེམས་ཡིན་པས། །སྒྲོ་འདོགས་ཐམས་ཅད་སེམས་ལ་ཆོད་པར་ཤོག །
kyé kyang sem la gak kyang sem yinpé dro dok tamché sem la chöpar shok
Arisen, it’s mind; stopped, it’s also mind. May we sever all misconceptions in the mind.
། །བློས་བྱས་རྩོལ་བའི་སྒོམ་གྱིས་མ་བསླད་ཅིང༌། །ཐ་མལ་འདུ་འཛིའི་རླུང་གིས་མ་བསྐྱོད་པར། །
löjé tsolwé gom gyi ma lé ching tamal dudzi lung gi makyöpar
Not sullied by the meditation that is conceptual effort, nor stirred by the wind of ordinary distractions,
མ་བཅོས་གཉུག་མ་རང་བབ་འཇོག་ཤེས་པའི། །སེམས་དོན་ཉམས་ལེན་མཁས་ཤིང་སྐྱོང་བར་ཤོག །
machö nyukma rangbab jok shepé sem dön nyamlen khé shing kyongwar shok
May we know how to rest naturally and freely, not altering. May we be skilled in and sustain the practice
of the mind.
ཕྲ་རག་རྟོགས་པའི་དབའ་རླབས་རང་སར་ཞི། །གཡོ་མེད་སེམས་ཀྱི་ཆུ་བོ་ངང་གིས་གནས། །
tra rak tokpé balab rang sar shyi yomé sem kyi chuwo ngang gi né
May the subtle and coarse waves of thought be naturally calmed. May the river of mind, unmoving, come to
natural rest.
བྱིང་རྨུགས་རྙོག་པའི་དྲི་མ་དང་བྲལ་བའི། །ཞི་གནས་རྒྱ་མཚོ་མི་གཡོ་བརྟན་པར་ཤོག །
jing muk nyokpé drima dang dralwé shyiné gyatso mi yo tenpar shok
Free from the polluting stains of torpor and dullness, may the ocean of śamatha be unmovingly stable.
བལྟར་མེད་སེམས་ལ་ཡང་ཡང་བལྟས་པའི་ཚེ། །མཐོང་མེད་དོན་ནི་ཇི་བཞིན་ལྷག་གེར་མཐོང༌། །
tarmé sem la yangyang tepé tsé tongmé dön ni ji shyin lhak ger tong
When looking again and again at the mind, which has nothing to look at, nothing to see is vividly seen as it is.
ཡིན་མིན་དོན་ལ་ཐེ་ཚོམ་ཆོད་པ་ཉིད། འཁྲུལ་མེད་རང་ངོ་རང་གིས་ཤེས་པར་ཤོག །
yin min dön la tetsom chöpa nyi trulmé rang ngo rang gi shepar shok
That is the resolution of doubts about what it is and is not. Without delusion, may we recognize our own nature.
ཡུལ་ལ་བལྟས་པས་ཡུལ་མེད་སེམས་སུ་མཐོང༌། །སེམས་ལ་བལྟས་པས་སེམས་མེད་ངོ་བོས་སྟོང༌། །
yul la tepé yulmé sem su tong sem la tepé semmé ngowö tong
Looking at objects, there are no objects; they are seen as mind. Looking at the mind, there is no mind; it is empty of nature.
གཉིས་ལ་བལྟས་པས་གཉིས་འཛིན་རང་སར་གྲྲོལ། །འོད་གསལ་སེམས་ཀྱི་གནས་ལུགས་རྟོགས་པར་ཤོག །
nyi la tepé nyidzin rang sar drol ösal sem kyi neluk tokpar shok
Looking at both, dualism is liberated in its own place. May we realize the clear light, the mind’s nature.
Virupa's Treasury of Doha's | Translated by Lama Tseten Migmar and Loppön Malcolm:
Homage to Sri Vajrasattva

Homage to Blessed Nairatma

E ma ho!

The mahamudra is completely pure by nature like space.

