I have added in the right margin (scroll down to “download PDF”) a new translation of Patrul Rinpoche’s instruction on the two truths (auch auf deutsch!). It has been translated in the past, but I think that I was able to add some precision to the translation. I also provided a number of footnotes to clarify a few points for those who have not so much experience in reading this kind of text.

Although I do not know of any systematic presentation of Jigten Sumgön’s understanding of the two truths, I think that Patrul Rinpoche’s explanation is very close to how Jigten Sumgön would teach them. The main point is that the level of truth is determined by the realization of one’s mind. Thus, already Jigten Sumgön’s guru Phagmodrupa had said (as quoted in Rigdzin Chökyi Dragpa’s commentary on dGongs gcig 7.1):

E ma ho! This king that is the mind,
– if one realizes it, that is nirvana,
if one does not realize it, that is the ocean of samsara.
Apart from realizing and non-realizing
there is no obtaining and non-obtaining of the fruit.

Therefore, Chökyi Dragpa said in the same commentary: “Samsara and nirvana have no other difference than ‘realized’ and ‘not-realized.'” Moreover, since that realization of the mind is free from all extremes of proliferation – the buddhahood that is achieved in the sameness of all phenomena, the inseparable union – within that absolute result there exists no distinction between the two truths (dGongs gcig 7.1). This union on the level of absolute truth is also in accordance with Patrul Rinpoche’s instruction.

I hope you will enjoy the text!


[Updated version (May 20, 2019)]

The “Yoga of the Innate” (lhan cig skyes sbyor, Skt. *sahajayoga) is a special transmission of Gampopa and all the Kagyüpas after him – but before I discuss some of its details, let me first briefly explain my choice of the term “innate.” The literal meaning of the Tibetan term lhan cig is “together.” In connection with the Tibetan term skyes pa, the idea is that something is “born or arising together,” and Gampopa has pointed out that it means “at the same time,” namely that dharmakāya and mind♦ 1

have no “earlier” and “later” concerning the time [of their arising] and they are not a “good thing” [i.e. the dharmakāya] and a “bad thing” [i.e. the mind with its thoughts]. They are, therefore, “arisen together”

or simultaneously, that is, innate. When, in the mahāmudrā instructions of the “yoga (Tib. sbyor) of the innate,” the disciple is introduced to the nature of the mind right from the beginning, the topic or contents of this introduction is that, chiefly, the dharmakāya is innate to the mind, i.e. they are “arisen together.” In particular, as Gampopa said to the first Karmapa:♦ 2

What is innate to the mind is the dharmakāya.
What is innate to appearance is the radiance of the dharmakāya.

The innate nature of the mind is its nature or essence. The innate appearance is the thought that has arisen from [the mind]. They are like the sun and the rays of the sun or sandalwood and the scent of sandalwood.

In other words, any outer appearance is in truth a thought arising in the mind, where the mind is actually the dharmakāya and the thought dharmakāya’s radiance. This nature of reality, which is introduced to the disciple, is after that used as a means of practice on the path. Another way to express this are these words of Phagmodrupa:♦ 3

Mind, thought, and dharmakāya
are from the beginning innate (lhan cig skyes pa).
Since this is trained (sbyor ba, Skt. yoga) through instructions,
it is called “yoga of the innate.”

The perhaps most important characteristic of this yoga is, therefore, the involvement of thoughts and appearances in the practice of the path, as it is only through them that the dharmakāya can be seen. In other words, *sahajayoga is “mahāmudrā on the level of the path.”♦ 4

Jigten Sumgön has used this basic instruction of innateness in his Introduction to Mahāmudrā, the Yoga of the Innate in the chapter where he introduces appearances as dharmakāya. When the disciple dwells in an original or natural state of the mind, relaxed and without grasping,♦ 5

… appearance and mind vividly arise as inseparable without the appearing objects remaining outside and the mind being inside as different from the appearance. (…) Therefore, [the appearance] is the unhindered self-appearance of the natural radiance of the nature of the mind. (…) [I]t is not so that formerly separate things become one after they have merged – they have always been like that!

Since that is the case, Jigten Sumgön says in the instruction translated below that a thought “is seen as possessing qualities, as a kindness, or as indispensable” as it can be used to fully unfold the potential (rtsal) of discriminating knowledge (shes rab), leading to the realisation that dharmakāya is from the beginning innate to the mind.

Gampopa received two traditions of the instruction of this yoga; one by the Kadampa Geshe Chagriwa♦ 6 and the other one by Milarepa. The teaching that was transmitted by Phagmodrupa to Jigten Sumgön is called the “two armours” (go cha gnyis). According to Phagmodrupa, it is the teaching that Gampopa received from Milarepa. It occurs, however, that elements of Chagriwa’s instruction are also visible in Jigten Sumgön’s instruction translated below.

