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Books > Buddhist > Mahayana > Mahamudra The Moonlight Quintessence of Mind and Meditation
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Mahamudra The Moonlight Quintessence of Mind and Meditation
Mahamudra The Moonlight Quintessence of Mind and Meditation
Description

From the Book

Mahamudra is the first English translation of a major Tibetan Buddhist presentation of the theory and practice of meditation—a manual detailing the various stages and practices for training the advanced student. The original Tibetan text of nearly 800 pages was composed by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal (1511-1587), a great lama and a scholar of the sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

His text is so vast and thorough in scope that it is still the primary- source used by living Tibetan meditation masters in instructing their disciples. The many levels of meditation covered include the following: the differentiation between stages of tranquility and insight meditation; preparation for mahamudra meditation; the various methods of mahamudra practice; methods for removing obstacles to meditation; how one achieves realization; and the four is yogas of mahamudra.

The first major text representing the meditational methods of both mahayana and vajrayana Buddhism to appear in English. Mahamudra is an invaluable guide for advanced students, scholars, and Buddhist practitioners.

Dakpo Tashi Namgyal (1511-87) school of Tibetan Buddhism who aim trained in the Sakya School. Was renowned as both a scholar and meditator. During his later years he served as chief abbot of Daklha Campo in southern Tibet.

LOBSANG P. LHALUNGPA (1926- ) was born in Lhasa, Tibet. From 1940 until 1952, he was a monk—official in the service of his Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government. He is also the translator of the Life of Milarepa and author of Tibet - the Sacred realm, and his translations of Dharma verses appear in Sacred Traditions and Living Culture. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Back of the Book

 

Mahamudra: The Moonlight
The Quintessence of Mind and Meditation
DAKPO TASHI NAMGYAL

Mahamudra meditation is simultaneously the most profound of meditative disciplines and the most accessible for modern practitioners. Traditionally passed orally from teacher to disciple, mahamudra instructions point the meditator to the innate perfection of every experience.

When it first appeared in 1986, Mahamudra: The Moonlight—The Qnintessence of Mind and Meditation was the first presentation in English of a major Tibetan Buddhist work on meditation. This classic guide was composed in the sixteen century by an eminent lama of the Kagyu School and is so comprehensive and practical that it is still widely used today as a manual. Divided into two major sections, it presents first the common approach and then the mahamudra approach to tranquility (samatha) and insight (vipasyana) meditation.

Preface to the First Edition

Mahamudra: The Quintessence of Mind and Meditation was translated from 1976 to 1977. The finalization was done in stages, from 1981 to 1983, in between my other work. I paid special attention to the careful checking of the entire translation and editorial work, to the preparation of footnotes, to the bibliography of the Sanskrit and Tibetan titles of the Tibetan texts quoted in this treatise, and to the index.

For many years I have devoted myself to the translation of Tibetan literature — both secular and religious — into English, but have delayed publishing my translations of Buddhist texts in order to ensure their complete accuracy. None of us in the tradition has any illusions about being able to achieve the same high standard of writing and translating as that of the learned and enlightened Lama—Lotsavas of ancient Tibet, who translated Buddhist works from many other languages. Besides, the conditions for serious translators are not favorable in these modern times. Yet a series of significant events in my life finally brought about the translation of this great esoteric text.

Since.1959, when many thousands of Tibetans escaped to India and other neighboring countries, I had been asked to translate Buddhist texts by the highest authority within our tradition and by many of my Lamas. In 1969 the late Venerable Dukchen Thuksay Rinpoche, renowned master of the Drukpa Kagyti Order, presented me with a xylographed print of a Tibetan text during an assembly at Sangngak Choling Monastery in Darjeeling (India). While blessing me, Rinpoche, in his gentle voice, said: “This is the most important sacred text! I urge you to translate it." When I opened the book and read the title, I was deeply moved. Here was the Mahamudra text, one of the great Buddhist classics that I had already been studying.