Since the reality of the demonstrated object does not exist,
it cannot be expressed through the medium of conventional words,
the essence without proliferation by nature is free from all dependent phenomena,
cannot be investigated or examined, free from demonstrative examples,
also not abiding in freedom from examples, beyond the domain of the mind,
not eternal, not annihilated, not samsara or nirvana,
not apparent, not empty, not real, not unreal, not non-arising,
not the original dharmata, and also not beyond mind,
also not non-being because being and non-being cannot be expressed with the mind,
not connected with any dualistic phenomena, originally homogenous.

Even the explanation of the activities of defining the essence,
equivalent with the fallacy of those false horns of a rabbit being sharp or dull,
all phenomena are not different from that characterization.

The relative phenomena of the world however they appear
are without essence, mere names, mere sounds, mere designations,
not the slightest bit of difference between names and meanings exists,
innate from the beginning, not to be sought elsewhere,
the nature of the mind, without a name, mahamudra free from proliferation,
it is equivalent with the nature of space, without a name from the beginning,
non-arisen by nature, free from the proliferation of signs,
all-pervading, unmoving and unchanging like space,
empty throughout all time and always selfless,
not the characteristic of concept, like a mirage of a river,
not bound, not liberated, having never moved from the original state.

All sentient beings are emanations of mahamudra,
the essence of those emanations is the forever non-arising dharmadhatu,
also all characteristics of dualistic appearances, happiness, suffering and so on,
are the play of mahamudra, the original dharmata.

Because there is no truth and nothing on which to rely in play itself,
reality never transcends the seal of emptiness.

Some are completely tortured with empowerment rites,
some always count their rosary saying hum phat!
some consume shit, piss, blood, semen and meat,
some meditate the yoga of nadi and vayu, but all are deluded.

E ma ho!

Having been connected with a sublime Guru,
one should realize as follows:
because there is some kind of delusion,
true realization does not exist,
free from any extremes of partiality or bias
since there is nothing to realize and no realization,
the homogenous original state is neither with nor without [extremes].

If one realizes in this way there is definitely no-one else to ask.

Since diversity appears as the dharmakaya,
a mind that accepts and rejects never arises.

There is nothing to meditate or not meditate,
and nothing is covered with characteristics,
one should never depend on apparent and non-apparent objects,
a mind with action and agent does not exist,
free from all objects,
a mind with hope and fear does not exist,
turned away from all attachments,
if one realizes the original reality shown by the Guru,
the diversity of recollection and awareness
automatically dissolves into the dharmadhatu,
consciousness does not remain on an object,
since one is free from all attachment and grasping,
all phenomena are liberated
in the uncontrived original state.

If one is not attached to anything,
free from the stain of pride and so on,
devoted, totally connected with the sublime ones,
and free from mental activity of any kind,
there is no doubt one will be immaculate,
because one is purified of a knower
and objects of knowledge,
the direct perception of dharmata will arise.

If one has not realized original mahamudra,
since one is always attached to everything
because of the power of dualistic grasping,
thoughts arise in the mind
like the stream of the variety of blurred vision,
not abiding in the non-erroneous ultimate,
one cycles and wanders in samsara.

Because of attachment and grasping
to all the fame and offerings,
and the arising of great hearing, reflection,
and intellectual comprehension, good experience,
siddhis, blessings, and the signs of power,
the contrived path is ultimately a stain,
the wise do not entrust their minds to them.

If one is interested in those things
and falls into the two extremes,
because it is the root of cycling
in the cycle of samsara,
look, what is the mountain of the mind
that is the root of everything?

If one becomes free from the mind
because it is not seen when looking,
liberation is certain.

Since the mind does not indicate

“The dharmadhatu is this”,
both meditation and an object of meditation
do not exist in that,
rest in the undistracted state

without any concepts of existence and non-existence.

If one intellectualizes emptiness,
non-arising, beyond mind,
freedom from extremes and so on in any way,
not dwelling in actual reality,
one will be very distracted.

Rest in a relaxed state disregarding empty or not empty.

Letting go in the state of independence
without meditating or not-meditating,
be just like a zombie, without a mind that accepts or rejects.