There exists a very profound and important commentary by Jigten Sumgön on Phagmodrupa’s teaching of the four yogas of mahāmudrā which has been translated by Alexander Schiller in his remarkable book on the four yogas.♦ 7 Jigten Sumgön mentions here that Milarepa’s transmission of the “two armours” – one concerning the “outer view,” the other “inner wisdom” – includes the following instructions. (1) All thoughts and mental afflictions did not arise from anywhere, which is the dharmakāya, they did not disappear anywhere, which is the sambhogakāya, they abide neither outside nor inside, which is the nirmāṇkāya, and they do not exist anywhere, which is the svabhāvikakāya. They have always been like that.♦ 8 (2) This knowledge is cultivated in meditative practice until thoughts and mental afflictions have completely vanished, like the centre of space, free from all clouds. – Here, the “outer” and “inner” aspects appear to be that the first is an “outer view” in the sense of an analysis based on learning and reflecting and the second a cultivation of inner wisdom leading to realisation. These two aspects of “outer” and “inner” are differently interpreted in Jigten Sumgön’s instruction translated below.

Jigten Sumgön’s commentary of the four yogas also mentions the instruction Gampopa received from Chagriwa. These are, at first, that thoughts, even though they do not have a real existence, are “a kindness” (because they are a means of realisation). Moreover, thoughts are non-existent-[yet]-manifested (med sprul), which is to say that although they are in truth not existent (med), they manifest (sprul) as possessing qualities, as a kindness, or as indispensable for the arising of the potential (rtsal) of discriminating knowledge.♦ 9 Furthermore, one overcomes thoughts on arising (phrad ‘joms), which is the conviction that at the very moment a thought arises, it is without origination. Thoughts are, still furthermore, retraced (rjes snyags). In Gampopa’s teaching, this is done by asking: Where did they come from?, and so forth (as above). In the commentary on the four yogas, thoughts are “removed without experiencing their taste.”♦ 10 These three points of Chagriwa’s instruction (together with two further points) also appear in Jigten Sumgön’s instruction translated below, at the very end of the text, almost as an afterthought.

The next section in the commentary of the four yogas refers to the four aspects of “taking as the path” (lam ‘khyer rnam pa bzhi). These are the instructions for taking thoughts, mental afflictions, illness (nad), and demons (gdon) as the path.♦ 11 These, too, are to be practised as not arising from anywhere, not disappearing anywhere, abiding neither outside nor inside, and not existing anywhere, that is, they are the four kāyas. In the instruction translated below, afflictions and illnesses seem to be mentioned at the beginning as the armour of the outer view. Concerning the afflictions, Jigten Sumgön mentions (as he does in his Single Intention 6.17) that one would have to be very attentive concerning even the most subtle evil. Proceeding like that, the virtuous disciplined conduct is never interrupted. Concerning illnesses, the instruction translated below states that neither the illnesses of the outer body nor the sufferings of the inner mind are to be abandoned. That is, they are not to be seen as a “bad” thing to be removed, but rather as something to be taken as the path. In general, instructions of how to take thoughts, mental afflictions, illnesses, and demons as the path can be found in many teachings of Jigten Sumgön (which can hopefully be explored on another occasion).

The commentary of the four yogas mentions in the section on the armour concerned with inner wisdom only that the knowledge that thoughts are unarisen, etc., is cultivated in meditative practice until thoughts and mental afflictions have completely vanished. The instruction translated below, however, has a different emphasis. Here, again in accordance with the Single Intention (6.9), Jigten Sumgön points out that the experience of the samādhis is not a quality in itself (and its not-arising is not a defect). In the commentaries of the Single Intention, a similar point is made for the three samādhis of bliss, luminosity, and non-thought. Clinging to bliss, one is only sidetracked to the realm of desire (Skt. kamadhātu), clinging to luminosity, to the realm of form (Skt. rūpadhātu), and clinging to non-thought, to the realm of formlessness (Skt. arūpyadhātu). The reason that the experience of bliss, luminosity and freedom from thoughts is not leading to any useful realisation is that it is a conditioned phenomenon and thus impermanent, but realisation is not conditioned and thus also not impermanent. An unconditioned realisation, however, cannot be achieved by a conditioned practice. This point is also briefly mentioned in a different section of the commentary of the four yogas.♦ 12

In conclusion, while Jigten Sumgön’s commentary of the four yogas is a systematical presentation of Phagmodrupa’s teaching, including a presentation of the teaching that mind, thought, and dharmakāya arise together, the instruction translated below is a direct personal instruction for the practice of the “yoga of the innate,” i.e. the practice of appearances and thoughts as unarisen and nothing to be abandoned.


The Instruction of the Yoga of the Innate: The Two Armours♦ 13

I pay homage to the guru!

At the time of practising the yoga of the innate, there are two armours: Being careful about the most subtle evil and not to interrupt the virtuous disciplined conduct are the armour of the outer view. Not to abandon illnesses of the outer body and sufferings of the inner mind is also the armour of the outer view.

Secondly, concerning the armour of the inner discriminating knowledge (shes rab), not to view the arising of the samādhi of the abiding, tranquil, and blissful mind as a qualitiy, and, likewise, not to view its non-arising as a defect is the armour of the inner discriminating knowledge.

