Tag Archives: Mahamudra

Already in India, the teaching styles of Mahāmudrā were quite diverse. There is a bewildering multitude of terminology like “mental inactivity” (yid la mi byed pa), “innate yoga” (lhan cig skyes sbyor), “ordinary consciousness” (tha mal gyi shes pa), or “natural mind” (gnyug ma[ʼi sems]). This posting will look at some aspects of the “natural mind” in Gampopa’s writings. We will see that, like the innate yoga, the natural mind practice uses thoughts for realizing the dharmakāya, yet it seems that it does so (at least at Gampopa’s time) in a more radical way. Future research may show that subsequent masters like Jigten Sumgön might have combined both into a single approach.

However, before I investigate Gampopa’s instructions on the matter, I would like to make a few remarks about translating esoteric instructions. My main point is that there is something not right when the terminology of such instructions is treated as if we are reading a philosophical debate or a more systematized form of a text. Esoteric instructions in the Kagyüpa tradition, especially those pointing out the nature of the mind or teaching mahāmudrā practice, are often spontaneously spoken words recorded by disciples or sketchy notes that reply to questions from disciples. Sometimes they are delivered in the form of poetry or song. Characteristic for them is the use of colorful metaphorical language (“space,” “light,” etc.), sometimes in the form of similes (“like a rainbow”). These metaphors are done an injustice when we translate them like the technical terms they sometimes turn into in the later literature of systematical treatises and commentaries. Such powerful metaphors as “clear light,” which originally illustrates the unobstructed quality of the mind, then turns into the abstract noun “luminosity,” and a term like “innate,” which refers to inborn qualities, morphs into such a terrible linguistic monstrosity as “co-emergent.” Translated like that, they are not metaphors anymore; they have solidified from a once-dynamic metaphor to a cold technical term. To use such technical terms when translating esoteric instructions is, in most cases, a mistake.

When we read a scholarly work, its technical language is often well-explained and specified by definitions. Although these explanations and definitions may vary between traditions or even from scholar to scholar, the scholarly activity of analyzing, defining, and teaching makes it often relatively easy to analyze and translate such terms. On the other hand, esoteric instructions are often brief to the point that they even seem cryptic. Their colorful terminology is much harder to pin down. Such texts virtually avoid definitions. They are on the spot compositions spontaneously delivered by experienced masters, often to remedy a problem in the meditative practice of their disciples. However, even though the terms are sometimes literally the same as in more technical texts, we should never make the mistake in our translations to define esoteric language through later technical terminology. That would be like putting the cart before the horse: The mahāmudrā instructions of the early Kagyüpa masters precede their more technical explanations of later generations. Therefore, translations of such texts should reflect the original and powerful metaphor, not the technicality of a philosophical debate.

That being said, let us have a look at the term “natural [mind]” (gnyug ma[ʼi sems]) as it appears in numerous esoteric instructions of Gampopa. To understand this key term in Gampopa’s system, we must carefully read it in the context of the teachings in which it occurs. Looking at more than fifty occurrences of the term in Gampopa’s instructions, we find it often in close vicinity of such terms as these:

– ordinary consciousness (tha mal gyi shes pa)

– nature of the mind (sems nyid)

– innate gnosis (lhan cig skyes pa’i ye shes)

dharmakāya (chos sku)

– true reality (de nyid)

– sameness (mnyam pa nyid)

– unerring emptiness (stong pa nyid ma nor ba)

All these are terms pertaining to the level of the absolute truth. Accordingly, when we find descriptions of the qualities of the natural mind, we find that it

– cannot be seen, pointed out, or expressed

– has no basis or support, and no labels can be attached to it

– has no tendency toward anything and no aim

– is not produced from causes and conditions

– is like a dream or an illusion

In Buddhism, these descriptions through negation are typical for something belonging to the sphere of the absolute truth. After all, absolute truth is beyond the sphere of the mind and cannot really be expressed in words. The experience of the natural mind is therefore like a dream or an illusion, not because it is false, but because it cannot be expressed. Gampopa says that it is like the happiness of a young girl and the dream of a mute person—both the girl and the mute person cannot express their experience. However, there are also a few descriptions in positive terms. The natural mind is also described as genuine, fresh, and simple, and it is explained to possess clarity and bliss. The descriptions through negation tell us what the natural mind is not, and the positive descriptions provide us with some kind of an idea of how it feels when such a mind is recognized. Nevertheless, these are not precise definitions as we can find them in scholarly works. Such a mind seems to escape all attempts of precise linguistic expression.

In some instructions, however, Gampopa provides several interesting statements about the natural mind that can provide us with a clearer idea of what it is. First of all, he describes some preliminary steps for attaining it. Accordingly, an essential preliminary practice is to cut off all kinds of thoughts pertaining to subject and object, or, in other words, to the apprehending and the apprehended. This places the natural mind in the vicinity of the teaching that all phenomena are nothing but mind: If there is no thought about subject or object, then there is no idea of an apprehending mind and an apprehended thought or object. This is the state in which one must dwell, namely a state of nonduality, in order to experience the natural mind. However, this is not a state of total emptiness or nothingness. Gampopa says (vol. 6, 8r, all quotes are from the Derge edition):

The essence [of the natural mind] is not nonexistence but to be separate from all arising and ceasing. The result [of the natural mind] is that nonexistence of arising and ceasing, the dharmakāya.

Therefore, thoughts are not merely cut off. Instead, one dwells in the realization that the thought that arises has no place where it originates from, no space where it dwells, and nothing into which it finally disappears. Moreover, Gampopa explicitly says (vol. 27, 9r): “Thought is the path of the natural mind.” But how does that fit with the many other passages where he speaks in the context of the natural mind of “nonthought” and “cutting off all thoughts?” A crucial passage may be the following, where Gampopa explains two systems of taking thoughts as the path. The first part of the passage says (vol. 10, 47v):

What is the difference between the natural [mind] (gnyug ma) and the innate yoga (lhan cig skyes sbyor, Skt. sahajayoga)? Innate yoga [also] takes thoughts as the path. Thoughts have two aspects: good thoughts and bad thoughts. Whichever arises, the thought is taken as the path by understanding it as a blessing. Thus, concerning the roaming in samsara, one roams because one has not recognized thoughts. There is no fear of samsara since one has made thoughts the path.

This is a very abbreviated explanation of the innate yoga. He states that thoughts are understood as a blessing, but he does not explain here how thoughts are used for practice. Elsewhere, Gampopa is more explicit and thus, before we continue with the above quote, let us briefly look into some other passages. In an instruction on innate yoga, Gampopa says (vol. 19, 17r):

All phenomena of the whole world are one’s mind. Come to a definitive decision [about that], thinking that the mind is without origination. Rest serenely inside yourself without evaluation. Remain without evaluating “this is fresh,” “it exists,” or “it does not exist.” Rest without hesitation, like a swallow enters its nest. “Unfabricated:” remain free from blocking or establishing, as the garuda soars in the sky. “Loosely:” remain without exertion. Have a smooth attentiveness that has abandoned all the activities of a person and remain [like that]. “Remain:” remain without blocking faults and establishing qualities. Remain lose and utterly without fabrication. Like that, be without focussing and rest at ease. Thereby, with a clear and unobstructed essence of the consciousness, loosen [the mind] through relaxation within complete purity, and practice! If relaxation is best, practice is best. If it is medium, practice is medium. If it is low, practice is low; it is impossible that it is any other way than that. Within dwelling like that, pacify any proliferating thought! This is like a cloud adventitiously rising in the sky that is pure by itself: It arises from the sky, and in the end, it dissolves back into it, yet it dissolves into the sky itself, and it is of the sky’s nature. An adventitious thought may arise, but it arose from the innate nature of the mind itself. In the middle, it remains, but it remains as the innate nature of the mind itself. In the end, it dissolves, but it dissolves into the innate nature of the mind itself. Know it to be not beyond the innate nature of the mind itself and practice [like that].

Although later authors like Jigten Sumgön go into more details, this should suffice here. The meditative practice described here is characterized by being both relaxed and attentive. Arising thoughts are to be pacified but not by blocking them, but by understanding that the thought arises from and dissolves back into mind itself, and between that, while it remains, it is none other than the mind itself. This is often explained through the example of waves and the ocean: The waves are not different from the ocean itself. Understanding it like that, Gampopa’s disciple Phagmodrupa, who was Jigten Sumgön’s root guru, says about the innate yoga (vol. 2, p. 288):

The rainbow of duality disappears in space. The emerging of thoughts and getting involved in them disperse like clouds. In this fine palace of spontaneous victory, the person of the natural mind who is free from proliferation sits cross-legged on the seat beyond thoughts.

And elsewhere very clearly (vol. 4, p. 292):

Thoughts arise in the essence of the natural mind, but like the darkness at daybreak, they disappear by themselves.

Garchen Rinpoche has pointed out that this innate yoga practice of mahāmudrā is a training, but when one dwells entirely without thoughts as described in Tilopa’s Gangama Mahāmudrā, that is the result. Probably to point out the difference between the training and the result, Gampopa, from the perspective of the natural mind, stated these critical words to those who practice the innate yoga (continuing the above passage of vol. 19, 17r):

Because you take thoughts as the path, the thing to be cut off and the means of cutting off are perceived as two, and there is no end to thoughts. A thought that arises is recognized. However, that one that arises may be recognized, but if you do not perceive the essence, you are not up to the task! When a chance to perceive [the essence] arises, that is it! There is no other chance to perceive [the essence]!

The point is here that a practitioner of the innate yoga may dwell in a state where mind and thoughts are like the ocean and its waves, but the actual task is to perceive in that arising thought the “essence.” Gampopa teaches explicitly that apart from thoughts, there is no other way to realize the dharmakāya! Gampopa’s disciple, Lama Zhang, also taught that one must take thoughts as the path. He said (vol. 8 of the 2004 edition, pp. 566‒67):

Following after afflictions or thoughts one is an ordinary person, abandoning or stopping them, one is a Hīnayānist, purifying and transforming them with mantra, mudrā, and samādhi, one is [a practitioner of] the outer mantra. Here, through the endeavor of bad thoughts, one is not spoiled. By looking at the essence of an arising thought, thoughts subside for those in whom experience arises, and something is inevitably added to their experience. For those in whom realization arises, there is nothing to subside.

And he quotes the “precious guru” (Gampopa?):

If one does not use thoughts for one’s favor, the time when gnosis arises will never come. A fire whose firewood is discarded is like a lotus on dry ground. If you know how to use thoughts in your favor, all outer and inner obstructions become aids for meditative practice.

Thus, what is that essence of thoughts? There is an interesting passage in the collected works fo Marpa Lotsāva, where he says (vol. 2, 211‒12):

Just that essence of thoughts (rtog pa’i ngo bo) is the “self of phenomena” and the “self of the person.” If you know the nature of thoughts to be clear light, then they stop by themselves.

Thus the self of phenomena—the belief that phenomena have an independent existence—and the self of the person—the belief in an independent existence of the self, like a soul—are here likened to thoughts. This is undoubtedly an interesting remark and deserves further investigation. I believe that the point here is that, like thoughts, the self has no origin, abiding, and cessation. Since the self shares these characteristics with the thoughts—the very thing with which we identify ourselves so much—realizing the essence of thoughts will cause the realization of the self: There is no identifiable essence. Therefore, the essence, the true nature of the self or natural mind, can be realized by understanding thoughts. Once one has realized the essence, thoughts and mind are realized as having no origin, abiding, and cessation—they are the dharmakāya. Gampopa actually explains this in the continuation of the above-quoted passage on the difference between the natural mind and the innate yoga (vol. 10, 47v):

If [the essence, i.e.] the “I” is not perceived [as it is], thoughts have no end. Through that, you possess the defect of endlessness with regard to that [arising of thoughts]. The “I” is [in truth] at the beginning unborn, in the middle without remaining, and at the end without cessation. It is without an essence to be identified. Its nature is uninterrupted. Its charateristics are beyond the mind. Now, from the perspective of mantra, with respect to the characteristics, even the buddhas of the three times do not perceive it. With respect to the absence of characteristics, it is uninterrupted at all times. From the perspective of the perfections,  there is nothing to be removed from the “I” and there is not the slightest thing to be added. Watch perfectly the perfect purity! If you see the perfectly pure, you are free. Here, the perfectly pure is the “I.”