If one dwells in my state through knowing reality as it is,
the traces of the characteristics of dualistic appearances
will be quickly destroyed.

If one is distracted by characteristics
without dwelling in the state of realization,
one will not be able to avert the traces
of the characteristics of dualistic appearances,
though it seems a particle
is in the eye of one with ophthalmia,
the ophthalmic appearance cannot be repaired
without curing the eye disease.

Intellectualizing reality,
attachment to meditation experience,
cultivating and meditating on the actual true state
are causes of deviation.

Because attachment and aversion arose
towards conducive conditions,
one is bound.

All negative disharmonious conditions are sublime siddhis,

since negative conditions intensify the yogin’s experience,
since one understands the true state of negative conditions
without avoiding them, train in them,
maintain that, and practice until coming to the conclusion
of experience and realization,
just as a good horse is encouraged by a quirt.

If yogis with good experience lack the companion of conduct,
as that is not possessed, it is like people without feet.

Train in the actual ultimate real state free from attachment,
giving up nothing, accomplishing nothing, attached to
nothing, purifying nothing, rejecting nothing,
the best of the very best behavior is whatever feels good to one’s body.

Though relatively, the Buddhas have the great confidence of a dead body,
they diligently do whatever possible without abandoning
the great mass of sentient beings.

Though fearless, without fearful thoughts towards samsara,
refrain from even the slightest wrong action.

Though phenomena are realized to be empty like space,
free from an origin,
give up attachment and aversion
having destroyed all strong attachment.

Though one realizes the meaning
of the great transparent Dharmata free from extremes,
while one has not attained stability
keep one’s experience and realization secret from others.

Though one realizes that ultimately
both self and other do not exist,
relatively, think on the great benefit of migrating beings.

Though one has the confidence
that does not depend on the guidance of others,
place the very kind Guru on the crown of one’s head.

The one with attachment and grasping will debate everyone,
contrary conduct not in conformity with tradition is a deviation.

Since there is no object of perception and no perceiver,
difference is liberated in its own state.

Since the experiencer is destroyed,
one is free from all effort and practice.

Since the result to attain is destroyed,
one is liberated from all hope and fear.

Having totally uprooted I and mine,
one is victorious in the war with Mara.

Since realism is destroyed in its own state,
one is liberated from samsara and nirvana.

Since Rigpa is pure in the basis,
it is called “Perfect Buddhahood.”

Since phenomena and mind are exhausted in the state of exhaustion,
therefore it is explained as “nirvana”,
uncontrived, unchanging,
totally liberated from everything
to be given up or to attain.

E ma ho!

That great profound term “mahamudra”,
whatever its basis of designation is, also has the label “empty”;
as moments are empty by nature, who realizes selflessness?

There is no realizer, just a name, a term, a label.

Also that is not perfect, a projection of disciples**,
also in disciples there is no self,
similar with illusions and emanations

“Mahamudra” is a mental imputation of the childish.

“Delusion” and “non-delusion” are mere names, mere labels,
who is the person to feel or be aware of delusion?

If not even an iota of the result, nirvana, exists, and is not perceived,
“liberation and non-liberation” is an adventitious reification,

Nothing exists in peaceful and pure space,
so what is the path of liberation?

“Ultimate and relative” are also just emphatic labels,
but the two truths don’t exist in the dharmadhatu,
the dharmadhatu does not exist.

The Treasury of Dohas composed by the lord of Yogis, Virupa, is complete.
( Doha: Song of Realization).
Reproduced by kind permission of Lama Tseten Migmar

**"disciples" are a reference to Sravakas i.e. Hinayana.
Edited on 22th July 2011 - replaced older translation with a newer one which I think is more accurate as it reflects the understanding of anatta better.