By being endowed with the two armours in that way, one regards the thoughts with the eye of discriminating knowledge (Skt. prajñā). Thereby, at the time of non-distraction, thoughts are primordially unarisen. When there is a distraction, a thought arises. However, if you want to know if that thought has to be abandoned, it has not to be abandoned. It is seen as possessing qualities, as a kindness, or as indispensable.♦ 14 Why is that so? On the basis of that thought arises the potential (rtsal) of discriminating knowledge. Therefore, as a non-existence of thoughts is not established after [merely] abandoning that thought, examine from where that thought first arose. It did not arise from anywhere else but your empty nature of the mind, like, for instance, a cloud arises [in] the empty sky. By examining where [the thought] disappears at the end, [you will find that] it does not go anywhere but your [mind’s nature], like a bubble disappears in the water. By examining how [the thought] exists in the time between [arising and disappearing], [you will find that] it is not established as an essence of anything at all and does not abide anywhere.

In that way, by examining and practising the thought as unborn, the idea arises that somehow all phenomena of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa do not exist apart from your mind. By maintaining that experience, at first, it is an experience like the falling of snow upon a lake [i.e., the thought and the nature of the mind become of one taste]. By maintaining that [experience], it is then an experience like a fire spreading in a forest [i.e., the fire of experience is well-nourished with thoughts]. Then, thirdly, it is an experience like meeting a person one is familiar with from earlier times [i.e., there is an immediate recognition of the true nature of thoughts and appearances also in the post-meditative state]. [Now], you must not examine [anymore] from where that thought first arose, how it abides in the middle, and where it disappears at the end. That freedom from arising, stopping, and abiding is the dharmakāya.

[Generally, thoughts] are turned back by overcoming [them] on arising (phrad ‘joms), retracing (rjes snyags, also: phyi bsnyags), non-existence-[yet]-manifested (med sprul), removing hopes [of obtaining nirvāṇa] and giving up fright [concerning saṃsāra] (re ba ‘gag dogs pa bsu),♦ 15 and repenting from the heart (? zhe nas ‘gyod pa).

The Mahāmudrā-Yoga of the Innate is complete.

1. [sGam po pa’i gsung ‘bum, vol. 2, p. 356: dus la snga phyi med cing dngos bzang ngan med pas lhan cig skyes pa’o; in: Schiller (2014: 454).]

2. [Gampopa, Dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhus lan: sems nyid lhan cig skyes pa chos kyi sku// snang ba lhan cig skyes pa chos sku’i ’od// sems nyid lhan cig skyes pa ni/ sems kyi rang bzhin nam ngo bo de yin/ snang ba lhan cig skyes pa ni/ de las byung ba’i rnam par rtog pa de yin/ de yang nyi ma dang nyi ma’i ’od bzhin nam/ tsan dan dang tsan dan gyi dri lta bu yin/. (Unfortunately, TBRC provides no folio numbers.)]

3. [Phag mo gru pa, lHan cig skyes sbyor, in: Schiller (2014: 454): sems dang rnam rtog chos sku gsum// dang po lhan cig skyes pa de// gdams pas sems su sbyor ba’i phyir// lhan cig skyes sbyor zhes su bshad//.]

4. [Cf. Gampopa’s characterisation of the difference between the two in Schiller (2014: 453, ftn. 37).]

5. [Phyag chen lhan cig skyes sbyor gyi ngo sprod, vol. 9, p. 489 f.; Cf. Sobisch 2006: 53.]

6. [Chagriwa (rGya lCags ri Gong kha ba) was one of the most important Kadampa teachers of Gampopa.]

7. [Chos rjes mdzad pa’i rnal ‘byor bzhi’i grel pa rnam dag rang ldan, in: Schiller 2014: 344-378 (Tib. text), 462-539 (translation and notes).]

8. [In his Phyag chen lhan cig skyes sbyor gyi ngo sprod, Jigten Sumgön explains that “the not being established as anything whatsoever is the dharmakāya, completely unhindered expression is the sambhogakāya, and the non-duality of these two and non-abiding anywhere whatsoever is the nirmaṇakāya” (Sobisch 2006: 43).]

9. [Cf. also Schiller 2014: 368.]

10. [See Trungram (2004: 196) and Schiller (2014: 506).]

11. [Cf. Schiller (2014: 369).]

12. [Cf. Schiller (2014: 361).]

13. [Khams gsum chos kyi rgyal po, vol. 5, no. 745.]

14. [Phagmodrupa describes thoughts as “the kind teacher” and as Buddha, Dharma, and Saṅgha; Chos rjes mdzad pa’i rnal ‘byor bzhi’i ‘grel pa rnam dag rang ldan, in: Schiller (2014: 344 ff., esp. 368).]

15. [This point is explained by Gampopa in the context of the sameness of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa. By realising saṃsāra itself to be nirvāṇa, one does not hope anymore to obtain nirvāṇa from somewhere. Instead, one realises nirvāṇa itself to be saṃsāra and does not have a fear of falling into a “bad” saṃsāra. See sGam po pa’i gsung ‘bum, vol.1, p. 223: re dogs med pa ni/ de ltar ‘khor ba nyid mya ngan las ‘das pa rtogs pas/ mya ngan las ‘das pa logs nas thob tu re ba med la/ mya ngan ‘das pa nyid ‘khor bar rtogs pa dang / ‘khor ba ngan pa cig tu lhung gis dogs pa yang med de/.]