This essence, the perfectly pure self, the “I,” is, of course, the “natural mind” (gnyug ma), or dharmakāya. Thus, thoughts are used to attain the state of nonthought, just as firewood is completely burned up in a fire.

(German translation below)
Judging from their titles, many instructions in the Collected Works of Jigten Sumgön have been granted to a particular person. The recipient of the present instruction – Geshe Ladrangpa – is otherwise unknown. However, his title “Geshe” at least reveals that he was an educated student who had probably received his title in one of the training centers that already existed at that time, such as Sangphu (founded in 1074), Bodong, Sakya, Zhalu, and so on.

The core of this mahāmudrā instruction is once again the Fivefold Path with (1) bodhicitta, (2) the practice of one’s personal deity, (3) guru yoga, (4) mahāmudrā, and (5) dedication. What is special about this instruction is that the section on mahāmudrā practice is highlighted by its length and is quite tantric in nature. This practice instruction is an instruction for a secluded retreat. It is explicitly mentioned twice here that one should practice compassion for all those who harm one, since from this arises a compassion that is not merely feigned. The two practices of the deity and guru yoga, which are the second and third limbs of the Fivefold Path of Mahāmudrā, are mentioned only briefly at first, and the main focus of this instruction is mahāmudrā practice.

However, in the mahāmudrā instruction that follows, the two previous limbs of yidam practice and guru yoga are clarified once again. After all, one practices mahāmudrā after visualizing oneself as the deity and, although it is not explicitly mentioned here, one also visualizes the guru in one’s heart. In many yidam deity practice texts it is said that one should practice at certain external tantric pilgrimage sites, each of which is associated with places on oneʼs own body and with certain stages of the bodhisattvas, and so on. However, since the vīras, herukas, and ḍākinīs who reside at these places have all originated from the Vārāhī family, one should, according to Jigten Sumgön, focus primarily on practicing Heruka and Vajravārāhī in a retreat.

What is it about all the outer pilgrimage sites and their inhabitants? The first Chungtsang Rinpoche, Rigdzin Chökyidragpa, in his History of the Cakrasamvara Tantra, describes how at the beginning of kaliyuga, the age of discord, some gandharvas, yakṣas, rākṣasas, nāgās, asuras, kinnaras, and ḍākinīs wanted to dominate the three realms of existence. They therefore invited the fearsome Maheśvara and his consort Kālaratri. Maheśvara then emanated 24 lingams to 24 places and called these beings to hold sacrificial festivals at these places. Therefore, sex, human flesh, blood, etc. were offered at these places to please Maheśvara. Thereupon, innumerable Buddhas came and emanated innumerable deities who manifested samādhis and maṇḍalas, by which innumerable corrupt and malignant beings were liberated from Maheśvaraʼs retinue. Eventually Cakrasamvara and Vajravārāhī manifested, subdued Maheśvara and Kālaratri, and made them their disciples (they also eventually became Buddhas). The deities of Cakrasamvara’s maṇḍala eventually subjugated all the gandharvas, yakṣas, rākṣasas, nāgās, asuras, kinnaras and ḍākinīs. Thus, all these places where previously the demons celebrated perverted sacrificial festivals became tantric pilgrimage sites of Buddhism.

However, as Jigten Sumgön teaches here, in a retreat it is sufficient to practice Heruka and Vajravārāhī, for all the deities of the various pilgrimage sites actually emerged from Varāhī. Then “there is no doubt that the vicious vīras and ḍākinīs will be destroyed by wrath.” It is therefore important to perceive all the deities of the maṇḍalas exclusively as Heruka and Vārāhī, that is, all the vīras are the Heruka, and the 37 ḍākinīs are the Vārāhī. Thus, in practice, one accomplishes the subjugation of the malicious Maheśvaras and his consort Kālaratri. In fact, the first torma to be offered after the blessing of the nectar goes to these gandharvas, yakṣas, rākṣasas, nāgās, asuras, kinnaras and ḍākinīs, who were formerly of Maheśvara’s retinue and are now bound to Cakrasamvaras maṇḍala.

The practice lineage of the Cakrasamvara Tantra has been transmitted in such a way that all members of the lineage have attained complete realization and therefore each bless their disciples “with the boundless ocean of the qualities of Heruka and of the Yogini.” This blessing is transmitted through the lineage of gurus alone. Therefore, one should “practice day and night without interrupting one’s efforts!” This uninterrupted practice and passionate devotion to the guru brings about the blessing transmission. “This is the vital point of the ultimate mahāmudrā!”

Then follows in the text the profound instruction on the actual practice of mahāmudrā as Jigten Sumgön had received it from Phagmodrupa, and the dedication of the merit.

I would like to thank Khenchen Nyima Gyaltsen for his advice and Katrin Querl, Yeshe Metok and Sonam Spitz for their support in translating this text. This perfect teamwork is always a great pleasure!


Summary of the Key Points of the Unsurpassed Vehicle for the Great Geshe Ladrangpa
I bow with the crown of my head to the lotus feet
of the peerless, precious guru
who is the essence of the body, speech, and mind
of all the Buddhas of the three times.

[Foundation of All Practice: The Fivefold Path]
I heard this guru say:
“Wholesome in the beginning, middle and end
is what has been taught by the Buddhas of the past,
what will be taught by the Buddhas of the future,
and what the perfect Buddha who appeared in the present
has taught over and over again.♦ 1
The key points are (1) the resolve to awaken, (2) [practicing] one’s personal deity,
(3) respectful devotion to the excellent guru,
and (4) ultimate mahāmudrā,
as well as (5) dedicating what has been accumulated in the three times
and the inherent virtue♦ 2 to supreme awakening.
Apart from these [five points], there is no other excellent dharma.
Practice this until perfect awakening is attained!”

First, the key point of the resolve to awaken:
Practice great compassion again and again
for the enemies who hate you and adversaries who harm you,
and for those who stand in the way
of your liberation and omniscience and hinder you.
This is to be practiced as follows:
Mark a retreat place in a very secluded place
and give up all activities and busyness.
You must dwell without distractions to body and mind!
Practice compassion for all those who harm you
with uninterrupted effort and familiarize with that.
When compassion has authentically arisen,
until you have attained perfect Buddhahood,
commit body, speech, and mind to virtue,
so that all immeasurable beings may attain perfect joy,
freedom from all suffering, and finally Buddhahood.
Commit your body, speech and mind to virtue
until you die and until tomorrow at the same time!
Imagine this and commit yourself!
With this special yogic discipline you will achieve it like this!

Visualize yourself as your unsurpassed deity
and practice it as something that appears but is without a true nature,
like a brilliantly clear rainbow.
When you visualize like this,
then strive until you are exhausted!
Visualize this and commit yourself!
With this special yogic discipline, you will achieve it like this!

[Guru Yoga]
The glorious Phagmodrupa
‒ precious protector
and embodiment of the Buddhas of the three times ‒
is my excellent personal guru,
who removes the defects and perfects the qualities
in all of us, disciples and servants.

As the King of Empowerment teaches,♦ 3
and as it says in the Vasantatilakā:♦ 4
“Practice continuously in the places
of Heruka and Vārāhī!”
The Heruka subdues the vicious ones,
and the venerable Ḍākinī
grants the immeasurable qualities that are beneficial and joyful.
Following the countless authoritative scriptures,
there are many views regarding the practice
relating to the primary and secondary seats (pīṭha and upapīṭha),
the primary and secondary fields (kṣetra and upakṣetra),
the primary and secondary assembly places (chandoha and upacchandoha),
the primary and secondary funeral places (śmaśāna and upaśmaśāna),♦ 5
and the palaces of the five Buddhas,
however, all the vīras of herukas
and all the thirty-seven kinds of ḍākinīs
all have come from the Vārāhī family.
Since the Exalted One has taught this,
do not practice anything other than these two!♦ 6
There is no doubt that the malicious vīras and ḍākinīs
will be destroyed by the wrath,♦ 7
and that the precious protector of beings
will bless you with the boundless ocean of the qualities
of Heruka and of the Yogini.♦ 8
The precious guru who blesses all the qualities in us
through the methods of the hidden mantra
brings about all happiness and well-being.
You should practice day and night
without interrupting your efforts!
Never interrupt your passionate devotion!
When you realize the blessing of your precious guru,
he will be there!
This is the vital point of ultimate mahāmudrā!
I heard the Venerable One say:
“Your own mind is self-originated and spontaneously present.
Do not spoil that which is immutable in the three times
by the notion of meditative absorption and post-meditative phase.
You would fall into the teachings of the Vaibhāśikas!”♦ 9
Since this is what the Protector of the World taught,
follow this instruction!
Your own mind is self-originated and spontaneously present.
It was not created at a previous time,
nothing should be taken away from it at present,
and nothing should be added to it in the future.
From your own mind, which was not created, nothing should be taken away
and nothing should be added to it – it is unchanging and nothing to be practiced.
Should it seem possible to practice it, that is a mistake.
It is spontaneously present and uncreated.
It is to be introduced by the spiritual teacher!
The excellent beings should realize it!
You should not put your hope in anyone other than yourself!
The excellent, peerless guru said that,
apart from realizing and not realizing,
there is no attainment or non-attainment of the fruit.♦ 10
Although it is actually inappropriate to write this down in words,
the spiritual teacher, who is the perfect master
of the precious teachings of [Shakya]muni,
has adorned it with the precious three trainings
and enriched it with the jewels of study, reflection, and practice.
He carries the banner of victory of the teaching that never disappears.
Since the great teacher Ladrangpa
has made this request with faith and devotion,
I have written this down. May all become bearers of the vajra
through the merit that has arisen!

[Dedication of Merit]
Thus, the root of merit is dedicated:♦ 11
“May all merit present in all beings,
which has been accomplished, is being accomplished, and will be accomplished,
result in all beings manifesting themselves according to this good nature
on the respective stages as the supreme excellence (Samantabhadra).”

Follow what has been expressed in this dedication
by the unsurpassed vajra victory banner!

This precious instruction requested by the teacher Ladrangpa, which is a summary of the key points of the unsurpassed vehicle, is hereby concluded.

Die Mahāmudrā-Instruktion für Ladrangpa
Viele Instruktionen in den Gesammelten Werken Jigten Sumgöns sind von ihrem Titel her jeweils einer bestimmten Person gewährt worden. Der Empfänger dieser Instruktion – Geshe Ladrangpa – tritt anderwertig nicht in Erscheinung. Sein Titel „Geshe“ verrät jedoch zumindest, dass es sich um einen gebildeten Schüler handelt, der seinen Titel in einem der zu jener Zeit bereits existierenden Ausbildungszentren erhalten hatte, z.B. in Sangphu (gegr. 1074), Bodong, Sakya, Zhalu, und so weiter.

Der Kern dieser Mahāmudrā-Instruktion ist wieder einmal der Fünfgliedrige Pfad mit (1) Bodhicitta, (2) Praxis der persönlichen Gottheit, (3) Guru-Yoga, (4) Mahāmudrā, und (5) Widmung. Das besondere an dieser Instruktion ist, dass der Abschnitt zur Mahāmudrā-Praxis durch seine Länge hervorgehoben und sehr tantrisch geprägt ist. Diese Praxis-Instruktion ist eine Instruktion für eine Klausur an einem abgeschiedenen Ort. Es wird in ihr zweimal ausdrücklich erwähnt, dass man Mitgefühl für alle üben soll, die einem Schaden zufügen, denn daraus entsteht ein Mitgefühl, das nicht bloß vorgetäuscht ist. Die beiden Übungen der Gottheit und des Guru-Yoga, die das zweite und dritte Glied des Fünfachen Pfades der Mahāmudrā sind, werden zuerst nur kurz erwähnt, das Hauptaugenmerk der Instruktion ist die Mahāmudrā-Praxis.