The Aspiration Prayer of Mahamudra

Composed by
The Lord Protector Rangjung Dorje
The Third Gyalwa Karmapa
Gurus and yidams, deities of the mandala,
Buddhas of the three times in the ten directions and your sons and daughters,
Please consider us with kindness and understanding, and
Grant your blessing that these aspirations may be accomplished exactly as we ask.
Sprung from the snow mountain of pure intentions and actions
Of myself and all sentient beings without limit,
May the river of accumulated virtue of the threefold purity
Flow into the ocean of the four bodies of the Victorious Ones.
So long as this is not accomplished,
Through all my lifetimes, birth upon birth,
May not even the words "evil deeds" and "suffering" be heard
And may we enjoy the splendour
and goodness of oceans of happiness and virtue.
Having obtained the supreme freedoms
and conjunctions of the precious human existence,
endowed with faith, energy, and intelligence,
Having attended on a worthy spiritual friend
and received the pith of the holy instructions,
May we practice these properly, just as we have received them,
without obstacle or interruption.
In all our lives, may we practice and enjoy the holy dharma.
Hearing and studying the scriptures and
reasonings free us from the obscuration of not knowing,
Contemplating the oral instructions disperses the darkness of doubt.
In the light born of meditation what is shines forth just as it is.
May the brightness of the three prajnas grow in power.
By understanding the meaning of the ground,
which is the two truths free from the extremes of eternalism and nihilism
And by practising the supreme path of the two accumulations,
free from the extremes of exaggeration and denial,
Is attained the fruit of well-being for oneself and others,
free from the extremes of samsara and nirvana.
May all beings meet the dharma which neither errs nor misleads.
The ground of purification is the mind itself,
indivisible cognitive clarity and emptiness.
That which purifies is the great vajra yoga of mahamudra.
What is to be purified are the adventitious,
temporary contaminations of confusion,
May the fruit of purification, the stainless dharmakaya, be manifest.
Resolving doubts about the ground brings conviction in the view.
Then keeping one's awareness unwavering in accordance with the view,
is the subtle pith of meditation.
Putting all aspects of meditation into practice is the supreme action.
The view, the meditation, the action--may there be confidence in these.
All phenomena are illusory displays of mind.
Mind is no mind--the mind's nature is empty of any entity that is mind
Being empty, it is unceasing and unimpeded,
manifesting as everything whatsoever.
Examining well, may all doubts about the ground be discerned and cut.
Naturally manifesting appearances, that never truly exist, are confused into objects. Spontaneous intelligence, under the power of ignorance, is confused into a self.
By the power of this dualistic fixation, beings wander in the realms of samsaric existence.
May ignorance, the root of confusion, he discovered and cut.
It is not existent--even the Victorious Ones do not see it.
It is not nonexistent--it is the basis of all samsara and nirvana.
This is not a contradiction, but the middle path of unity.
May the ultimate nature of phenomena, limitless mind beyond extremes, he realised.
If one says, "This is it," there is nothing to show.
If one says, "This is not it," there is nothing to deny.
The true nature of phenomena,
which transcends conceptual understanding, is unconditioned.
May conviction he gained in the ultimate, perfect truth.
Not realising it, one circles in the ocean of samsara.
If it is realised, buddha is not anything other.
It is completely devoid of any "This is it," or "This is not it."
May this simple secret, this ultimate essence of phenomena,
which is the basis of everything, be realised.
Appearance is mind and emptiness is mind.
Realisation is mind and confusion is mind.
Arising is mind and cessation is mind.
May all doubts about mind be resolved.
Not adulterating meditation with conceptual striving or mentally created meditation,
Unmoved by the winds of everyday busyness,
Knowing how to rest in the uncontrived, natural spontaneous flow,
May the practice of resting in mind's true nature be skilfully sustained.
The waves of subtle and coarse thoughts calm down by themselves in their own place,
And the unmoving waters of mind rest naturally.
Free from dullness, torpor, and, murkiness,
May the ocean of shamatha be unmoving and stable.
Looking again and again at the mind which cannot be looked at,
The meaning which cannot be seen is vividly seen, just as it is.
Thus cutting doubts about how it is or is not,
May the unconfused genuine self-nature he known by self-nature itself.
Looking at objects, the mind devoid of objects is seen;
Looking at mind, its empty nature devoid of mind is seen;
Looking at both of these, dualistic clinging is self-liberated.
May the nature of mind, the clear light nature of what is, be realised.
Free from mental fabrication, it is the great seal, mahamudra.
Free from extremes, it is the great middle way, madhyamika.
The consummation of everything, it is also called the great perfection, dzogchen.
May there be confidence that by understanding one,
the essential meaning of all is realised.
Great bliss free from attachment is unceasing.
Luminosity free from fixation on characteristics is unobscured.
Nonthought transcending conceptual mind is spontaneous presence.
May the effortless enjoyment of these experiences be continuous.
Longing for good and clinging to experiences are self-liberated.
Negative thoughts and confusion purify naturally in ultimate space.
In ordinary mind there is no rejecting and accepting, loss and gain.
May simplicity, the truth of the ultimate essence of everything, be realised.
The true nature of beings is always buddha.
Not realising that, they wander in endless samsara.
For the boundless suffering of sentient beings
May unbearable compassion be conceived in our being.
When the energy of unbearable compassion is unceasing,
In expressions of loving kindness,
the truth of its essential emptiness is nakedly clear.
This unity is the supreme unerring path.
Inseparable from it, may we meditate day and night.
By the power of meditation arise the eyes and supernormal perceptions,
Sentient beings are ripened and buddha fields are perfectly purified,
The aspirations that accomplish the qualities of a buddha are fulfilled.
By bringing these three to utmost fruition-fulfilling,
ripening and purifying-may utmost buddhahood be manifest.
By the power of the compassion of the Victorious Ones of the ten directions
and their sons and daughters,
And by the power of all the pure virtue that exists,
May the pure aspirations of myself and all sentient beings
Be accomplished exactly as we wish.