Bibliography (Tibetan Texts)
Chos rjes mdzad pa’i rnal ‘byor bzhi’i grel pa rnam dag rang ldan, in: Schiller 2014: 344-378 (Tib. text), 462-539 (translation and notes).

Dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhus lan, by Gampopa, TBRC W3JT13326.

Khams gsum chos kyi rgyal po, vol. 5, Zab chos of ‘Jig rten gsum mgon’s Collected Works, Dheradun, 2017.

lHan cig skyes sbyor, by Phagmodrupa, in: Schiller (2014: 454).

Phyag chen lhan cig skyes sbyor gyi ngo sprod ma rig mun sel ye shes snang ba’i rgyan, by Jigten Sumgön, in: The Collected Works of Khams gsum Chos kyi rgyal po thub dbang Ratna Shri, Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche (ed.), Dheradun: D.K. Institute, vol. 9, p. 489 f.; cf. Sobisch 2006.

sGam po pa’i gsung ‘bum, Khasup Gyatsho Shashin, Delhi, 1975.

(Western Academic Publications)

Schiller, Alexander (2014) Die „Vier Yoga“-Stufen der Mahāmudrā-Meditationstradition, (Indian and Tibetan Studies 2), Hamburg: Department of Indian and Tibetan Studies, Universität Hamburg.

Sobisch, Jan-Ulrich (2006) Einführung in die Mahāmudrā „Angeborene Einheit,“ München: Otter Verlag.

Trungram, Gyaltrul Rinpoche Sherpa (2004) Gampopa, the Monk and the Yogi: His Life and Teachings, PhD thesis, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University.

This year, I have published much less on this blog because I have been very busy with a wonderful project at a Consortium of the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg called “Fate, Freedom and Prognostication: Strategies for Coping with the Future in East Asia and Europe.” ( In this project, I have studied Central and East Asian divination texts and worked together with Solvej Hyveled Nielsen on a dice divination text of Achi Chökyi Dölma. Solvej has also contributed a translation of a mala divination text of Tara that is ascribed to Atisha. We hope that we will soon be able to present our book Divining with Achi and Tara, which will include a comparative study of dice divination, detailed interviews with Khenchen Nyima Gyaltsen Rinpoche and Lho Ontul Rinpoche, appendices on the specialised Tibetan terminology of divination and more.

This blog will now undergo a small transformation. Instead of being solely devoted to Jigten Sumgön’s “Single Intention” (dGongs gcig), it will from now on be concerned with his teachings in general. I will, therefore, soon migrate a few articles from my other blog, “The World of Jigten Sumgön,” to this blog. In truth, whichever teaching of Jigten Sumgön we study, we will find that it always reflects the central idea that the teachings of all Buddhas have only one single intention.

The blog entry of today is concerned with Jigten Sumgön’s teaching of the two resolves for awakening (bodhicitta). In agreement with the idea of the unity of all teachings, he maintains that the “two bodhicittas” are actually “of a single taste like sesame and sesame oil.” Moreover, ultimately speaking, bodhicitta is not different from the absolute nature of reality, or Buddha nature, which is also the thing to be dedicated.

The teaching is brief but very profound.

Bestowing the pith instructions of cultivating the two resolves for awakening on Yeshe Tseg

Om swasti! Respectfully I pay homage with my body to the feet of glorious Phagmodrupa, protector of the three worlds, and essence of the gnosis of body, speech, and mind of the Buddhas of the three times. With a pure mind, I take refuge.

In general, to achieve supreme, completely awakened Buddhahood, there is nothing but the resolve for awakening whereby complete awakening can be obtained. If [the resolve] is lacking, that is a certain cause [for awakening] not to arise. This resolve for awakening has two aspects. From the point of view of cultivating the conventional resolve for awakening, when you engage in the cultivation of the root of immeasurably vast virtue – or, respectively, in the first morning session – you bless the three longer and shorter periods of time, thinking from the depth of your heart and the marrow of your bones:

May all sentient beings – my mothers who are as infinite as space – have happiness, be free from suffering, and obtain the precious, supreme, and complete awakening. To achieve that, I will bind body, speech, and mind to virtue until I have obtained Buddhahood, I will bind body, speech, and mind to virtue until I die, and I will bind body, speech, and mind to virtue from today until tomorrow.

Then, for the practice, you should train all the roots of virtue of body, speech, and mind in terms of that intention. Moreover, having cultivated the resolve for awakening in the morning or when you are at ease to do so, you must take the roots of virtue of body, speech, and mind that implement that [intention] as an example and dedicate the virtue that is accumulated by you and all others in the three times and the root of the virtue of true reality♦ 1 to complete awakening. That is the conventional resolve for awakening, the intention of all masters of skill – the Buddhas of the three times – and the great treasure that will accomplish all temporary and ultimate qualities. Therefore, you should cultivate the conventional resolve for awakening.