A few years later, His Holiness Karmapa Rigpei Dorje, the Sixteenth Karmapa, presented me with seven great commentaries on the sutric and tantric teachings. He also handed me a certificate bearing his seal that assigned me the task of translating these texts. On the list of titles this Mahamudra text was especially marked for translation.

Finally, during a visit to New York in 1975, Dr. C. T. Shen, president of the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions at Stonybrook, offered me a contract for translating the same Mahamudra text. Dr. Shen also invited the Venerable Dezhung Rinpoche to be adviser for this project. In addition to his generous financial support, Dr. Shen provided us with a lovely, quiet residence on his Long Island estate of Bodhifield. Throughout our two-year stay there, both Dr. and Mrs. Shen extended to us every possible courtesy and assistance. I personally and all of us in the Dharma are indeed deeply indebted to Dr. Shen, especially since his sponsorship represents only one of his many invaluable projects for the advancement of Buddhism. I here also express my deep respect and appreciation to the Venerable Dezhung Rinpoche, a great eclectic Lama and a teacher of the Sakyapa Order, for his advice and explanations of the difficult passages found in this text.

My sincere appreciation and thanks are due to my family for their encouragement and support: to my wife, Gisela Minke, for having enthusiastically and tirelessly typed and checked the English; to my son Samphe Dorje for his invaluable help in editing the first part of the translation; and to my younger son, Nawang Tenzin, for providing me with much practical help.

I wish to acknowledge with deep appreciation the advice and assistance given by a number of individuals: first and foremost my dear friends Mary Ann and Lawrence Tucker, who have consistently encouraged and supported me; my friend Ani Tsering Chodon (Martha Hamilton) for checking and typing the bilingual bibliography of the titles quoted in Mahamudra; the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, Dr. Herbert V. Guenther, and Dr. Garma C. C. Chang for reading my list of Buddhist technical terms in English and Tibetan; and also my friends Gene Smith, Hannah Robinson, Dr. Gloria Count-van Manen, and Elizabeth Dale for having read parts of the translation and for having encouraged me.

My sincere appreciation and thanks also go to the staff of the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions at Stonybrook, Long Island, for making available to me many Tibetan texts and for allowing me to use the facilities of the institute.

I want to express special thanks to those institutions and individuals who have provided me with some of the funds required for the finalization. The major part of this expense and much voluntary assistance came from my own family. I am very grateful to Buddhayana Foundation in Massachusetts, to the Marsden Foundation in New York, and to Mr. Michael Wunmbrand for providing me with part of the funding.

Last but not least, I am very grateful indeed to my publisher, Mr. Samuel Bercholz, of Shambhala, who took a personal interest in this publication.

The xylographed text of Mahamudra used in this translation was printed on handmade Tibetan paper from carved woodblocks that had been preserved at Sri Neuteng of Gyal, in Dingri, western Tibet, until the “cultural revolution.” The folio numbers of this text appear in the left—hand margins of this English translation.

Since this text is an original Tibetan composition and contains numerous terms of distinct Tibetan character, I have included a limited list of Sanskrit equivalents. The Tibetan script (which was adapted from an ancient Indian script) employs many silent letters. The recent practice of literally transcribing Tibetan words seems only to confuse foreign readers. I myself was surprised and amused when I first read my name in English as “bLobzang Phuntshogs.” In this text I have deliberately adhered to the more practical phonetic rendering, which facilitates smooth reading.

Despite my dedicated efforts, there could still be errors and inaccuracies in this translation. If so, I sincerely apologize for these shortcomings. ‘I must confess that in both the translation and in my introduction I have addressed myself mainly to practicing Buddhists and only partly to the general readership. It is my sincere wish that this great text may serve practicing Buddhists as an illuminating guide while conveying the Buddha’s message of universal enlightenment, thus fulfilling the noble goal of the sponsor and of all others directly involved with this effort.

May this translation also be regarded as one of the worthy memorials in honor of over one million Tibetan Buddhists killed in Tibet during the last three decades.

Translator’s Introduction

Mahamudra: The Moonlight — Quintessence of Mind and Meditation represents the advanced doctrine and practice as understood and realized by the Kagyupa Order of Tibetan Buddhism.