The following excerpt is taken from Nicole Riggs'
new book on Milarepa, Milarepa: Songs on the Spot

Namo guru! After a stay at White Rock Vajra Fortress Cave, the Jetsun Milarepa settled at Horse Saddle Cave to enhance his practice. A tantric yogi from Gutang, feeling a tremendous faith for the Jetsun, went to see him.

“Lama,” said the yogi, “I’ve meditated for some years, but I don’t think I got the point. I’ve hardly developed any qualities. So would you please give me an oral instruction?”

“Here’s everything you need to know—” replied Milarepa. And he sang the Song of Six Essential Points:

    Mental projections way outnumber the dust motes you see in the sunlight;
    A great yogi knows what appears for what it is.

    At bottom, the nature of things isn’t a product of causes, nor of conditions
    A great yogi cuts to the core of the issue.

    Even a hundred men with spears couldn’t stop the thought-bubbles of consciousness;
    A great yogi knows not to get hung up on them.

    You can’t lock up the flow of mind in an iron box;
    A great yogi knows mind to be intrinsically empty.

    Wisdom gods and goddesses don’t say no to sensory pleasures;
    A great yogi knows this full well.

    The Buddha’s own hands couldn’t block the appearance of objects to the consciousness;
    A great yogi knows there is no object behind the appearance.

“Do such experiences come about step by step?” asked the yogi. “Or is it all at once?” “Skilled individuals get it at once,” answered Milarepa. “It comes more gradually for those of average and mediocre abilities. Some develop definitive realization, others don’t, and others still get signs that look like realization, but aren’t really.” And he sang the song of distinguishing the four yogas:

    I bow down at the feet of the supreme lama!

    It’s the mind fixated on objects that causes samsara.
    If you recognize as spontaneous
    The luminous self-awareness, free of fixation,
    You’ll taste the fruit of the first yoga, one-pointedness.

    Some talk and talk about union, yet their meditation is all conceptual,
    They talk and talk about cause and effect, yet their actions are flawed,
    Such petty, deluded meditations
    Have no place in the yoga of one-pointedness.

    Luminous mind itself, free of fixation,
    Is naturally blissful, without constructs.
    If you recognize your very essence to be as clear as space,
    You’ll taste the fruit of the second yoga, simplicity.

    Some talk and talk about “no elaboration,” but they elaborate plenty,
    They talk and talk about the “inexpressible,” but they’ve got plenty of terminology.
    Such self-obsessed meditations
    Have no place in the yoga of simplicity.