Now, how is the ultimate resolve for awakening practised? The ultimate resolve for awakening is exactly that same conventional resolve for awakening, but free from the extremes of all proliferations of arising, ceasing, and abiding, the true reality. Similarly, Acarya Arya [Nagarjuna], too, says:♦ 2

Samsara and nirvana
are not two.
Understanding the nature of samsara
is called nirvana.

And the precious guru [Phagmodrupa], too, says:

Complete pacification of proliferation is the absolute resolve for awakening.
[That and] conventional preliminary resolve and its actualisation thoroughly moistened with compassion
are of a single taste like sesame and sesame oil.

Therefore, [relative and absolute resolve] are to be known as inseparable. And with that regard, even though there are systems of practicing [the absolute] as an emptiness where all things are discerned by way of atoms and divisions of parts of atoms, we maintain that it is realised only by way of devotion to the excellent guru, since that is what has been maintained by our precious guru [Phagmodrupa]. Similarly, the Exalted One has taught it in the Shri Hevajra Tantra:

That, which is not expressed by others, the inborn,
which one cannot find anywhere,
one must know through the ultimate guru sacrifice♦ 3
and through one’s merit.

Therefore, we assert the essence of the nature of the mind to be without interruption when the meaning that is beyond expression and thought and that is not the object of theoreticians – the inborn gnosis that is free from proliferation – has arisen as something that arises naturally through the devotion to the excellent guru and by the gathering of the accumulation of merit that precedes that. How is that practised? First, sit well on a comfortable seat in the cross-legged position and remain with the five limbs of concentration. Then, first, cultivate the resolve for supreme awakening and cultivate the body as the deity of Mantra. Then, meditate the excellent guru on the top of your head or in your heart and remain in a state of an unfabricated mind.

Do not grasp [the mind] as existing – that would be eternalism.
Do not meditate it as non-existent – that would be annihilism.
Do not meditate it “without grasping” – that would be “fabricated by the mind.”
Leave [the mind] fresh, unfabricated, and unbound.
From making supplications [to the guru in this state] and habituating [to that],
you and others, whatever exists – all of samsara and nirvana –
become one mind, spontaneously present, single,
free from something to be meditated and meditating,
without the hopes and fears of losing and obtaining results,
free from “I,” “mine,” “subject and object,”
and without [merely] imagining to be separate [from that] or not.
You are, without interruption,
the spontaneously present svabhavikakaya.
Dedicate the merit afterwards
and also at other occasions for [the obtaining of] great awakening.
The way to make the dedication is this:
“May all beings achieve in every possible way the excellence
of whatever virtue exists of all beings,
which has been achieved, will be achieved, and is being achieved
on the stages of that excellence.”
Thus, you must dedicate the root of virtue.
This pith instruction of the Precious One
has been written requested by an excellent being.
May all beings obtain supreme awakening
by the merit arising from that.

[This text, which] has been requested by Gompa Yeshe Tseg from the precious Guru, the Glorious Drigungpa, is complete.

Byang chub sems gnyis nyams su blang ba’i gdams ngag ye shes rtsegs la gnang ba
‘Jig-rten-mgon-po’i gSung ‘bum, vol. kha, pp. 275-280.

1. [Tib. dge ba, lit. “existing virtue.” The Kagyüpas maintain the existence of virtue within the nature of reality, which is the Buddha nature, and which can be dedicated to awakening. The Drugpa Kagyüpa use the term “inherent virtue” (gnas pa’i dge ba ) and the Taklung Kagyüpas “natural virtue” (rang bzhin gyi dge ba ).]

2. [Yuktishastika 6; P vol. 95, p. 11/2/8. The actual quote has some variants: srid pa dang ni mya ngan ‘das// gnyis po ‘di ni yod ma yin// srid pa yongs su shes pa nyid// mya ngan ‘das zhes bya bar brjod//. “Existence and nirvana,// these two do not exist.// Thoroughly knowing existence// is called ‘nirvana.’//”

3. [My translation of bla ma’i dus mtha’ bsten pa as “ultimate guru sacrifice” reflects Jigten Sumgön’s teaching of ultimate guru devotion as seeing the guru as the dharmakaya.]

Im Jahr 2002 lehrte Seine Heiligkeit, der Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche, den Grundtext von Tilopas „Ganges-Mahamudra“ in Medelon (Deutschland), im Drikung Ngaden Chöling. Bei einem Treffen in Dehradun bat ich ihn, zu diesem Text einen eigenen schriftlichen Kommentar zu verfassen, und ich versprach, die Grundlagen für eine Edition des Grundtextes zusammen zu stellen.