In der folgenden Mahāmudrā-Instruktion werden die beiden vorherigen Glieder der Yidam-Praxis und des Guru-Yoga aber noch einmal präzisiert. Tatsächlich ist es ja so, dass man Mahāmudrā praktiziert, nachdem man sich selbst als Gottheit visualisiert hat und – auch wenn es hier nicht ausdrücklich erwähnt wird – den Guru in seinem Herzen. In vielen Praxistexten zur Yidam-Gottheit heißt es nun, das man an bestimmten äußeren tantrischen Pilgerstätten praktiziert, die jeweils mit Stellen am eigenen Körper und mit den Bodhisattvastufen verbunden sind, und so weiter. Da jedoch die Vīras, Herukas und Ḍākinīs, die an diesen Orten wohnen, allesamt aus der Vārāhī-Familie hervorgegangen sind, sollte man – so Jigten Sumgön – sich vor allem darauf konzentrieren, den Heruka und die Vajravārāhī in einer Klausur zu praktizieren.

Was hat es mit all den äußeren Pilgerstätten und deren Bewohnern auf sich? Der erste Chungtsang Rinpoche, Rigdzin Chökyidragpa, beschreibt in seiner Geschichte des Cakrasamvara Tantras wie zu Beginn des Kaliyuga, dem Zeitalter der Zwietracht, einige Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Nāgās, Asuras, Kinnaras und Ḍākinīs die drei Bereiche der Existenz dominieren wollten. Deshalb luden sie den furchterregenden Maheśvara und seine Gefährtin Kālaratri ein. Dieser emanierte dann 24 Lingams an 24 Orte und rief diese Wesen dazu auf, an diesen Orten Opferfeste zu veranstalten. Deshalb wurde an diesen Orten Sex, Menschenfleisch, Blut usw. dargebracht um Maheśvara zu erfreuen. Daraufhin kamen unzählige Buddhas herbei und emanierten unzählige Gottheiten, die Samādhis und Maṇḍalas manifestierten, durch die unzählige verdorbene und bösartige Wesen aus dem Gefolge Maheśvaras befreit wurden. Schließlich manifestierten sich Cakrasamvara und Vajravārāhī, unterwarfen Maheśvara und Kālaratri und machten sie zu ihren Schülern (sie wurden schließlich auch zu Buddhas). Die Gottheiten des Cakrasamvara-Maṇḍalas unterwarfen schließlich alle Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Nāgās, Asuras, Kinnaras und Ḍākinīs. So wurden all diese Orten, an denen zuvor die Dämonen perverse Opferfeste feierten, zu tantrischen Pilgerstätten des Buddhismus.

Wie Jigten Sumgön hier jedoch lehrt, reicht es aus, den Heruka und die Vajravārāhī in der Klausur zu praktizieren, denn alle Gottheiten der verschieden Pilgerstätten gingen aus der Varāhī hervor. Dann „gibt es keinen Zweifel, dass die bösartigen Vīras und Ḍākinīs durch den Zorn vernichtet werden.“ Es ist deshalb wichtig, dass man alle Gottheiten des Maṇḍalas ausschließlich als Heruka und Vārāhī wahrnimmt, das heißt: Alle Vīras sind der Heruka, und die 37 Ḍākinīs sind die Vārāhī. So vollziehen man in der Praxis die Unterwerfung des bösartigen Maheśvaras und seiner Gefährtin Kālaratri nach. Tatsächlich geht der erste Torma, der nach der Segnung des Nektars dargebracht wird, an diese Gandharvas, Yakṣas, Rākṣasas, Nāgās, Asuras, Kinnaras und Ḍākinīs, die früher zu Maheśvaras Gefolge gehörten und nun an Cakrasamvaras Maṇḍala gebunden sind.

Die Praxislinie des Cakrasamvara Tantras wurde so überliefert, dass alle Mitglieder der Überlieferungslinie eine vollständige Verwirklichung erlangt haben und deshalb jeweils ihre Schüler „mit dem grenzenlosen Ozean der Qualitäten des Heruka und der Yogini segnen.“ Dieser Segen wird allein durch den Guru überliefert. Deshalb soll man „Tag und Nacht üben, ohne die Anstrengungen zu unterbrechen!“ Diese ununterbrochene Übung und die leidenschaftliche Hingabe zum Guru bewirken die Segensübertragung. „Das ist der Kernpunkt der letztendlichen Mahāmudrā!“

Dann folgt im Text die tiefgründige Instruktion zur eigentlich Praxis der Mahāmudrā, wie Jigten Sumgön sie von Phagmodrupa erhalten hatte, und die Widmung des Verdienstes.

Ich möchte an dieser Stelle Khenchen Nyima Gyaltsen für seine Hinweise danken, sowie auch Katrin Querl, Yeshe Metok und Sonam Spitz für ihre Unterstützung bei der Übersetzung dieses Textes. Dieses perfekte Teamwork ist immer eine große Freude!


Zusammenfassung der Kernpunkte des unübertroffenen Fahrzeugs für den großen Geshe Ladrangpa

Ich verneige mich mit der Krone meines Kopfes vor den Lotusfüßen
des unvergleichlichen, kostbaren Gurus,
der die Essenz von Körper, Rede und Geist
aller Buddhas der drei Zeiten ist.

[Grundlage aller Praxis: Der fünfgliedrige Pfad]
Ich hörte diesen Guru sagen:
„Heilsam am Anfang, in der Mitte und am Ende
ist das durch die Buddhas der Vergangenheit Gelehrte,
was auch die Buddhas der Zukunft lehren werden,
und was der vollkommene Buddha, der in der Gegenwart erschien,
immer und immer wieder gelehrt hat.♦ 12
Die Kernpunkte sind (1) der Entschlusses zu erwachen, (2) [die Praxis] der persönlichen Gottheit,
(3) die respektvollen Hingabe zum exzellenten Guru
und (4) letztendliches Mahāmudrā,
sowie (5) der Widmung des in den drei Zeiten Angesammelten
und des innewohnenden Heilsamen♦ 13 für das höchste Erwachen.
Abgesehen von diesen [fünf Punkten] gibt es keinen anderen exzellenten Dharma.
Praktiziere dies, bis das vollkommene Erwachen erlangt ist!“

Zuerst der Kernpunkt des Entschlusses zu erwachen:
Übe immer wieder großes Mitgefühl
für die Feinde, die dich hassen und Widersacher, die dir Schaden zufügen,
und für die, die deiner Befreiung und Allwissenheit
entgegenstehen und dich behindern.
Dies ist wie folgt zu üben:
Stecke an einem sehr abgeschiedenen Ort
deinen Klausurplatz ab und gebe alle Aktivitäten und Geschäftigkeit auf.
Du mußt ohne Ablenkungen für Körper und Geist verweilen!
Übe mit ununterbrochener Anstrengung Mitgefühl für alle,
die dir Schaden zufügen, und gewöhne dich daran.
Daraus entsteht ein Mitgefühl, das nicht bloß vorgetäuscht ist.
Übe dies dann in Hinsicht auf alle Wesen.
Wenn Mitgefühl authentisch entstanden ist,
verpflichte, bis du vollkommene Buddhaschaft erlangt hast,
Körper, Rede und Geist dem Heilsamen,
damit alle unermeßlichen Lebewesen
vollkommene Freude, Freiheit von allem Leid
und schließlich die Buddhaschaft erlangen mögen.
Verpflichte bis zu deinem Tod und bis morgen zum selben Zeitpunkt
Körper, Rede und Geist dem Heilsamen,
Stelle dir dies vor und verpflichte dich!
Mit dieser speziellen yogischen Disziplin wirst du es so erreichen!

Visualisiere dich als deine unübertroffene Gottheit
und übe sie als etwas, das erscheint, aber ohne eine wahre Natur ist,
wie ein strahlend klarer Regenbogen.
Wenn du so visualisierst,
dann bemühe dich, bis du erschöpft bist!
Stelle dir dies vor und verpflichte dich!
Mit dieser speziellen yogischen Disziplin wirst du es so erreichen!

[Guru Yoga]
Der glanzerfüllte Phagmodrupa
‒ kostbarer Beschützer
und Verkörperung der Buddhas der drei Zeiten ‒
ist mein exzellenter persönlicher Guru,
der bei uns allen, den Schülern und Dienern,
die Fehler beseitigt und die Qualitäten vollendet.

So, wie der König der Ermächtigung es lehrt,♦ 14
und wie es im Vasantatilakā heißt:♦ 15
“Praktiziere ununterbrochen an den Plätzen
des Heruka und der Vārāhī!”
Der Heruka unterwirft die Bösartigen
und die ehrwürdige Ḍākinī
gewährt die unermeßlichen Qualitäten, die nützlich und freudvoll sind.
Folgt man den zahllosen autoritativen Schriften,
gibt es viele Auffassungen hinsichtlich der Praxis
bezüglich der Haupt- und Nebensitze (pīṭha und upapīṭha),
der primären und sekundären Felder (kṣetra und upakṣetra),
der Haupt- und Nebenversammlungsorte (chandoha und upacchandoha),
der primären und sekundären Leichenplätzen (śmaśāna, upaśmaśāna),♦ 16
und der Paläste der fünf Buddhas,
jedoch sind alle Vīras der Herukas
und alle die siebenunddreißig Arten von Ḍākinīs
allesamt aus der Vārāhī-Familie hervorgegangen.
Da der Erhabene dies gelehrt hat,
praktiziere nichts anderes
als diese Beiden!♦ 17
Es gibt keinen Zweifel, dass die bösartigen Vīras und Ḍākinīs
durch den Zorn vernichtet werden,♦ 18
und dass der kostbare Beschützer der Wesen dich
mit dem grenzenlosen Ozean der Qualitäten
des Heruka und der Yogini segnet.♦ 19
Der kostbare Guru, der alle Qulitäten in uns
durch die Methoden des verborgenen Mantra segnet,
bewirkt alles Glück und Wohl.
Du solltest Tag und Nacht üben,
ohne die Anstrengungen zu unterbrechen!
Unterbreche niemals dein leidenschaftliche Hingabe!
Wenn du den Segen deines kostbaren Gurus erkennst,
wird er da sein.
Das ist der Kernpunkt der letztendlichen Mahāmudrā!
Ich hörte den Ehrwürdigen sagen:
ADein eigener Geist ist selbst-entstanden und spontan gegenwärtig.
Verdirb nicht das, was in den drei Zeiten unwandelbar ist,
durch die Vorstellung von meditativen Vertiefung und nach-meditativen Phase.
Du würdest den Lehren der Vaibhāśikas verfallen!♦ 20
Da dies der Beschützer der Welt lehrte,
folge dieser Instruktion!
Der eigene Geist ist selbst-entstanden und spontan gegenwärtig.
Er wurde nicht zu einer früheren Zeit erschaffen,
gegenwärtig sollte ihm nichts entzogen werden,
und in der Zukunft sollte ihm nichts hinzugefügt werden.
Dein eigener Geist, der nicht geschaffen wurde, dem nichts entzogen
und nichts hinzugefügt werden sollte, ist unwandelbar und nichts, was zu praktizieren ist.
Sollte es möglich erscheinen, ihn zu praktizieren, ist das ein Irrtum.
Er ist spontan gegenwärtig und unerschaffen.
Er soll durch den spirituellen Lehrer eingeführt werden!
Die exzellenten Wesen sollen ihn verwirklichen!
Du sollstest in niemand anderen als dich selbst deine Hoffnung setzen!
Der exzellente, unvergleichliche Guru sagte,
dass es, abgesehen vom Verwirklichen und Nicht-Verwirklichen,
kein Erlangen oder Nicht-Erlangen der Frucht gibt.♦ 21
Obwohl es eigentlich unpassend ist, dies in Worten niederzuschreiben,
hat der spirituelle Lehrer, der der vollkommene Herr
der kostbaren Lehren des [Shakya]muni ist,
es mit den kostbaren drei Schulungen verziert
und mit den Juwelen von Studium, Reflexion und Praxis angereichert.
Er trägt das Siegesbanner der niemals untergehenden Lehre.
Da der große Lehrmeister Ladrangpa
mit Vertrauen und Hingabe diese Bitte vorgebracht hat,
habe ich dies niedergeschrieben. Mögen Alle durch das entstandene Verdienst
zu Trägern des Vajra werden!