    In the dharma body, appearance and emptiness are not two,
    Samsara and nirvana are experienced as one.
    If you know the Buddha and sentient beings to have the same identity,
    As many have said: that’s definitely the third yoga, one-taste.

    Some talk and talk about “oneness,” but they still want to make a point.
    Such hazy confusion
    Has no place in the yoga of one-taste.

    Conceptual thoughts are in nature great awareness;
    Cause and effect are non-dual, spontaneous.
    They’re the three bodies,
    And knowing this is the fruit of the fourth yoga, non-meditation.

    Some talk and talk about non-meditation, but how active their mind is!
    They talk and talk about “clear light,” but how thick their meditation is!
    Such platitudes
    Have no place in the yoga of non-meditation.
“Oh, what wonderful advice!” exclaimed the yogi from Gutang.

Translated by Nicole Riggs. This will appear in her upcoming book, “Milarepa: Songs on the Spot.” Publication Date: June 2003.

Don't do anything whatsoever with the mind --
Abide in an authentic, natural state.
One's own mind, unwavering, is reality.
The key is to meditate like this without wavering;
Experience the Great [reality] beyond extremes.
In a pellucid ocean,
Bubbles arise and dissolve again.
Just so, thoughts are no different from ultimate reality.
So don't find fault; remain at ease.
Whatever arises, whatever occurs,
Don't grasp -- release it on the spot.
Appearances, sounds, and objects are one's own mind;
There's nothing except mind.
Mind is beyond the extremes of birth and death.
The nature of mind, awareness,
Uses the objects of the five senses, but
Does not wander from reality.
In the state of cosmic equilibrium
There is nothing to abandon or practice;
No meditation or post-meditation period.

~ Miranda Shaw (tr.) "Niguma: Mahamudra as Spontaneous Liberation," in Passionate Enlightenment.

Extracted from:
Homage to the state of great bliss!
Concerning what is called Mahamudra
All things are your own mind.
Seeing objects as external is a mistaken concept;
Like a dream, they are empty of concreteness.

This mind, as well, is a mere movement of attention
That has no self-nature, being merely a gust of wind.
Empty of identity, like space.
All things, like space, are equal.

When speaking of 'Mahamudra'
It is not an entity that can be shown.
There the mind's suchness
Is itself the state of Mahamudra.

It is neither something to be corrected nor transformed,
But when anyone sees and realizes its nature
All that appears and exists is Mahamudra,
The great all-encompassing Dharmakaya.

Naturally and without contriving, allowed simply to be,
This unimagined Dharmakaya,
Letting it be without seeking is the meditation training.
But to meditate while seeking is deluded mind.

Just as with space and a magical display,
While neither cultivating nor not cultivating
How can you be separate and not separate!
This is a yogi's understanding.

All good deeds and harmful actions
Dissolve by simply knowing this nature.
The emotions are the great wisdom.
Like a jungle fire, they are the yogi's helpers.

How can there be staying or going?
What meditation is there by fleeing to a hermitage?
Without understanding this, all possible means
Never bring more than temporary liberation.

When understanding this nature, what is there to bind you?
While being undistracted from its continuity,
There is neither a composed nor an uncomposed state
To be cultivated or corrected with a remedy.

It is not made out of anything
Experience self-liberated is dharmadhatu.
Thinking self-liberated is great wisdom,
Non-dual equality is dharmakaya.

Like the continuous flow of a great river,
Whatever you do is meaningful,
This is the eternal awakened state,
The great bliss, leaving no place for samsara.

All things are empty of their own identities.
This concept fixed on emptiness has dissolved in itself.
Free of concept, holding nothing in mind,
Is in itself the path of the Buddhas.

For the most fortunate ones,
I have made these concise words of heartfelt advice.
Through this, may every single sentient being
Be established in Mahamudra.

This was given orally by the great pandita Naropa to Marpa at Pullahari.
(Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang.
Published in Songs of Naropa: Commentaries on Songs of Realization, by Thrangu Rinpoche (Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1997).