In den beiden folgenden Jahren sammelte verschiedene handschriftliche, außerkanonischen Überlieferungen der Gangama zusammen, z.B. die Handschrift der Mündlichen Überlieferung des Cakrasamvara, die alte Handschrift der Mündlichen Überlieferung der Vajrayogini, und die Handschriftensammlung der Indischen Grundtexte der Mahamudra. Auf diese Weise habe ich insgesamt vierzehn Textausgaben so zusammengestellt, dass für jede einzelne Silbe des Grundtextes alle Varianten aller Ausgaben sichtbar wurden. Diese mehr als 100 Seiten umfassende „Kollationierung“ war die Grundlage für die Belehrungen, die Seine Heiligkeit im Herbst 2008 in Dehra Dun (Indien) gab. Während der gesamten Belehrungen behielt er den kollationierten Text bei sich auf dem Tisch und entschied von Zeile zu Zeile, welches jeweils die beste Lesart des Grundtextes ist. Während der Belehrungen machte sich Seine Heiligkeit Notizen, die er dann später zu einem vollständigen und hier vorliegenden Kommentar ausgearbeitet hat. Es ist das erste Mal, dass in nicht-tibetischer Sprache eine „Gangama-Mahamudra“ Textausgabe und Übersetzung erscheint, die auf der Texttradition der ursprünglichen Handschriften beruht und die auf der Basis von mehreren verfügbaren Textausgaben ediert wurde.

Seine Heiligkeit übergab mir seinen Kommentar bereits im Jahr 2009 mit der Bitte, diesen ins Deutsche zu übersetzen. Leider haben mich verschiedene andere Projekte für geraume Zeit davon abgehalten. Im Frühjahrssemester 2015 habe ich schließlich die Chance ergriffen, und zusammen mit einigen Studenten an der Universität Kopenhagen Teile des Kommentars gelesen und bei dieser Gelegenheit den gesamten Text übersetzt.


Hier ist nun das Ergebnis, das für jeden frei zugänglich sein soll:

CHU SHEL Unicode

Ich wünsche Euch viel Freude beim Lesen!


During the last three months, I had the chance to work a bit on the 8th Karmapa’s enormous commentary of the Single Intention. Actually, it is not really one commentary, but a collection of texts composed between the mid-1530s and the mid-1540s. Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s style of writing is remarkably different from the other commentaries of the Single Intention that I have studied so far, in particular, the early 13th century commentaries by Dorje Sherab and Rinchen Jangchub, and the 17th-century commentary by Rigdzin Chökyi Dragpa. But it is not only the writing style but also his whole approach that differs from the commentaries of Drikungpa authors.

One aspect of the Karmapa’s special approach to the Single Intention is that he discusses it as if it were (largely) a philosophical text. At one point, Mikyö Dorje indicates that the Single Intention was conceived of from the beginning as a “system of philosophical tenets” text (Skt. siddhanta). He says that Jigten Sumgon once predicted that his chief disciple Sherab Jungne would compose such a “system of philosophical tenets” on the basis of the teachings he had given to him. Moreover, one of the Karmapa’s commentaries is called General Summary of the Tenets [of the] Single Intention, and he claims here that the Single Intention is the “siddhanta of the Kagyupas.” In fact, much of Mikyö Dorje’s writings on the Single Intention is largely using the topical themes of Jigten Sumgon’s vajra-statements as stepping stones to expound his own philosophical views.

A siddhanta (Tib. grub mtha’) or “system of philosophical tenets” usually expounds non-Buddhist and Buddhist views one-by-one, refuting the respectively lower through the respectively higher view, until it arrives at the ultimate view, usually Madhyamaka, which refutes all other views. The Drikungpas themselves have never authored such a text. There is just one Drikungpa text by Dombu Jowo Dowa, who might be Jigten Sumgon’s disciple Chöje Tsadrelwa, that has the term siddhanta in its title. Although it touches briefly on some general topics of philosophy, it is really not in any way a typical “system of philosophical tenets” text at all. In fact, all the usual themes of the siddhanta authors, like defining which of the three wheels of Shravaka teachings, Perfection of Wisdom teachings, and Buddha Nature teachings is the definite wheel, etc., have been avoided by Jigten Sumgon, who much prefers to reveal the unity of all teachings and not its differentiations – hence his legacy is known as the Single Intention. (I have already made a few remarks on Jigten Sumgon’s approach to philosophical views here).

In truth, the position Jigten Sumgon and his successors took with regard to philosophical tenets can only be described as dismissive or, sometimes, perhaps, ironic. Thus, Jigten Sumgon states in the Single Intention (4.13):

The truth is veiled by all [philosophical] tenets whatsoever.

And in a praise of his guru Phag mo gru pa’s lives he says:♦ 1

May those who mistake the system of tenets,
which is a knot of the mind, as the Buddha’s intention,
realise true reality
and may their mindfulness be purified in itself.

And, as the final lines in a text about the primordial purity of all phenomena, he states:♦ 2

If one’s pure mind, [which is like] the sky,
is, due to the conceptions of the inconceivable collections
of the various views of the [philosophical] tenets,
covered with clouds of conceptions, which are false,
one cannot purify it
because one has not understood and realised
the natural state of the mind as it is.
Therefore, engage in this pure essence of the mind
that is spontaneously taken hold of in itself
without being covered by the clouds of thoughts, which are false.

Moreover, echoing the Mahasiddha Saraha, he says:♦ 3

All the views starting from the Non-Buddhists’ view of permanence and nihilism and up to the Madhyamikas’ [view] are something that is a mind-made duality. Since I have not studied these views of the various tenets, I do not know them.