[Widmung des Verdienstes]
So wird die Wurzel des Verdienstes gewidmet:♦ 22
“Möge alles Verdienst, das bei allen Wesen vorhanden ist,
das vollbracht wurde, wird, und werden wird,
dazu führen, dass sich alle Wesen dieser guten Natur entsprechend
auf den jeweiligen Stufen als die höchste Exzellenz (Samantabhadra) manifestieren.”

Folge dem, was in dieser Widmung durch den unübertroffenen Vajra-Siegesbanner
zum Ausdruck gebracht worden ist!

Diese von dem Lehrmeister Ladrangpa erbetene kostbare Instruktion, die eine Zusammenfassung der Kernpunkte des unübertroffenen Fahrzeugs ist, ist hiermit abgeschlossen.

1. []Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti, D vol. 77, 2r5.
2. []The virtue accumulated in the three times is the accumulation of merit and wisdom, and the inherent virtue is the Buddha nature present in all beings.
3. []Phagmodrupa, Yid bzhin gyi nor bu rin po che dbang gi rgyal po lta bu’i gdams ngag blo gros, Collected Works, vol. 2, pp. 1‒66.
4. []Kṛṣṇācāryaʼs Vasantatilakā (dPyid kyi thig le) from the Cakrasaṃvara cycle, D no. 1448, vol. wa, fols. 298b2‒306b4.
5. []In very general terms, these places came into existence when the Heruka of the Cakrasaṃvara Tantra destroyed the fearsome Maheśvara and distributed his body parts in 24 main and eight secondary places.
6. []“These two” means Heruka-Cakrasaṃvara and Vārāhī.
7. []Vīras and ḍākinīs, before being subdued by the main deity (Cakrasamvara) and integrated into the maṇḍala, are dangerous beings. It is therefore important to perceive all the deities of the maṇḍalas exclusively as Heruka and Vārāhī, that is, all the vīras are Heruka, and the 37 ḍākinīs are the Vārāhī (Khenchen Nyima Gyaltsen).
8. []“Guardian of beings” (ʼgro baʼi mgon po) is here Jigten Sumgönʼs guru Phagmodrupa. He grants the qualities of separation from afflictions and the maturing of qualities (Khenchen Nyima Gyaltsen).
9. []Khenchen Nyima Gyaltsen explains this as follows: Usually the phase of meditative absorption is considered to be the same as space and the post-meditative phase is considered to be something completely different from it. But this is a mistake. The realization of that “which is unchanging in the three times,” that is, the nature of mind or mahāmudrā, is spoiled by such divisions. “Vaibhashika” here stands for the lowest Buddhist view, which is known for dividing things and then considering them to be truly existent.
10. []That is, the only thing that matters is whether or not one achieves realizatopn. Other results are of no importance. Phagmodrupa’s Works, vol. 3, p. 393.
11. []Buddhāvataṃsaka Mahāvaipūlyasūtra, D vol. 36, 165v. Read: red ʼgyur cig.
12. []Mañjuśrīnāmasaṃgīti, D vol. 77, 2r5.
13. []Das in den drei Zeiten angesammelte Heilsame sind die Ansammlungen von Verdienst und Weisheit, und das innewohnende Heilsame ist die in allen Wesen vorhandene Buddhanatur.
14. []Phagmodrupa, Yid bzhin gyi nor bu rin po che dbang gi rgyal po lta bu’i gdams ngag blo gros, Gesammelte Werke, Bd. 2, S. 1‒66.
15. []Kṛṣṇācāryas Vasantatilakā (dPyid kyi thig le) aus dem Cakrasaṃvara-Zyklus, D no. 1448, Bd. wa, fols. 298b2‒306b4.
16. []Ganz allgemein gesagt entstanden diese Orte, als der Heruka des Cakrasaṃvara Tantra den Maheśvara vernichtete und seine Körperteile an 24 Haupt- und acht Sekundärplätzen verteilte.
17. []Mit “diese Beiden” sind Heruka-Cakrasaṃvara und Vārāhī gemeint.
18. []Vīras und Ḍākinīs sind, bevor sie von der Hauptgottheit unterworfen und in das Maṇḍala integriert wurden, gefährliche Wesen. Es ist deshalb wichtig, dass man alle Gottheiten des Maṇḍalas ausschließlich als Heruka und Vārāhī wahrnimmt, das heißt: Alle Vīras sind der Heruka, und die 37 Ḍākinīs sind die Vārāhī (Khenchen Nyima Gyaltsen).
19. []“Schützer der Wesen” (‘gro ba’i mgon po) ist hier Jigten Sumgön’s Guru Phagmodrupa gemeint. Er gewährt die Qualitäten des Getrenntseins von Geistesgiften und der Heranreifung von Qualitäten (Khenchen Nyima Gyaltsen).
20. []Khenchen Nyima Gyaltsen erläutert dies folgendermaßen: Gewöhnlich wird die Phase der meditativen Vertiefung als raumgleich und die nach-meditative Phase als etwas komplett davon verschiedenes betrachtet. Das ist aber ein Fehler. Die Verwirklichung desses, „was in den drei Zeiten unwandelbar ist“, also der Natur des Geistes oder der Mahāmudrā, wird durch solche Unterteilungen verdorben. „Vaibhashika“ steht hier für die niedrigste buddhistische Sichtweise, die dafür bekannt ist, die Dinge zu unterteilen und dann als wahrhaft existent zu betrachten.
21. []Das heißt, dass es allein darauf ankommt, ob man Verwiklichung erlangt, oder nicht. Andere Resultate sind ohne Bedeutung. Phagmodrupa’s Werke, Bd. 3, S. 393.
22. []Buddhāvataṃsaka Mahāvaipūlyasūtra, D vol. 36, 165v. Lies: red ʼgyur cig.

There is brief instruction found in the third volume of Jigten Sumgön’s collected works that brings together three main instructions he had received from his guru, Phagmodrupa.

(A) The first is the ever-present Fivefold Path of Mahāmudrā, consisting of the resolve for awakening, the practice of the cherished deity (yi dam), guru yoga, mahāmudrā, and dedication. It is presented here very briefly as the following stages:

(1) Recollecting impermanence and death and the disadvantages of transmigration as the basis of all practices, which are a part of the four thoughts that turn the mind to the dharma, namely (a) the leisures and endowments of the precious human body, (b) impermanence and certain death, (c) karma, cause, and result, and (d) the disadvantages of saṃsāra. Jigten Sumgon urges his followers to practice these at the beginning of each practice session or at least at the beginning of the first session in the morning (vajra statement 2.14).
(2) The practice of love, compassion, and the resolve for awakening (bodhicitta).
(3) The practice of the body as the cherishes deity (yi dam).
(4) The practice of guru yoga by visualizing one’s guru in the center of one’s heart.
(5) The practice of “the mind,” i.e., of mahāmudrā, which is the central instruction here.
(6) The dedication of merit, which closes the instruction.

Mahāmudrā is here presented directly as the practice of the nature of the mind and in its very essence of non-attachment. This kind of non-attachment is not only the very essence of disciplined conduct, but also of mahāmudrā, which is why vajra statement 6.13 says: “That mahāmudrā and disciplined conduct (śīla) are one is an unsurpassed special teaching of Jigten Sumgön.” In the present context, Jigten Sumgon teaches that the practice of the mind is essentially non-attachment to the concept of existence and non-existence of the mind, non-attachment to the theory of “only mind,” which teaches that all appearances are only mind (an allusion to the philosophy of cittamātra), and non-attachment to the theory of remaining in the middle between these extremes, which is an allusion to the philosophy of madhyamaka.♦ 1 Moreover, this practice of the nature of the mind is also the non-attachment to the “three spheres,” which refers to the mental imputation of a practitioner, a practice, and an object of the practice, such as a deity or a mantra. It is in this way of perfect non-attachment to any dualistic conception that one should “abide perfectly with deity and mantra in the nature that is free from proliferation.”

(B) The second main instruction that is contained in this brief instruction is that such a practice that is free from these dualistic concepts of establishing and abandoning, where no conception of anything to think or to practice is left, is the point on the path were the third yoga of mahāmudrā, one-taste, is accomplished and view, practice, and realization become indistinguishable. The lines that we find here and that are attributed to Phagmodrupa are an approximate rendering of a verse found in the works of Phagmodrupa:♦ 2

If you do not let go or not let go, invoke or not invoke,
focus on an object, or set up a support,
and if you, not practicing anything, rest in that innate state,
you will experience that which has no boundaries nor center, like space.

This is to be practiced at all times while going, standing, lying down, and sitting.

(C) The third main instruction contained in this brief instruction is that the liberation that occurs when realization arises in such a practice is the guru’s blessing. This is expressed in the famous passage of the Hevajra Tantra that teaches that the innate “is to be known through the final moment of guru attendance.” As Jigten Sumgon explains elsewhere, this

“final moment of guru attendance” does not refer to making great offerings, performing many services, and attending the guru for a long time. Since beyond seeing the guru as dharmakāya and the arising of certainty about that, there is no occasion of regarding him as anything superior to that, this [seeing of the guru as dharmakāya] is called “the final moment.”♦ 3

Such an “attendance” is the true guru devotion as it is also taught in the Samādhirāja Sūtra, also known as the Candrapradīpa[sūtra], and it is the “supreme intention of the precious one” (Phagmodrupa).

The guruʼs profound intention:
View, practice, and realization are of one-taste and indistinguishable

Oṃ Svasti!

I bow my head to the feet of the supreme guru,
who has permanently overcome total darkness,
leads the beings away from the swamp of saṃsāra,
and reveals the meaning as it is and in all its variety.
For the sake of the devoted ones, I will write down these words
that have been requested by the good disciple,
who has gathered together the great collection of supreme accumulations
and has spoken a supplicated with respectful devotion.

In general, the state of being for all of us is that of [certain] death and impermanence. There is neither bottom nor limit to the sufferings of transmigration and the lower births. Because you and all others wish to escape from the sufferings of transmigration and lower births, practice at first love, compassion, and the resolve for awakening. Then practice that your body is your cherished deity. Imagine the excellent guru in the center of your heart. Then, your mind:

Don’t practice it as existing, that would be eternalism.
Don’t practice it as not existing, that would be nihilism.
Don’t practice it as mind, that would be ‘only mind’ (Skr. cittamātra).
Don’t practice it in the middle [between the extremes], that would be grasping.
The practitioner does not exist, the practice does not exist,
the deity does not exist, and the mantra, too, does not exist.
The Exalted One taught
that you should abide perfectly with deity and mantra
in the nature that is free from proliferation.

And the protector of the world [Phagmodrupa] taught:

If, neither letting go nor not letting go, neither invoking nor not invoking,
you practice that where there is nothing to think or practice,
View, practice and realization become one and the same taste, indistinguishable.

The meaning of this well-expressed instruction is this:
Rest freshly, unfabricated, and in an unbound state.
You must practice uninterruptedly
in all kinds of conduct such as going, standing, lying down, and sitting.
The Precious One maintained that when realization arises in that,
the complete liberation is the guru’s blessing.