Extracted from:
The blog owner has given some insightful comments. Do visit.
Oh, my Guru! The Exemplar of the View, Practice, and Action,
Pray vouchsafe me your grace, and enable me
To be absorbed in the realm of Self-nature!

For the View, Practice, Action, and Accomplishment
There are three Key-points you should know:

All the manifestation, the Universe itself, is contained in the mind;
The nature of Mind is the realm of illumination
Which can neither be conceived nor touched.
These are the Key-points of the View.

Errant thoughts are liberated in the Dharmakaya;
The awareness, the illumination, is always blissful;
Meditate in a manner of non-doing and non-effort.
These are the Key-points of Practice.

In the action of naturalness
The Ten Virtues spontaneously grow;
All the Ten Vices are thus purified.
By corrections or remedies
The Illuminating Void is never disturbed.
These are the Key-points of Action.

There is no Nirvana to attain beyond;
There is no Samsara here to renounce;
Truly to know the Self-mind
It is to be the Buddha Himself.
These are the Key-points of Accomplishment.

Reduce inwardly the Three Key-points to One.
This One is the Void Nature of Being,
Which only a wondrous Guru
Can clearly illustrate.

Much activity is of no avail;
If one sees the Simultaneously Born Wisdom,
He reaches the goal.

For all practitioners of Dharma
The preaching is a precious gem;
It is my direct experience from yogic meditation.
Think carefully and bear it in your minds,
Oh, my children and disciples.

Extract from:

Update by Soh: This seems to be a more accurate translation:


Another translation posted by John Tan:


Mahasiddha Tilopa

Tilopa's Song to Naropa
(from Mother of the Buddhas by Lex Hixon)

Mahamudra, the royal way, is free
from every word and sacred symbol.
For you alone, beloved Naropa,
this wonderful song springs forth from Tilopa
as spontaneous friendship that never ends.
The completely open nature
of all dimensions and events
is a rainbow always occurring
yet never grasped.
The way of Mahamudra
creates no closure.
No strenuous mental effort
can encounter this wide open way.
The effortless freedom of awareness
moves naturally along it.

As space is always freshly appearing
and never filled,
so the mind is without limits
and ever aware.
Gazing with sheer awareness
into sheer awareness,
habitual, abstract structures melt
into the fruitful springtime of Buddhahood.

White clouds that drift through blue sky,
changing shape constantly,
have no root, no foundation, no dwelling;
nor do changing patterns of thought
that float through the sky of mind.
When the formless expanse of awareness
comes clearly into view,
obsession with thought forms
ceases easily and naturally.

As within the openness of universal space
shapes and colors are spontaneously forming,
although space has no color or form,
so within the expanse of awareness
realms, relations and values are arising,
although awareness possesses
no positive or negative characteristics.

As the darkness of night,
even were it to last a thousand years,
could not conceal the rising sun,
so countless ages of conflict and suffering
cannot conceal the innate radiance of Mind.

Although philosophers explain
the transparent openness of appearances
as empty of permanent characteristics
and completely indeterminable,
this universal indeterminacy
can itself never be determined.

Although sages report
the nature of awareness to be luminosity,
this limitless radiance cannot be contained
within any language or sacramental system.
Although the very essence of Mind
is to be void of either subjects or objects,
it tenderly embraces all life within its womb.

To realize this inexpressible truth,
do not manipulate mind or body
but simply open into transparency
with relaxed, natural grace
intellect at ease in silence,
limbs at rest in stillness
like hollow bamboos.
Neither breathing in nor breathing out
with the breath of habitual thinking,
allow the mind to be at peace
in brilliant wakefulness.

This is the royal wealth of Mahamudra,
no common coin of any realm.
Beloved Naropa, this treasure of Buddhahood
belongs to you and to all beings.

Obsessive use of meditative disciplines
or perennial study of scripture and philosophy
will never bring forth this wonderful realization,
this truth which is natural to awareness,
because the mind that desperately desires
to reach another realm or level of experience
inadvertently ignores the basic light
that constitutes all experience.