Furthermore, an introduction to the Single Intention contained in the block print of Dorje Sherab’s commentary states:♦ 4

The grasping of that which is free from the extremes of all proliferation [of] “existence” and “non-existence” [is] the conceptuality (rtog pa ) of the tenets, the sphere of the [proliferating] mind (blo’i yul ). It is mind-made, but not empty.

In fact, this introductory text of unknown authorship discusses the concept of tenets with the same negative attitude as is illustrated above. It also offers a curious statement that it ascribes to Jigten Sumgon (but which I could not yet identify). Here, he says, somewhat ironically:♦ 5

Virtue [is] natural virtue (gshis kyi dge ba): Due to being good “white” [natural] virtue, a virtue that apprehends the characteristic “virtue” will not become non-virtue. Non-virtue [is] natural non-virtue (gshis kyi mi dge ba ): Due to being “black” [natural] non-virtue, the non-virtue that apprehends the characteristic “non-virtue” will not turn into virtue. This is my great system of tenets.

These words ascribed to Jigten Sumgon are summarising an important aspect of his Single Intention teaching according to which something is either by nature virtuous or non-virtuous, and nothing and no one can change that – neither the highest philosophical view, nor a skilful means of mantra, nor the Buddha himself. That, the passage states, is Jigten Sumgon’s “philosophy,” not any of those intellectual conceptualisations that one finds in the siddhanta literature.

Judging from all this evidence, I think that the prophecy of which the Karmapa speaks, according to which Sherab Jungne would compose a siddhanta on the basis of Jigten Sumgon’s vajra-statements, namely the Single Intention, is perhaps a “creative invention.” The Karmapa may have thereby justified his own predominantly philosophical approach to Jigten Sumgon’s teaching. Or such a prophecy, if it existed, did not use the term “system of tenets” with its usual philosophical connotation, but rather in the ironical sense illustrated above.

It will be an important task for future research to investigate whether the Single Intention is in any other sense than the strictly “philosophical” paradigmatic for the whole of the Kagyupas. It is, indeed, time to ask ourselves what it is that makes the Kagyupas a distinctive tradition. The Single Intention is an excellent focus to start this work. My first glance at the Karmapa’s comments, however, has rather revealed differences of Jigten Sumgon’s and Mikyö Dorje’s approaches to the Dharma. But that was only a first attempt, and Mikyö Dorje’s approach is certainly not typical for the Karma Kagyupa up to his time. With all its diversity, it will be a challenging task to define the Kagyupas’ identity.

1. [Jigten Sumgon’s Collected Works (2001), vol. 1, p. 24: grub mtha’ blo yi mdud pa la// sangs rgyas dgongs par ‘khrul ba rnams// de nyid rtogs par gyur nas kyang // dran ‘dzin rang sar dag mdzad gsol//.]

2. [Jigten Sumgon’s Collected Works (2001), vol. 3, p. 358: ji ltar sems kyi gnas lugs ‘di// ma go rtogs par ma gyur pas// grub mtha’ lta ba’i bye brag tshogs// bsam gyis mi khyab rnam rtog gis// rang sems rnam dag nam mkha’ ‘di// log rtog sprin gyis bkab na ko / rnam dag gsal bar mi ‘gyur bas// sems kyi ngo bo rnam dag ‘di// log rtog sprin gyis mi dgab par// lhun grub rang sa zin du chug//.]

3. [Jigten Sumgon’s Collected Works (2001), vol. 6. p. 434: mu stegs rtag chad nas dbu ma’i bar gyi lta ba thams cad blos byas pa’i gzung ‘dzin zhig yin te/ grub mtha’ so so’i lta ba de ngas thos pa ma byas pas mi shes/. He repeats very similar words in vol. 5, p. 491: yang bka’ gdams pa rnal ‘byor pa mtshan nyid pa gang yin yang so so’i lta bsgom spyod pa gsum yod de/ ‘di grub mtha’ mkhan kun la phyi rol mu stegs nas dbu ma’i bar du lta sgom mi ‘dra ba mang po yod de grub mtha’ ma mnyan pas mi shes/.]

4. [Khog dbub (dGongs gcig edition of Kagyu College, 2007, p. 219 f.): yod med spros pa thams cad kyi// mtha’ dang bral ba’i ‘dzin pa yang // grub mtha’i rtog pa blo yi yul// blo yis byas kyang stong pa min//. dGongs pa gcig pa’i khog dbub , in: dGongs pa gcig pa’i ‘grel chen snang mdzad ye shes sgron me , vol. 1, bKa’ brgyud nang bstan mtho slob khang, 2007, pp. 197-258. The text is ascribed there to rDo rje shes rab, but that is doubtful.]