Furthermore, Vajradhara instructed on that meaning repeatedly in the [Hevajra-Tantra], saying:

That which cannot be expressed by others, the innate,
which cannot be found anywhere,
is to be known through the final moment of guru attendence,
and through one’s own merit.

[And furthermore]:

Previously, for the sake of the King of Samādhi
I have served billions of Buddhas
to the East of this kingdom.

[This] has been taught in detail in the Candrapradīpa[sūtra]. And Maitreya said:

The absolute truth of the renunciants
is to be realized through devotion alone.

And since this has been taught, I request you to undertake great efforts with regard to devotion [to the guru], for realization arises from devotion. This is the supreme intention of the precious one.

Should the Ḍākinīs of the three places
not be pleased with the profound words I have written,
I request them to tolerate it
and also to extend their blessings.

May all the sentient beings
reach as much excellence as there exists
on the pure grounds that match the excellence
as much as excellence exists
and as much as has been, will be, and is [obtained].

[This instruction] is complete.

[This translation has been completed by Jan-Ulrich Sobisch on February 13, 2009 and slightly improved on April 20, 2021.]

‘Jig-rten-mgon-po’s works, vol. 3, pp. 291‒294.
ཨོཾ་སྭསྟི། གང་ཞིག་ཀུན་ནས་མུན་པ་གཏན་བཅོམ་ཞིང་།། འཁོར་བའི་འདམ་ནས་འགྲོ་བ་འདྲེན་མཛད་པ།། ཇི་སྙེད་ཇི་བཞིན་དོན་རྣམས་སྟོན་པ་ཡི།། བླ་མ་མཆོག་གི་ཞབས་ལ་སྤྱི་བོས་འདུད།། བསགས་པ་རབ་གྱུར་ཚོགས་ཆེན་བསགས་པ་ཡི།། སློབ་མ་བཟང་པོས་དད་ཅིང་གུས་པ་ཡིས།། གསོལ་བ་བཏབ་ནས་ཞུས་པའི་ཡི་གེ་འདི།། མོས་གུས་ཅན་གྱི་དོན་ཕྱིར་འབྲི་བར་བྱ།། སྤྱིར་བདག་ཅག་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱི་འདུག་ལུགས་ནི་འཆི་བ་མི་རྟག་པ་ཡིན། འཁོར་བ་དང་ངན་སོང་གི་སྡུག་བསྔལ་ལ་གཏིང་མཐའ་མེད་པ་ཡིན། འཁོར་བ་དང་ངན་སོང་གི་སྡུག་བསྔལ་ལས་རང་གཞན་ཐམས་ཅད་བརྒལ་བར་འདོད་པས། དང་པོར་བྱམས་པ་དང་སྙིང་རྗེ་བྱང་ཆུབ་ཀྱི་སེམས་བསྒོམ། དེ་ནས་ལུས་ཡི་དམ་གྱི་ལྷ་བསྒོམ། བླ་མ་དམ་པ་སྙིང་གི་དབུས་སུ་བསམ། དེ་ནས་རང་གི་སེམས། ཡོད་པར་མི་བསྒོམ་རྟག་ལྟ་ཡིན།། མེད་པར་མི་བསྒོམ་ཆད་ལྟ་ཡིན།། སེམས་སུ་མི་བསྒོམ་སེམས་ཙམ་ཡིན།། དབུ་མར་མི་བསྒོམ་འཛིན་པ་ཡིན།། སྒོམ་པ་པོ་མེད་སྒོམ་པའང་མེད།། ལྷ་མེད་སྔགས་ཀྱང་ཡོད་མ་ཡིན།། སྤྲོས་པ་མེད་པའི་རང་བཞིན་ལ།། ལྷ་དང་སྔགས་ནི་ཡང་དག་གནས།། བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་ཀྱིས་གསུངས་པ་དང་།། འཇིག་རྟེན་མགོན་པོའི་ཞལ་སྔ་ནས།། གཏང་ཡང་མི་བཏང་དགུག་ཀྱང་མི་དགུག་སྟེ།། བསམ་དུ་མེད་པ་སྒོམ་དུ་མེད་པ་ཉིད་བསྒོམ་ན།། ལྟ་སྒོམ་རྟོགས་པ་རོ་གཅིག་དབྱེར་མི་ཕྱེད།། བཀའ་བསྩལ་ལེགས་པར་གསུངས་པ་འདི་ཡི་དོན།། སོ་མ་མ་བཅོས་ལྷུག་པ་ཉིད་དུ་ཞོག།། འགྲོ་འཆག་ཉལ་འདུག་སྤྱོད་ལམ་ཐམས་ཅད་དུ།། རྒྱུན་ཆད་མེད་པར་ཉམས་སུ་བླང་བར་བྱ།། དེ་ལ་རྟོགས་པ་སྐྱེ་ན་རྣམ་གྲོལ་བ།། བླ་མའི་བྱིན་རླབས་ཡིན་པ་རིན་ཆེན་བཞེད།། ་དེ་ཡང་རྡོ་རྗེ་འཛིན་པ་ཡིས།། གཞན་གྱིས་བརྗོད་མིན་ལྷན་ཅིག་སྐྱེས།། གང་དུ་ཡང་ནི་མི་རྙེད་དེ།། བླ་མའི་དུས་མཐའ་བསྟེན་པ་དང་།། རང་གི་བསོད་ནམས་ལས་ཤེས་བྱ།། དོན་འདིར་ཡང་ཡང་བཀའ་བསྩལ་གསུངས།། ངས་སྔོན་ཏིང་འཛིན་རྒྱལ་པོ་འདི་ཡི་ཕྱིར།། རྒྱལ་པོ་ཁབ་ཀྱི་ཤར་ཕྱོགས་འདི་ཉིད་དུ།། སངས་རྒྱས་བྱེ་བ་ཁྲག་ཁྲིག་རིམ་གྲོ་བྱས།། ཟླ་བ་སྒྲོན་མ་རྒྱ་ཆེར་གསུངས་པ་དང་།། མི་ཕམ་མགོན་པོའི་ཞལ་སྔ་ནས།། རང་བྱུང་རྣམས་ཀྱི་དོན་དམ་ནི།། དད་པ་ཉིད་ཀྱིས་རྟོགས་བྱ་ཡིན།། ཞེས་པ་ལ་སོགས་པ་གསུངས་པས། མངོན་པར་རྟོགས་པ་མོས་གུས་ལས་སྐྱེ་བ་ལགས་པས། མོས་གུས་ལ་ནན་ཏན་ཆེ་བར་མཛད་པར་ཞུ། རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཡི་ཐུགས་དགོངས་མཆོག།། ཟབ་མོ་ཡི་གེར་བྲིས་པ་ལ།། གནས་གསུམ་མཁའ་འགྲོ་མ་མཉེས་ན།། བཟོད་པ་དམ་པ་བཞེས་ནས་ཀྱང་།། བྱིན་གྱིས་བརླབ་པར་མཛད་དུ་གསོལ།། འགྲོ་ཀུན་དགེ་བ་ཇི་སྙེད་ཡོད་པ་དང་།། བྱས་དང་བྱེད་འགྱུར་དེ་བཞིན་བྱེད་པ་དང་།། བཟང་པོ་ཇི་བཞིན་དེ་འདྲའི་ས་དག་ལ།། ཀུན་ནས་ཀུན་ཀྱང་བཟང་པོ་རེག་གྱུར་ཅིག།། རྫོགས་སོ༎ ༎

1. []See also the Samādhirāja Sūtra 9.27, which says: “Existence and nonexistence are extremes, and pure and impure, likewise, are extremes. Therefore, having abandoned such extremes, the wise one should not dwell in the middle either.”
2. []dGe ba’i bshes gnyen chos kyi blo gros la bskur ba’i gdams ngag, vol. 4, pp. 654‒661, p. 657: btang yang mi btang dgug kyang mi dgug ste/ /dmigs yul med par rten yang mi bca’ bar/ /bsgom du med pa gnyug ma’i ngang bzhag na/ /mtha’ dbus med pa nam mkha’ lta bur myong/ /.
3. []’Jig rten gsum mgon, bsTan bcos rdo rje ri zhes bya ba rgo na ba dang shākya dbang phyug gnyis la gnang ba, collected works, vol. 3, pp. 297–309, fol. 150v5. This interpretation builds on reading dus mtha’ (final moment) instead of dus thabs (timely method?) in the tantra.

(Deutsche Übersetzung weiter unten.)

The “Fivefold Path of Mahāmudrā” as we know it today was mainly shaped by Kunga Rinchen (1475‒1527), whose practice manual “Garland of Mahāmudrā” was translated by Khenchen Könchog Gyaltsen, and by Rigdzin Chökyi Dragpa’s disciple Könchog Trinlé Namgyal (17th c.), who wrote down his teachers oral instructions in the “Dharmakīrti Zhalung.” These manuals present the Fivefold Path as a fully ritualized form of practice with successive stages starting with a preliminary practice (Ngöndro) and individual rituals for practicing bodhicitta, yidam deity, guru yoga, mahāmudrā, and dedication.

But such a ritually structured set of practices cannot be found in the earlier writings of the lineage. In particularly, in Jigten Sumgön’s own collected writings, the Fivefold Path ist mentioned many times, but never as a ritual path. Instead, the “Fivefold Path” is presented as the fundamental principle of all practices of meditation: Whatever practice one performs, it should always be preceded by (1) the cultivation of the resolve for awakening (bodhicitta), through which (2) one’s body is manifested as the yidam deity, which is the basis for (3) practicing one’s guru in one’s heart or at the crown of one’s head, which culminates in (4) the practice of the mind free from mental activity (mahāmudrā). Finally, the virtuous roots of such practices should always be (5) dedicated for the benefit of the beings.

There is also no fixed yidam deity for this practice, although the manuals focus on Cakrasaṃvara as the main deity. In the early instructions of Jigten Sumgön, this is left open, and in the case where the practitioner does not yet have his own personal deity, Avalokiteśvara is recommended as the yidam deity of the Fivefold Path.

The following brief instruction by Jigten Sumgön is a typical early instruction on the Fivefold Path. There are many such instructions in his collected works, but this one is perhaps the most condensed presentation.

Quintessential Practice of Sūtra and Mantra: Essential Instruction of the Fivefold Path of Mahāmudrā

Generally, the certain cause for attaining perfect buddhahood is the resolve for awakening. Therefore, at all times and in every way, pledge to cultivate the resolve when you practice the root of great waves of virtue, when you get to any practice, and at the beginning of a practice session as follows:

“May all my mothers—the sentient beings who are as limitless as space—have happiness, be free from suffering, and attain the precious, supreme, and perfect awakening. For that purpose I will, until I reach buddhahood, bind body, speech, and mind to virtue. I will, until I die, bind body, speech, and mind to virtue. I will, until the same time tommorrow, bind body, speech, and mind to virtue”—thinking that, practice your body as your cherished deity. If you do not have one, practice my cherished deity, the lord of great compassion, the noble Avalokiteśvara, or any powerful lord whatsoever. Practice the excellent guru in your heart. At the time of death, practice him at the crown of your head, it is said.

Then, look at your own vigilant and clear awareness and “not seeing anything at the time of looking is seeing true reality.” Therefore, dwell in that state without any mental activity.

If your mind begins to stir again with high and low thoughts, transform your going, standing, lying, sitting, or any other conduct, so that through practice it becomes uninterrupted virtuous practice, the essence of being without thoughts, and the spontaneously accomplished nature. Then maintain that without interruption.

After you have produced the root of virtue or dwelled in meditative equipoise in the practice, recollect from time to time the root of virtue that has been accumulated by yourself and all sentient beings in the three times and the virtue that is existent [in the buddha nature of all beings]:

“May through this virtue that has been accumulated by myself and all sentient beings in the three times and that is existent I and all sentient beings quickly attain the precious, supreme, and perfect awakening.” Thereby the root of virtue is to be dedicated.