The one who fabricates
any division in consciousness
betrays the friendship of Mahamudra.
Cease all activity that separates,
abandon even the desire to be free from desires
and allow the thinking process to rise and fall
smoothly as waves on a shoreless ocean.

The one who never dwells in abstraction
and whose only principle
is never to divide or separate
upholds the trust of Mahamudra.
The one who abandons craving
for authority and definition,
and never becomes one-sided
in argument or understanding,
alone perceives the authentic meaning
hidden in the ancient scriptures.

In the blissful embrace of Mahamudra,
negative viewpoints and their instincts
are burned without remainder, like camphor.
Through the open door of Mahamudra,
the deluded state of self-imprisonment
is easily left behind forever.
Mahamudra is the torch of supreme liberty
shining forth through all conscious beings.

Those beings constituted by awareness
who try to ignore, reject or grasp awareness
inflict sorrow and confusion upon themselves
like those who are insane.

To be awakened from this madness,
cultivate the gracious friendship
of a sublime sage of Mahamudra,
who may appear to the world as mad.
When the limited mind
enters blessed companionship
with limitless Mind,
indescribable freedom dawns.

Selfish or limited motivations
create the illusory sense of imprisonment
and scatter seeds of further delusion.
Even genuine religious teaching
can generate narrowness of vision.
Trust only the approach
that is utterly vast and profound.

The noble way of Mahamudra
never engages in the drama of
imprisonment and release.
The sage of Mahamudra
has absolutely no distractions,
because no war against distractions has ever been declared.
This nobility and gentleness alone,
this nonviolence of thought and action ,
is the traceless path of all Buddhas.
To walk this all-embracing way
is the bliss of Buddhahood.

Phenomena on every plane of being
are constantly arising and disappearing.
Thus they are forever fresh,
always new and inexhaustible.
Like dreams without solid substance,
they can never become rigid or binding.
The universe exists in a deep, elusive way
that can never be grasped or frozen.
Why feel obsessive desire or hatred for it,
thereby creating illusory bonds?

Renounce arbitrary, habitual views.
Go forth courageously to meditate
in the real mountain wilderness,
the wide open Mahamudra.
Transcend boundaries of kinship
by embracing all living beings
as one family of consciousness.
Remain without any compulsion
in the landscape of natural freedom:
spontaneous, generous, joyful.
When you receive the crown of Mahamudra,
all sense of rank or attainment
will quietly disappear.

Cut the root of the vine that chokes the tree,
and its clinging tendrils wither away entirely.
Sever the conventionally grasping mind,
and all bondage and desperation dissolve.

The illumination from an oil lamp
lights the room instantly,
even if it has been dark for aeons.
Mind is boundless radiance.
How can the slightest darkness
remain in the room of daily perception?
But one who clings to mental processes
cannot awaken to the radiance of Mind.

Strenuously seeking truth
by investigation and concentration,
one will never appreciate
the unthinkable simplicity and bliss
that abide at the core.
To uncover this fertile ground,
cut through the roots of complexity
with the sharp gaze of naked awareness,
remaining entirely at peace,
transparent and content.
You need not expend great effort
nor store up extensive spirtual power.
Remain in the flow of sheer awareness.
Mahamudra neither accepts nor rejects
any current of energy, internal or external.

Since the ground consciousness
is never born into any realm of being,
nothing can add to or subtract from it.
Nothing can obstruct or stain it.
When awareness rests here,
the appearance of division and conflict
disappears into original reality.
The twin emotions of anxiety and arrogance
vanish into the void from which they came.

Supreme knowing knows
no separate subject or object.
Supreme action acts resourcefully
without any array of instruments.
Supreme attainment attains the goal
without past, future or present.

The dedicated practitioner
experiences the spiritual way
as a turbulent mountain stream,
tumbling dangerously among boulders.
When maturity is reached,
the river flows smoothly and patiently
with the powerful sweep of the Ganges.
Emptying into the ocean of Mahamudra,
the water becomes ever-expanding light
that pours into great Clear Light
without direction, destination,
division, distinction or description.


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