5. [Khog dbub dGongs gcig edition of Kagyu College, 2007, , p. 218 f.: nyid kyi zhal nas dge ba gshis kyi dge ba ste/ dge ba dkar pos dge ba’i mtshan nyid ‘dzin pa’i dge ba mi dge bar mi ‘gyur/ mi dge ba gshis kyi mi dge ba ste/ mi dge ba nag pos mi dge ba’i mtshan nyid ‘dzin pa’i mi dge ba dge bar mi ‘gyur bya ba ‘di nga’i grub mtha’ chen ]

The 8th Karmapa, Mikyö Dorje, upon being invited to Drikung by the 18th throne holder Rinchen Namgyal (1519-1576, reg. 1534-1565), spent there one year (1536-37) together with his famous “secretary,” the great historian and 2nd Pawo Rinpoche, Tsuglag Trengwa (1504-1566). During this time, he studied and extensively taught Jigten Sumgon’s Gongchik, which he saw as the tenet’s of the Kagyüpas. Later (1544-46), using his own notes and the notes of Tsuglag Trengwa, he wrote several texts which are nowadays collectively known as the 8th Karmapa’s commentary of the Gongchik. Here I would like to present a very brief excerpt from his comments upon vajra-statement 6.6, which teaches that guru devotion is the only means for obtaining realisation. In this excerpt, the Karmapa explains the Buddhist notion of faith (Tib. dad pa). He says:

“The Ratnolka says:♦ 1

If you have faith in the Victor and the Victor’s teachings,
faith in the teachings of the Victor’s sons,
and faith in supreme awakening,
that is the arising of the resolve of great beings.

And the Shikshasamuccayakarika says:♦ 2

Make the root of faith stable
and make the mind the support for awakening.

What kind of faith is that? The Abhidharmasamuccaya says:♦ 3

What is faith? It is the firm conviction (mngon par yid ches pa), admiration, and aspiration with regard to what exists and is endowed with [good ] qualities and abilities. Its has the function of forming the basis for striving.

Thus, ‘what exists’ are the causes and results of the five skandhas such as ‘action and result’ and ‘suffering and the origin [of suffering].’ ‘What is endowed with [good] qualities’ are the Three Jewels. ‘Abilities’ is the truth of cessation, [namely] the thought: ‘I am able to obtain cessation; I am able to cultivate the path in my mental continuum.’ Because of the faith of conviction [that understands] ‘action and result’ and ‘suffering and the origin [of suffering]’ as infallible, and since the Three Jewels that are free from the faults of ‘suffering and [its] origin,’ etc., are without all defects and endowed with all [good] qualities, by cultivating [faith] in their presence, the small hairs of the body are standing on end and tears flow [from one’s eyes], etc. [That is] the faith of admiration. The aspiration to obtain cessation and the aspiration to cultivate the path in the mental continuum are ‘the faith of aspiration.’ Now, if, first, there [arises] admiration from seeing and hearing about the qualities of the Supreme Jewels, and from that the aspiration to obtain their qualities, and if one is convinced that the faults that veil those qualities are faults, that forms the basis that is the function of causing all faults and defects to be abandoned. [All that] is faith.”

The 17th Karmapa recently re-published the 8th Karmapa’s commentary:

The excerpt is taken from the second part (smad cha) of ‘Jig rten gsum gyi mgon po ‘bri gung pa chen po’i dam chos dgongs pa gcig pa’i kar TIka las/ tshoms dang po’i rnam bshad karma bka’ brgyud kyi mkhyen pa rab gsal bka’i me long mchog tu ‘bar ba bzhugs so//

1. [These lines are actually from the Arya Ratnolka Namadharani Mahayanasutra (‘Phags pa dkon mchog ta la la’i gzungs zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo), D vol. 57, fol. 63v (variants in bold): rgyal dang rgyal ba’i chos la dad gyur cing // sangs rgyas sras kyi spyod la dad byed la// byang chub bla na med la dad gyur nas// skyes bu chen po rnams kyi sems skye’o//.
Sonam Spitz informed me that according to Shakya mchog ldan (brDa’i gnas bye brag tu rtogs ces bya ba’i tshig leu byas pa, p. 378, vol. 24/ya, TBRC-no WG00WGS1016899), “dKon mchog ta la la” is just a bad translation of the Sanskrit title “Ratnolka”, which indeed reads correctly “dKon mchog sgron me” in Tibetan. Thus, the “Ta la la” is in fact the Ratnolka.]

2. [Shikshasamuccayakarika, D vol. 111, fol. 1v (variants in bold): dad pa’i rtsa ba brtan bya ste// byang chub la yang blo brtan bya//. In the Shikshasamuccaya, these lines are followed by the quote preceding in the present text.

3. [Abhidharmasamuccaya, D vol. 134, fol. 48v: dad pa gang zhe na/ yod pa nyid dang / yon tan can dang / nus pa rnam la mngon par yid ches pa dang / dang pa dang ‘dod pa ste/ ‘dun pa’i rten byed pa’i las can no//.]

Dear friends,

I have started a second blog under the above name at
While I will continue to publish in the present blog on the Single Intention (dGongs gcig), in the new blog I will chiefly write about things I find while reading Tibetan works of the Drikung Kagyü tradition (other than the dGongs gcig).

When I do research, I often stumble over gems that never make it into a book or an article, but which are too good to be left unnoticed and unavailable.

Have a look at the first entries and enjoy (and if you like it, become a follower)!