It is very important that you practice at all times uninterruptedly in that manner, guard the precious approximation vow1, and whichever lay vows from among the four roots you are able to maintain. Accordingly, the Exalted One said: “If you do not guard at least one rule, you are not part of my retinue.” Thus, knowing that all activities are without purpose if you do not belong to the retinue of our teacher, make efforts to guard disciplined conduct! This is complete.

1 “Approximation vows” (bsnyen gnas kyi sdom pa, Skt. upavasasaṃvara) are vows where lay persons practice the first four vows of ordination, relinquish alcohol, fancy clothing, jewelry, and high seats, and also cease taking meals after noon for one day to approximate the vows of ordination.

Der “Fünffache Pfad der Mahāmudrā”, wie wir ihn heute kennen, wurde hauptsächlich von Kunga Rinchen (1475-1527) geprägt, dessen Praxishandbuch “Girlande der Mahāmudrā” von Khenchen Könchog Gyaltsen übersetzt wurde, und von Rigdzin Chökyi Dragpas Schüler Könchog Trinlé Namgyal (17. Jh.), der die mündlichen Anweisungen seines Lehrers im “Dharmakīrti Zhalung” niederschrieb. Diese Handbücher präsentieren den Fünffachen Pfad als eine vollständig ritualisierte Form der Praxis mit aufeinanderfolgenden Stufen, beginnend mit einer vorbereitenden Praxis (Ngöndro) und individuellen Ritualen für die Praxis von Bodhicitta, Yidam-Gottheit, Guru-Yoga, Mahāmudrā und Widmung.

Aber eine solche rituell strukturierte Reihe von Praktiken ist in den früheren Schriften der Linie nicht zu finden. Insbesondere in Jigten Sumgöns eigenen Gesammelten Werken wird der Fünffache Pfad viele Male erwähnt, aber nie als ritueller Pfad. Stattdessen wird der “Fünffache Pfad” als das grundlegende Prinzip aller Meditationspraktiken dargestellt: Welche Praxis man auch immer ausführt, man sollte immer (1) die Kultivierung des Entschlusses zum Erwachen (bodhicitta) vorausgehen lassen, wodurch (2) der eigene Körper als Yidam-Gottheit manifestiert wird, was die Grundlage für (3) die Praxis des Gurus im Herzen oder auf der Kroe des Kopfes ist, was wiederum in (4) der Praxis des von geistiger Aktivität freien Geistes (mahāmudrā) gipfelt. Schließlich sollten die heilsamen Wurzeln solcher Praktiken immer (5) zum Nutzen der Wesen gewidmet werden.

Es gibt auch keine feste Yidam-Gottheit für diese Praxis, obwohl in den Handbüchern Cakrasaṃvara als Hauptgottheit genannt wird. In den frühen Unterweisungen von Jigten Sumgön wird dies offen gelassen, und für den Fall, dass der Praktizierende noch keine eigene persönliche Gottheit hat, wird Avalokiteśvara als Yidam-Gottheit des Fünffachen Pfades empfohlen.

Die folgende kurze Unterweisung von Jigten Sumgön ist eine typische frühe Unterweisung zum Fünffachen Pfad. Es gibt viele solcher Unterweisungen in seinen gesammelten Werken, aber diese hier ist vielleicht die komprimierteste Darstellung.

Quintessenz der Praxis von Sūtra und Mantra: Die Wesentliche Unterweisung des Fünffachen Pfades der Mahāmudrā

Im Allgemeinen ist die sichere Ursache für das Erreichen der vollkommenen Buddhaschaft der Entschluss zu Erwachen. Gelobe daher zu jeder Zeit und auf jede Weise wie folgt den Entschluss hervorzubrigen wenn du die Wurzel der großen Wellen des Heilsamen praktizierst, wenn du irgendeine Praxis übst, und zu Beginn einer jeden Praxissitzung:

“Mögen alle meine Mütter — die fühlenden Wesen, die so grenzenlos wie der Raum sind — Glück besitzen, frei von Leiden sein und das kostbare, höchste und vollkommene Erwachen erlangen; zu diesem Zweck werde ich, bis ich die Buddhaschaft erreicht habe, Körper, Rede und Geist an das Heilsame binden; ich werde, bis ich sterbe, Körper, Rede und Geist an das Heilsame binden; und ich werde, bis zur gleichen Zeit morgen, Körper, Rede und Geist an das Heilsame binden”—wenn du das denkst, übe deinen Körper als die Gottheit, die du am meißten schätzt. Wenn du keine solche Gottheit hast, praktiziere meine geschätzte Gottheit, den Herrn des großen Mitgefühls, den edlen Avalokiteśvara, oder irgendeinen anderen mächtigen Herrn. Praktiziere den ausgezeichneten Guru in deinem Herzen. Zur Zeit des Todes praktiziere ihn auf dem Scheitel deines Kopfes, so heißt es.

Dann schaue auf dein eigenes waches und klares Gewahrsein und “nichts zu sehen zum Zeitpunkt des Betrachtens ist das Sehen der wahren Wirklichkeit.” Verweile also in diesem Zustand ohne jegliche geistige Aktivität.

Wenn dein Geist wieder beginnt, sich mit hohen und niedrigen Gedanken zu bewegen, wandele dein Gehen, Stehen, Liegen, Sitzen oder jedes andere Verhalten so um, dass es durch die Praxis zu einer ununterbrochenen heilsamen Praxis wird, die Essenz des ohne Gedanken Seins und die spontan vollendete Natur. Dann halte dies ohne Unterbrechung aufrecht.

Nachdem du die Wurzel des Heilsamen hervorgebracht oder in der meditativen Ausgeglichenheit deiner Erfahrung verweilt hast, rufe dir von Zeit zu Zeit die Wurzel des Heilsamen, das von dir und allen fühlenden Wesen in den drei Zeiten angesammelt wurde, und des Heilsamen, das [in der Buddhanatur aller Wesen] vorhanden ist, ins Gedächtnis:

“Mögen ich und alle fühlenden Wesen durch dieses Heilsame, das von mir und allen fühlenden Wesen in den drei Zeiten angesammelt worden ist und das [in der Buddhanatur der Wesen] existent ist, schnell das kostbare, höchste und vollkommene Erwachen erlangen.” So ist die Wurzel des Heilsamen zu widmen.

Es ist sehr wichtig, dass man zu allen Zeiten ununterbrochen auf diese Weise praktiziert, das kostbare Annäherungsgelübde1 bewahrt und je nach Fähigkeit eines oder mehrere der vier Wurzelgelübde aufrecht erhält. Dementsprechend sagte der Erhabene: “Wenn du nicht mindestens eine Regel bewahrst, gehörst du nicht zu meinem Gefolge.” Da ihr also wisst, dass alle Betätigungen zwecklos sind, wenn ihr nicht zum Gefolge unseres Lehrers gehört, bemüht euch, diszipliniertes Verhalten zu bewahren! Dies ist vollständig.

1 “Annäherungsgelübde” (bsnyen gnas kyi sdom pa, Skt. upavasasaṃvara), sind die Gelübde, bei denen Laien für einen Tag die ersten vier Gelübde der Ordination praktizieren, auf Alkohol, besondere Kleidung, Schmuck und hohe Sitze verzichten und auch die Einnahme von Mahlzeiten nach dem Mittag einstellen, um sich den Gelübden der Ordination anzunähern.

Collected Works of Jigten Sumgon, vol. 3, p. 67‒70.

མདོ་སྔགས་ཉམས་ལེན་གྱི་ཉིང་ཁུ་ཕྱག་ཆེན་ལྔ་ལྡན་གྱི་ཁྲིད་སྙིང་བསྡུས༎ བླ་མ་དམ་པ་རྣམས་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ། །སྤྱིར་རྫོགས་པའི་སངས་རྒྱས་ཐོབ་པར་བྱེད་པའི་རྒྱུ་ངེས་པ་བྱང་ཆུབ་ཀྱི་སེམས་ཡིན་པས། དུས་དང་རྣམ་པ་ཐམས་ཅད་དང་། རླབས་པོ་ཆེའི་དགེ་བའི་རྩ་བ་བྱེད་པ་དང་། ཉམས་ལེན་གང་དུ་བསྣུན་པའི་དུས་དང་བསྒོམས་པའི་ཐུན་འགོ་ལ། སེམས་བསྐྱེད་པའི་དམ་བཅའ་འདི་ལྟར་བྱ་སྟེ། མ་ནམ་མཁའ་དང་མཉམ་པའི་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་བདེ་བ་དང་ལྡན། སྡུག་བསྔལ་དང་བྲལ། བླ་ན་མེད་པ་ཡང་དག་པར་རྫོགས་པའི་བྱང་ཆུབ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཐོབ་པར་བྱ། དེའི་ཆེད་དུ་སངས་མ་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་བར་དུ་ལུས་ངག་ཡིད་གསུམ་དགེ་བ་ལ་བཀོལ། མ་ཤིའི་བར་དུ་ལུས་ངག་ཡིད་གསུམ་དགེ་བ་ལ་བཀོལ། དུས་དེ་རིང་ནས་བཟུང་ནས་ཉི་མ་སང་ད་ཙམ་གྱི་བར་དུ་ལུས་ངག་ཡིད་གསུམ་དགེ་བ་ལ་བཀོལ་སྙམ་དུ་བསམས་ལ། རང་གི་ལུས་ཡི་དམ་གྱི་ལྷར་བསྒོམ། མེད་ན་ངའི་ཡི་དམ་གྱི་ལྷ། ཇོ་བོ་ཐུགས་རྗེ་ཆེན་པོ་རྗེ་བཙུན་སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་དབང་ཕྱུག་གང་ཡང་རུང་བ་ཞིག་ཏུ་བསྒོམ། བླ་མ་དམ་པ་ཐུགས་ཀར་བསྒོམ། ནམ་འཆི་བའི་དུས་སུ་ནི་སྤྱི་བོར་བསྒོམ་པ་ཡིན་གསུངས། དེ་ནས་རང་གི་རིག་པ་རིག་རིག་ཏུར་ཏུར་པོ་འདི་ལ་བལྟས་ལ། བལྟས་པའི་དུས་སུ་གང་ཡང་མ་མཐོང་བ་དེ་ཁོ་ན་ཉིད་མཐོང་བའོ་ཞེས་པས། དེའི་ངང་ལ་ཅི་ཡང་ཡིད་ལ་མི་བྱེད་པར་བཞག། རྣམ་པར་རྟོག་པ་མཐོ་དམན་གྱིས་སེམས་རྣམ་པར་གཡེངས་ན། འགྲོ་འཆག་ཉལ་འདུག་གམ། སྤྱོད་ལམ་བསྒྱུར་ནས་བསྒོམས་པས་རྒྱུན་ཆད་མེད་པའི་དགེ་སྦྱོར། རྣམ་རྟོག་མེད་པའི་ངོ་བོ། ལྷུན་གྱིས་གྲུབ་པའི་རང་བཞིན་དུ་འོང་བ་ཡིན་པས། དེ་རྒྱུན་ཆད་མེད་པར་བསྐྱང་། དགེ་བའི་རྩ་བ་བྱས་པའི་རྗེས་སམ། ཐུགས་དམ་ལ་མཉམ་པར་བཞག་པའི་རྗེས་ལ། སྐབས་སྐབས་སུ་བདག་དང་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱིས་དུས་གསུམ་དུ་བསགས་ཤིང་ཡོད་པའི་དགེ་བའི་རྩ་བ་དྲན་པར་བྱས། བདག་དང་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་ཀྱིs་དུས་གསུམ་དུ་བསགས་ཤིང་ཡོད་པའི་དགེ་བའི་རྩ་བ་འདིས། བདག་དང་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་མྱུར་དུ་བླ་ན་མེད་པར་ཡང་དག་པར་རྫོགས་པའི་བྱང་ཆུབ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་ཐོབ་པར་གྱུར་ཅིག་ཅེས། དགེ་བའི་རྩ་བ་བསྔོ་བར་བྱའོ། །དུས་རྒྱུན་ཆད་མེད་པར་ཚུལ་དེ་ལྟར་ཉམས་སུ་བླང་ཞིང་། བསྙེན་གནས་ཀྱི་སྡོམ་པ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་བསྲུང་བ་དང་། རྩ་བ་བཞི་ལས་གང་ཐུབ་ཐུབ་ཀྱི་དགེ་བསྙེན་གྱི་སྡོམ་པ་སྲུང་བ་གལ་ཆེ་སྟེ། དེ་ལྟར་ཡང་བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་ཀྱིས། ཁྲིམས་གཅིག་ཙམ་ཡང་མི་བསྲུང་ན་ངའི་འཁོར་དུ་མ་གཏོགས་སོ། །ཞེས་གསུངས་པས་སྟོན་པའི་འཁོར་དུ་མ་གཏོགས་ན་བྱས་པ་ཐམས་ཅད་དོན་མེད་པར་ཤེས་པར་བྱས་ནས། ཚུལ་ཁྲིམས་བསྲུང་བ་ལ་འབད་པར་བྱའོ། །རྫོགས་སོ༎་༎

by Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon

I pay homage to the excellent gurus!