The original Tibetan title of this sixteenth-century text is Ngedon chakgya chenpoi gomrim selvarjepai lekshey dawaiozer, which reads literally as “The Perfect Description of Moonlight that Illuminates the Stages of Ultimate Mahamudra [The Great Seal]." The term “Great Seal" (Mahamudra) contains many different meanings. Here it stands for the ultimate nature of mind and reality. Lust as a royal seal wields unchallengeable authority, so the all-encompassing voidness of the ultimate reality prevails upon the cosmic phenomena. It also stands for the path of self-realization, which integrates authentic view, contemplation, and action into one perfect insight.

This extraordinary treatise provides not only a wealth of knowledge but also methods for realizing enlightenment. In writing this work the great Tibetan teacher Tashi Namgyal (1511-1587) made known many of the ancient secret oral teachings and published them as xylographic prints. Among other well-known treatises by the author are The Resplendent Jewel: An Elucidation of the Buddhist Tantra and The Sunlight: An Elucidation of Hevajra-tantra. In the course of his extensive studies and training, Tashi Namgyal studied with some Sakyapa teachers and even acted as the abbot of Nalanda Sakyapa Monastery, north of Lhasa. During his later years he functioned as Gampopa’s regent and as chief abbot of the monastery of Daklha Gampo, in South Tibet.

The Mahamudra is neither a students’ manual nor a self-explanatory book. Like other great Buddhist treatises it is studied under the guidance of a chosen teacher. The need for a tutor becomes apparent when one considers the magnitude of this very esoteric work, the profundity of the subject, its complex structure, its conceptual subtlety, and its technical intricacy. Among the problems untutored students would encounter are a certain (deliberate) vagueness, enigmatic quotations, allusions, and even some apparent contradictions.

This great Tibetan classic, which is widely recognized as an outstanding original work, reveals profound wisdom. The text draws systematically on the vital knowledge and the practical methods of the Buddhist sciences that form the major part of the monastic syllabus. From the sacred law (vinaya) comes the tenet of self-control, the conquest and transformation of the mind. From the essential aspects of logic (pramana) come the methods of determining the nature of reality. From the psychological branch of the sublime doctrine (abhidharma) come the methods of identifying and eliminating the root of self—delusion. From the tenets of the Buddha’s transcendental wisdom (prajnaparamita) come the ways of achieving insight into the universal voidness (sarvadharma-sunyata) as the ultimate state. From the Mahayana system of self-realization comes the essential practice known as (the twin principles of) transcendental wisdom and infinite compassion. From this ideal emanate the psychological methods for reorienting self-centeredness to a definite concern and compassion for others. From the Buddhist tantric doctrine come the methods of transforming inner delusion and its manifestations into aspects of transcendental wisdom. The distinct Mahamudra meditation will then reveal the ways of achieving instantaneous insight into the innate perfection of every perception or thought.

The entire text is divided into two parts. The first part contains the principles and practices of tranquility and insight meditation according to the Hinayana (Little Vehicle) and Mahayana (Great Vehicle) systems. The second part contains the advanced meditational system according to Mahayana followed by the higher system of Mahamudra (the Great Seal).

The intricate structure of this text is divided into many segments, which may appear confusing to those outside the Tibetan tradition, but it does not obscure the textual sequence - or the thematic coherence. The divisions are designed to help teachers explain the text systematically and to enable the students to comprehend the complex doctrine and practice.

The elucidation is written in classical Tibetan prose and is illustrated by innumerable quotations, all drawn from the Buddha’s sutras and tantras, from the exegetical treatises (sastras) of the ancient Buddhist masters, and their mystical poems (dohas).

Before the actual text begins, there is the traditional homage by the author, Tashi Namgyal, to the lineage of the Mahamudra transmission: to his personal guru (unnamed), to the Indestructible Mind (vajramanas), and to the Buddha in his ultimate state (dharmakaya) and in his earthly manifestation (nirmana- kaya). The principal masters duly venerated here are Saraha, Nagarjuna, Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa (all of the Kagyupa order). The author especially honors Gampopa as the second Buddha and the e3xpounder of this unique Mahamudra system.