This mahāmudrā of the great master Saraha has four topics:

  1. Relax body and mind.
  2. Do not engage mental objects.
  3. Do not set up any support whatsoever.
  4. Release the mind in its natural state.

About the first, i.e., to relax body and mind, the great Ācārya Brahmin said: “There is no doubt that this mind that is bound with a knot will be freed when it is relaxed.” Therefore, you must relax body and mind.

About the second, i.e., not to engage in mental objects, [he said]: “Non-mentation is the body of the great seal (mahāmudrākāya). Yogi, have no hope for any results!” Therefore, rest without maintaining in your mind any notion of good or bad thoughts whatsoever.

Concerning the third, i.e., not setting up any support whatsoever: Rest without making channels, winds, vital essences, and whatever else your support.

Concerning the fourth, i.e., resting the mind in its natural state: Just rest in the natural state, without any activities and exertions whatsoever.

That concludes the great ācārya, the brahmin Saraha’s “Mahāmudrā Thunderbolt.”

Collected Works of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon, vol. 2, p. 426 f.


བླ་མ་དམ་པ་རྣམས་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ།། སློབ་དཔོན་ཆེན་པོ་ས་ར་ཧའི་ཕྱག་རྒྱ་ཆེན་པོ་འདི་ལ་དོན་བཞི་སྟེ། དང་པོར་ལུས་སེམས་ཁོང་གློད།་གཉིས་པ་ཡིད་ཀྱི་ཡུལ་དུ་མི་བྱ། གསུམ་པ་རྟེན་གང་ཡང་མི་བཅའ།་བཞི་པ་སེམས་རང་སོར་གློད། དེ་ལ་དང་པོ་ལུས་སེམས་ཁོང་གློད་པ་ནི། སློབ་དཔོན་བྲམ་ཟེ་ཆེན་པོའི་ཞལ་སྔ་ནས།། འཇུར་བུས་བཅིངས་པའི་སེམས་འདི་ནི།། གློད་ན་གྲོལ་བར་ཐེ་ཚོམ་མེད།། ཅེས་པས། ལུས་སེམས་ཁོང་གློད་པར་བྱའོ།། གཉིས་པ་ཡིད་ཀྱི་ཡུལ་དུ་མི་བྱ་བ་ཡང་།། ཡིད་ལ་མི་བྱེད་ཕྱག་རྒྱ་ཆེན་པོའི་སྐུ།། འབྲས་བུ་གང་ལ་ཡང་རེ་བར་མ་བྱེད་རྣལ་འབྱོར་པ།། ཞེས་པས།་བཟང་ངན་གྱི་རྣམ་པར་རྟོག་པ་གང་ཡང་ཡིད་ལ་མི་བྱ་བར་བཞག་པའོ།། གསུམ་པ་རྟེན་གང་ལ་ཡང་མི་བཅའ་བ་ནི། རྩ་དང་རླུང་དང་ཐིག་ལེ་ལ་སོགས་པ་གང་ལ་ཡང་རྟེན་མི་བཅའ་བར་བཞག་པའོ།། བཞི་པ་རང་སོར་བཞག་པ་ནི། བྱ་བྱེད་དང་རྩོལ་སྒྲུབ་ཐམས་ཅད་དང་བྲལ་བར་རང་སོ་ཁོ་ནར་བཞག་པ་ཉིད་དོ།། སློབ་དཔོན་ཆེན་པོ་བྲམ་ཟེ་ས་ར་ཧའི་ཕྱག་རྒྱ་ཆེན་པོ་ཐོག་བབས་རྫོགས་སོ༎ ༎

Tilopa’s famous Gangama Mahamudra‒according to tradition taught by Tilopa to Naropa at the banks of the River Ganges and later transmitted to Marpa Lotsawa‒has been translated before, e.g., by Trungpa, Tiso and Torricelli, Brunnhölzl, and Khenpo Thampel.

Why now another translation? The answer is: because we have different texts.

More then a decade ago I started collecting manuscript editions of the Gangama, that is, text editions that were written by hand and transmitted outside of the “official” canon (i.e., the Tibetan Tangyur). I soon noticed that these paracanonical manuscripts contained a text that differed in many ways from the canonical version of the Peking, Derge, Narthang, and Cone Tangyur editions of the same text.

The greatest surprise for me was to discover the vast extent of structural intervention undertaken by the redactors of the canon. The paracanonical (manuscript) versions are structured as follows (numbers refer to the lines of the Tibetan text):

1‒4: advice to listen
5‒29: introduction to the nature of the mind through the examples of space, clouds, and the sun
30: view
31: conduct
32‒37: meditative practice
38‒47: pledges
48‒52: benefits of practicing this path
53‒55: defects of not practicing like that
56‒59: practice of relying on the guru and renunciation
60‒66: ascertaining the result of view, meditation, and conduct
67‒79: abandoning distractions in the solitude
79‒86: benefits of such practice
87‒100: practice of the individuals of highest capacity
101‒104: types of individuals
105‒113: practice of the individuals of lower capacities
114‒118: results and qualities

One of the key features of this structure is that the text directly introduces with 25 lines the nature of the mind. The key feature of the structure of the canonical version as found in the Tangyur, on the other hand, is that the text teaches first a gradual teaching of 28 lines before it offers an introduction to the nature of the mind. The redactors of the canon thus have changed the very nature of the text, turning this teaching of the Indian Siddha tradition into a mainstream “gradual path” type of teaching (lam rim).

Secondly, the paracanonical manuscript tradition presents the Gangama as a text with irregular numbers of syllables per line, generally nine or eleven, but occasionally also seven and thirteen. This allows for a natural expression as we find it in many instructional texts on mahamudra, such as the poetical and spontaneous songs of the mahasiddhas and also in many of Jigten Sumgön’s songs and instructions. The editors of the Tangyur, on the other hand, have changed this into a uniform pattern of nine syllable verses with mostly four lines, thereby streamlining it to fit the style of other versified teachings.

The text that I present here as the main text is taken from the Oral Transmission of Cakrasamvara and the Oral Transmission of the Dakini, both edited and arranged by the great Drukpa Kagyü master Padma Karpo (1527‒1592). According to the tradition, these teachings were received by Tilopa directly from the Dakinis when he was staying in Uddiyana. Tilopa transmitted them to Naropa and the latter to his Tibetan disciple Marpa Lotsawa, who passed them on to Milarepa. At this point, there is some confusion that was recently cleared up in an article by Marta Sernesi (2011). According to her, people have confused this oral transmission (or, as she calls it, aural since that is closer to the meaning of the Tibetan word snyan, “ear”) with the Nine Instructions of the Formless Dakini. The story of Milarepa receiving only five of these instructions from Marpa and sending his disciple Rechungpa to India to bring back the remaining four has actually nothing to do with the transmission of the Oral Transmission of Cakrasamvara (or the Oral Transmission of the Dakini, which are alternative terms) itself since the Nine Instructions are only supplemental teachings to the actual Oral Transmissions. Larsson (2012: 86) and Quintman (2014: 41) still repeat the mistake, and this shows once again how dangerous it is to take such legends at face value. In truth, in the writings of the Oral Transmission, it is clear that the transmission from Marpa to Mila has been complete.

Sernesi also points out that the Oral Transmission of Cakrasamvara or the Dakini are (alternative) names for the teaching, and the Oral Transmission of Rechung and Oral Transmission of Ngendzong, who was the other cotton clad yogi to receive the transmission from Mila, are names for particular lineages in which the instructions were transmitted. There also appears to be a further lineage through Gampopa and Phagmodrupa (Larsson 2012: 88), the Oral Transmission of Dakpo, possibly with abridged or essential instructions (Sernesi 2011: 180, n. 2).

The Oral Transmission of Cakrasamvara contains teachings by Vajradhara, Vajrayogini and other Dakinis, Tilopa, Naropa and other Indian masters, as well as by Marpa, Milarepa, and later disciples. According to Padma Karpo’s introduction and catalog of the Oral Transmission of the Dakini (mKha’ ’gro snynan brgyud kyi dpe tho, Torricelli 2000: 361), the Gangama Mahamudra is the first text of the collection (as arranged by him), and it is its essential instruction.

Of the already existing translations of the Gangama, Trungpa Rinpoche’s and Tiso and Torricelli’s are made from the canonical version of the Tangyur. Brunnhölzl’s translation is based on a paracanonical transmission as it appears in the 5th Shamarpas’s commentary. Within the paracanonical transmission, I observed two groups with the Shamarpa’s and the rGya gzhung manuscripts on the one side and the Oral Transmissions on the other (this is described in the introduction to my edition). The Shamarpa’s commentary and Brunnhölzl’s translation show some particular features that I pointed out in the introduction to my translation of the Oral Tradition manuscripts. The commentary of H.H. Drikung Kyabgön Chetsang Rinpoche is based on my edition of ten paracanonical and four canonical editions. Khenpo Thampel’s translation of the root text, however, seems to be based on a canonical version.

My translation and the accompanying edition are not supposed to present a definitive edition or translation of the Gangama. I aim above all to document the hitherto neglected Oral Transmission and to make the many interesting variant readings of the different manuscript families visible.

You can download my translation and edition in the downloads section in the lower part of the right column of your screen: “Tilopa: Gangama Mahamudra (Translation)” and “Tilopa: Gangama Mahamudra (Edition of Tib. text).” Enjoy!


For bibliographical references to the other translations, see my translation of the Oral Tradition.

Larsson, Stefan (2012) Crazy for Wisdom: The Making of a Mad Yogin in Fifteenth-Century Tibet, Leiden: Brill.

Sernesi, Marta (2011) “The Aural Transmission of Samvara: An Introduction to Neglected Sources for the Study of Early Bka’ brgyud,” Mahamudra and the Bka’ brgyud Tradition, Andiast: International Institute for Tibetan and Buddhist Studies.

Torricelli, Fabrizio (2000) “Padma dkar-po’s Arrangement of the ‘bDe-mchog snyan-brgyud,’ East and West, 50(1/4), 359-386.

Quintman, Andrew (2014) The Yogin and the Madman: Reading the Biographical Corpus of Tibet’s Great Saint Milarepa, New York: Columbia University Press.

In one of the public teachings recorded by Sherab Jungné, Jigten Sumgön quoted the Buddha, saying:♦ 1

Do not cultivate a bad thought even about a burnt stump,
and, because desire cannot be satisfied, abandon sense pleasures!

These two lines summarize all the Buddha’s teachings about “the thing-to-be-abandoned,” namely aversion and attachment. Similar statements can be found in the Vinaya and many sūtras such as the Vinayakṣudrakavastu:♦ 2

If one should not have bad thoughts even about a burnt stump, there is no need to mention a body endowed with consciousness! Monks, train yourself like that!

The Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra too says:♦ 3

Monks, do not cultivate a bad thought even about a burnt stump! Why? All sentient beings fall into the hell of beings due to their cultivation of bad thoughts!

Moreover, the Saddharmasmṛtyupasthāna says:♦ 4

Those who crave will not be satisfied by desire
like fire not by firewood
and the ocean not by rivers.
Therefore, desire cannot be soothed.

We usually categorize such statements as the Buddha’s teaching on disciplined conduct (Skt. śīla). In the Single Intention teachings of Jigten Sumgön, however, an instruction like “do not cultivate a bad thought even about a burnt stump” also has other and, perhaps, unexpected dimensions.

In his teachings on the 37 Bodhisattva Trainings, Garchen Rinpoche, too, often reminds us in the context of training five, which teaches us to avoid bad friends, that it is one thing to stay away from people who destroy our love and compassion when our spiritual capacity is low, but quite another to see faults in the spiritual teacher when we want to practice the Dharma.♦ 5 Moreover, in the context of Mahāmudrā teachings, he often says that we must view all lamas as buddhas. “When you see a fault in the lama, that is only your own fault!”

This instruction goes back to a teaching in the Single Intention, where Jigten Sumgön’s commentator, Dorjé Sherab, says that oneʼs supreme, medium, or lower accumulation of merit determines the guruʼs good, medium, or inferior qualities. If one perceives a guru who is lacking characteristics, that is only due to oneʼs inferior roots of virtue. Thus, qualities cannot arise if the guru lacks qualities since that is a sign of oneʼs own lack of accumulations.

Due to the lack of accumulations, we do not perceive our world as a pure land and its beings, including ourself, as buddhas and bodhisattvas. Therefore, we have to gather merit, and this is not done by seeing faults, but by perceiving qualities, even in inferior spiritual friends. Dorjé Sherab quotes Jigten Sumgön:

We do not follow the opinion that a contamination arises through devotion to an inferior guru. We do not follow the opinion that harm arises from making offerings to such a guru. And we also do not follow the opinion that looking at the bad as something good is a wrong view.

In other words, by perceiving good qualities even in inferior spiritual friends, no harm arises. One may not develop the qualities in his presence, but that devotion, through which the pledges remain intact, will be the cause for meeting a perfect guru in whose presence the qualities arise without impediment. That is also Garchen Rinpoche’s instruction for disciples who want to practice Mahāmudrā.

There is also a further dimension with regard to the instruction not to cultivate a bad thought even about a burnt stump. It is also connected to the Mahāmudrā instructions found in the Single Intention (vajra statement 6.13): “That Mahāmudrā and disciplined conduct (śīla) are one is an unsurpassed special teaching of Jigten Sumgön.” There are several reasons provided in the commentaries why Mahāmudrā and disciplined conduct are one, but here I want to focus only on one, namely that in both teachings—Mahāmudrā and disciplined conduct—one is advised not to cultivate a bad thought even about a burnt stump.

Generally, Mahāmudrā and disciplined conduct are both practiced to obtain liberation. To obtain liberation, the grasping of the self must be abandoned. How is the self being grasped? It is constantly grasped through our conceptions of aversion and attachment. Therefore, both Mahāmudrā and disciplined conduct abandon the conceptions of aversion and attachment. Someone who cultivates bad thoughts even towards a burnt stump and who has the hopes that his actions of desire will satisfy his desire can neither be successful in the practice of Mahāmudrā nor of disciplined conduct.

Most importantly, however, when the Mahāmudrā trainee, having mastered calm abiding and superior insight, trains to realize all stirrings of the mind as dharmakāya, whatever thought arises is watched in its essence without following after it. “Without following after it” refers to any subsequent thought activity or any other activity of body and speech that engages in the manner of aversion or attachment because one hopes to destroy the object of aversion or satisfy one’s desire. To stay clear from that is “not to cultivate a bad thought even about a burnt stump” and to “abandon sense pleasures” on the level of Mahāmudrā.

*   *   *

I would like to add a few personal thoughts. To say like Dorjé Sherab that “oneʼs supreme, medium, or lower accumulation of merit determines the guruʼs good, medium, or inferior qualities” should not be misconstrued as a free ticket for teachers to abuse students. At this time, when some spiritual teachers have caused scandals in the West by sexually or otherwise abusing their students, we need to be very clear of what is possible and what not.

Both Jigten Sumgön and his guru Phagmodrupa have strongly repudiated the possibility of sexual relations between teacher and student. It has never been Jigten Sumgön’s intention to make the disciple responsible for sexual (or any other) assaults by the teacher in the sense that the disciple would have an impure view if he or she perceives the guru’s conduct as sexual abuse. There is no place for sex in the guru-disciple relation. Abuse should be made public and not be hidden under the blanket of “pure view.”

When Dorjé Sherab points out the correlation between seeing faults in others (including the teacher) and one’s own lack of qualities, this has in mind that we generally lack the ability to see qualities and focus instead on the faults of others. We tend to divide the world into good and bad, friend and foe, Buddhist and not Buddhist. In that way, we are focusing on other people’s faults instead of learning from their qualities. We are strengthening the notion of “I” and “others.” Moreover, we are robbing ourselves of the possibility to learn from others, no matter who they are. Jigten Sumgön says in the Single Intention (1.19): “We maintain that there exists much that is virtuous by its fundamental nature to be practiced in the systems of the Non-Buddhists too.” Are we not encouraged to see the quality of loving kindness even in animals?

Thus, when we see faults in others, but not their qualities, that is a sure sign that we lack wisdom. By condemning others (including teachers) for their faults, we deepen our tendency to only see faults in others and to overlook their qualities. With such a deepened tendency, we are reinforcing attachment and aversion and the grasping of a self, and we make it less likely to create in the future the conditions for meeting a perfect teacher.

But, again, that does not mean that we should not protect ourselves and others from abuse. To protect ourselves and others, we should speak up when we see abuse, but we should not do that with an attitude of self-righteousness and hatred, but out of love and compassion. Then, nothing can go wrong.

1. [] Collected Works, vol. 12, p. 251: de bas sdong dum mes tshig la’ang // ngan sems bskyed par mi bya zhing // ‘dod la ngoms pa yod med pas// de bas ‘dod yon spang bar gsungs//

2. []Vinayakṣudrakavastu, vol. 10, fol. 95r: gang mgal dum la yang ngan sems mi bya na rnam par shes pa dang bcas pa’i lus la lta smos kyang ci dgos/ dge slong dag khyed kyis de lta bur bslab par bya’o//

3. []Mahāparinirvāṇasūtra, D vol. 52, fol. 256r: dge slong dag mgal dum la yang ngan sems ma skyed cig /de ci’i phyir zhe na/ sems can thams cad ni ngan sems bskyed pa’i rgyus sems can dmyal bar ltung bar ‘gyur ro zhes gsungs so//

4. []Saddharmasmṛtyupasthāna, D vol. 71, fol. 205v: me la bud shing rnams dang ni// rgya mtsho la ni chu bo ltar// sred ldan ‘dod pas ngoms pa med// de phyir ‘dod pa zhi ba min//

5. []I thank Ven. Yeshe Metog for allowing me to read her translation of Garchchen Rinpoche’s teachings on the 37 Bodhisattva Trainings.

Buddhism certainly presents itself as a metaphor: the Awakend One, the assemblage (samgha), the path, the vehicle, and so forth. Quite a number of very old metaphors are agricultural: root of merit, karmic seed, fruit to be obtained, field of merit (and later: Buddha fields), and refuge tree. Some metaphors appear to be intercultural and interreligious, for instance colours: white merit is virtuous, black is non-virtuous. Or spatial metaphors: upwards is positive, downwards is negative. Knowledge, wisdom and understanding are interculturally represented by light, ignorance as darkness. Probably through the notion of an increased visibility in luminosity, understanding is metaphorically expressed as “seeing,” not understanding as “blindness.” Some metaphors are very productive. They produce many more metaphors that produce whole clusters of metaphors, like the above cluster of agricultural metaphors, or like the metaphor of space, which is the basis for the metaphorical field containing metaphors like upwards and downwards, lack of hindrance (= succes), or pervasion (= understanding, compassion, wealth, etc.).

With this knowledge in mind, how much deeper is our understanding of Jigten Sumgön’s opening words of his Simultaneously Arising Mahamudra (Phyag rgya chen po lhan cig skyes sbyor gyi ngo sprod):

I bow down to the Gurus, who remove the darkness of ignorance of beings by pervading the sphere of the unborn pure space of true reality with a thousand lights of unhindered compassion.

From early on, the Buddha himself has created numerous similes on the basis of metaphors. The website Access to Insight lists ca. 250 such similies that occur in their translations of Pali sutras. A recent Thai Buddhist master has similarly collected 108 similes.♦ 1 There is for instance a story in an old Pali sutra (SN 35.206) where several different kinds of animals are bound togther by a rope. Each animal pulls into a different direction. This is a simile that shows how the thoughts of the mind contest for dominance. The simile builds on the metaphor of thoughts being wild animals. In this way, the figurative language of metaphors and similes was used throughout the history of Buddhism as a hermeneutical tool to explicate the doctrine.

From very early on, Buddhist philosophers and commentators have understood the power of figurative language and described its elements and functions. In a metaphor, they explained, the metaphorical term (e.g., “lotus born”) indirectly refers to a concept (e.g., “purity”). Thus, when someone says “I take refuge in the Buddha,” both “refuge” and “Buddha” are metaphors — we are not literally trying to hide behind the broad shoulders of Shakyamuni. Such figurative speech opens up a world of interpretation and understanding. The Drikungpa master Garchen Rinpoche, for instance, would explain that what we seek is not the person Siddharta Gautama, but his awakening to the true nature of the mind, which we ourselves cannot get from him, but only find in ourselves. “Going for refuge in the Buddha” is according to him a metaphor for searching for the nature of one’s own mind within oneself.

Such a deep penetration of the language of the sutras and other scriptues is on the one hand possible through the experience of a teacher like Garchen Rinpoche. But it has also been made possible through the forerunners of mahamudra yogis, the philosophers of Yogacara Buddhism. Beginning from the 3rd century they have developed a theory of language according to which not only metaphors, but actually all language is figurative: If all phenomena to which language refers are only appearances of the mind, the words that refer to such phenomena do not have a direct referent, since that referent does not exist as it appears.♦ 2 This understanding, namely that words can never refer directly to any real object, has also led them to proclaim that the ultimate truth is, therefore, actually inexpressible and completey beyond language. Paradoxically, however, it is just this figurative language that best illustrates this inexpressibility. Consider these words of the Great Brahmin Saraha (quoted in the above mentioned mahamudra instruction of Jigten Sumgön):♦ 3

If you dedicate yourself wholeheartedly to the authoritative [instructions] of the guru and strive respectfully,
there is no doubt that the simultaneously arisen will come forth.
Since it is without color, attributes, words or illustrations,
unable to express it, I will try a rough illustration:
Like a young girls joy in her heart,
Holy Lord, whom could it be told?

Apart from that, it is certainly important to keep in mind that the language of Buddhist texts, be it technical or metaphorical, refers to phenomena that do not exist as they appear. As Garchen Rinpoche pointed out in his teachings this week in Munich, all the words of the texts, however skillfully expressed, are of no particular value if the reality that is expressed at best indirectly by them is not directly experienced in meditation.


1. and

2. See the new study A Yogācāra Buddhist Theory of Metaphor by Roy Tzohar, Oxford University Press, 2018.

3. Another version is recorded by Kurtis Schaeffer, Dreaming the Great Brahmin, Oxford University Press, p. 154: Free of color, quality, words, and examples,// It cannot be spoken, and in vain I point it out.// Like the bliss of a young woman, desirous for love,// Who can teach its noble power to whom?//

[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.