The text begins with a description of the two distinct insights and approaches originating from the Buddha’s teachings of the sutras and tantras, that is, the common path of gradual self-realization and the uncommon path of instantaneous self-realization. The stages of the Mahamudra meditation embody these two paths systematically and coherently. The fundamental and advanced sutric meditations on tranquility and insight represent the gradual path, while the actual Mahamudra tradition represents the instantaneous path. The sutric meditations on the gradual path form the foundation, while the Mahamudra meditation represents the nonmystical, direct approach. However, Mahamudra meditation does not employ tantric methods per se. even though the Buddhist tantra is looked upon as the rapid path of self-realization, it is generally considered to be an essential element of the gradual path.

The Foundation of Buddhist Studies

I am here incorporating a description of the fundamental religious training required of trainees before they starts the Mahamudra meditation, in order to provide a complete panorama of Tibetan Buddhist practice. Such training generally consists of the study of both the fundamental and advanced sutras and tantras. This can be achieved by taking either a comprehensive or a selective course in such traditional subjects as the moral cannon (vinaya), logic (pramana), the central philosophy (madhyamaka), the science of mind and materiality (abhidharma), and transcendental wisdom (prajnaparamita). Some of the Tibetan orders, such as the Kagyupa, prefer to specify these courses in terms of thirteen main treatises. These texts are studied and tested daily in the form of debates. Individual students alternately take the role of challenger. Each defender is questioned by a number of challengers, one-by-one. Instructors, scholars, and abbots witness the debates, especially during the major and minor public examinations. Among the topics chosen by individuals outside their formal courses inations. Among the topics chosen by individuals outside their formal courses could be Sanskritic semantics, linguistics and philology, the Tibetan poetics and prose composition, astrology astronomy, holistic medicine, arts, architecture, and crafts.

One who cannot devote years to such comprehensive studies might take a condensed course. This could be done by studying either the broad outlines of certain texts or abridged versions of them. for every Buddhist order there is a popular and practical text that explains, in simpler language, the general teachings and which is studied by every meditator, student, and scholar. For the Kagyupa practitioners there is Gampopa’s renowned text The Jewel Ornament of Liberation.

The selective course consists of texts on sutric and tantric doctrines. Here individuals may choose some of the concise doctrinal treatises and meditational guides. Buddhist studies represent a complete process of human and intellectual development as illustrated by the following maxim: “Self-control, wisdom, and compassion are achieved only through listening, examining, and meditating? The test of the training should be an immediate spiritual maturity resulting from the taming of the worldly mind through the elimination of some basic malaise like selfishness, greed, or hatred; a deepening insight into the true reality; and a growing concern for the well-being of others.

In the Buddhist tradition, scholarship is only a means to an end. Buddhism combines rationality and faith, knowledge and inner awakening, as a way to spiritual attainment. Knowledge is acquired through years of Buddhist textual studies and debates, and awakening through consistent meditational practices.

A trainee will begin by seeking the oral transmission of a chosen text from a teacher. This is regarded as a significant event, as the teacher bestows on him the energy—stream of the sacred words, along with the blessings of the lineage, both of which he himself received from his teachers. This empowers the student. For tutorial studies. He will then receive the oral elucidation of the text, which may take weeks or months. There are various forms of explaining the texts: a simple literal explanation (tsigtri), a full explanation (dontri), and an experiential elucidation (nyamtri or martri) based on the teacher’s personal experience. The most important of all is the elucidation on each successive stage, which requires the student to meditate for a period of time and then to relate his experience to the teacher. This leads to regular discussions with the teacher in respect to the practice, its problems, and its progress. All the various orders of Tibetan Buddhism practice these oral transmissions.

This text presupposes that the trainee already has a good understanding of the gradual path to enlightenment as the essential religious foundation.

The Contemplative Foundation

The following will show how the student completes the entire contemplative course according to the tradition of the gradual path. The whole course is divided into three practices for “three types of spiritual aspirants”: primary, average, and advanced. In the course of these practices the student develops a right view, right contemplation, and right actions. These practical principles represent wisdom, tranquility, and discipline. He learns how to harmonize his contemplative experience with his active life- How, for instance, to inspire and invigorate his daily life with contemplative insight and tranquility.

 

CONTENTS

 

  Dedication xix
  Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama xxi
  Preface to the First Edition xxii
  Acknowledgements to the Second Edition xxv
  Translator’s Introduction xxvii
  The Foundation of Buddhist Studies xix
  The Contemplative Foundation xxx
  Tranquility and Insight: The Basic Stage of Mahamudra Meditation xxxiii
  Meditation on Tranquility xxxiv
  The role of mindfulness xxxv
  Timely vigilance xxxvi
  The nine stages of tranquility xxxvi
  Meditation on Insight (into the True Reality) xxxviii
  Mahamudra, the Quintessence of Reality xliv
  The Four Yogas of Mahamudra xlvii
 
MAHAMUDRA
Introduction by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal
 
  Homage 3
  The Resolution to Compose this Work 5
  The Reasons Why the Meditation on the True Nature of Mind Is Essential 6
1 All Realities Are But Mental Phenomena 6
2 The Deficiencies Arising from Not Meditating on the True Nature of Mind 9
3 The Benefits Arising from Meditation 11
 
BOOK ONE
A Concise Elucidation of the Common System of Tranquil Equipoise
13
 
The Outline of Tranquil Equipoise in General and the Removal of Doubts
15
  The Ordinary Meditation of Tranquility and Insight 17
1 The Cause of Tranquility and Insight 17
2 The Elimination of Hindrances to Tranquility and Insight 18
1 The Recognition of Hindrances 19
2 Instructions in the Remedies Necessary to Remove-the Hindrances 21
(1). The general elucidation of remedies for hindrances 21
(2). The specific means for removing dullness and sensual incitement 23
1 Refraining from the causes of dullness and sensual incitement 23
2 The elimination of dullness and sensual incitement 24
3 Identification of the True Nature of Tranquility and insight 26
4 Distinctions of Tranquility and Insight 29
5 Examination of the Stages of Tranquility and Insight 31
6 Meditation on Joint Tranquility and Insight 33
(1) The Reason One Needs Both Tranquility and Insight 33
(2) The Method of Combining These Two 34
7 The Result of Tranquility and Insight 37
 
CHAPTER TWO
The Stages of Tranquility and Insight: Part One, Tranquility
39
1. The Preparation for Achieving Tranquility 39
2. The Elucidation of Its Mental Images 40
(1). Elucidation of General Concentration 40
(1) Comprehensive visualization 40
(2) Analytical meditation 40
(3) Skillful investigation 41
(4) Meditation on the elimination of mental defilements 41
2. Different Meditations to Meet Differing Needs 42
3. Visualization at the Initial Stages of Practice [Tranquility] 43
4 Maintaining a Visualized Image through Mindfulness and Vigilance 44
3 The Methods of Realizing Tranquility 45
(1) The Eight Points of Mental Processes for Stability 46
(2) The Nine Stages of Settling the Mind 47
(3) The Six Powerful Methods for Achieving These Stages 48
(4) The Four Mental Applications for These Principles 49
 
CHAPTER THREE
The Stages of Tranquility and Insight: Part two, Insight
51
1 General Meditation on Insight 51
2 Developing the Perfect View of Insight 53
(1) Establishing the Perfect View [of Selflessness] 53
(2) The General Meditation on Selflessness 54
(1) The reason for meditating on selflessness 54
(2) Ways of meditating on the two kinds of selflessness 56
(1) The negation of the self of personality 56
(2) The negation of the self of phenomenal reality 58
(3) Emergence of perfect view through meditating on selflessness 61
(3) The Specific Methods of Meditating on the Perfect View of Ultimate Reality 64
1 Identification of the perfect view of reality 64
2 Meditation upon tranquil absorption 66
3 Achieving a postabsorptive perception 68
 
CHAPTER FOUR
The Stages of Tranquility and Insight: Part Three,
Clearing Doubts Regarding the Methods for Maintaining
The View of Reality and Meditative Absorption
70
1 Distinction Between Analytical Meditation and Concentrative Meditation [Fixed Attentiveness] 70
2 Application of Analysis and Concentration to Tranquility and Insight 72
3 Analysis and Concentration on the View of Reality 75
4 Elimination of Doubts About the Essential View of Reality 77
1 Review of Other Buddhist Schools 77
2 Establishing the Meditational System of Our School 84
 
BOOK TWO
An Extensive Elucidation of Mahamudra,
The Uncommon Meditation
89
 
PART ONE: PRELIMINARY EXPOSITION
90
  CHAPTER ONE
The Reasons for Engendering Trust
91
1 The Inherent Significance of the Teachings: Definition of Chakgya Chenpo [Mahamudra] 91
2 The Substance and Distinction of Mahamudra’s Inherent Significance 94
3 The Benefits Derived from the Knowledge of Mahamudra and the Harm Ensuing from Ignorance of It 95
2. The Origin of Mahamudra According to the Sutras 96
3. The Origin of Mahamudra According to the Tantras, Especially the Unsurpassed Link [Anuttara-tantra] 98
1. Exposition of the System of Three and Four Mudras 98
2. Exposition of the Extraordinary Mahamudra 101
3. Clearing Away the Confusion of Other Schools 104
4. How Mahamudra Embodies the Deep Meaning of All the Sutras and Tantras 109
1 Identifying the Essence of the Path 109
2 Condensing the Deep Meaning of the Sutras and Tantras 112
5 The Great Qualities of the Mahamudra Practitioners 116
1 The Lineage of the Realized Ones in India 116
2 The Lineage of the Meditative System in Tibet 118
 
CHAPTER TWO
Preparatory Practices
121
  Preparatory Practices 121
1 Preparation 121
1 The Systematic Path of General Teachings 121
2 he Description of the Preparatory Exercises for this Meditative Path 123
2 The Relevant Preparatory Practices: The Elucidation of the Uncommon Preparations 125
1 Contemplation on Impermanence and the Like for Overcoming Laziness 125
2 Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels and Engendering an Enlightened Attitude for Clearing Impediments in the Practice 126
3 Making an Offering of the Cosmos [Mandala] for Enhancing Personal Virtue 129
4 Meditation and Mantra Recitation for Purging Inner Defilements 131
5 Contemplative Harmonization with the Perfect State of the Guru for Drawing in Spiritual Blessings 133
3 The Practice Preceding the Meditational Stages 138
1 The Requirement to Understand the Definitive Precepts 139
2 How to Maintain Sessions for Meditation 141
 
PART TWO: THE MAIN MEDITATION OF MAHAMUDRA
 
1 A [Brief] Differentiation of Mahamudra Meditation 144
2 Stages of the Actual Meditation 146
 
CHAPTER THREE
 
 
Guiding Meditators on the Path: Tranquility
147
1 The Means of Mastering Tranquility 147
2 Physical Conduct and Posture 148
3 The Method of Concentrating on an Object 150
4 Meditation for Attaining Settled Tranquility with and without a Mental Image of an Object 151
1 Meditation for Attaining Settled Tranquility with a Mental Image of an Object 151
1 The actual meditation 151
2 Identification with a tranquil state of mind 154
2 Meditation for Attaining Settled Tranquility without a Mental Image of an Object 155
1 Using the breathing and not using the breathing 155
1 Using the breathing 155
1 Focusing the mind on counting each breath rhythm 155
2 Focusing the mind on the breath’s inward retention 157
2 Not using the breathing 159
2 Achieving formless tranquility without a mental image 160
1 The methods for achieving flawless tranquility 160
1 The importance of knowing the vital point of balance between exertion and relaxation 160
2 The meditation with mental exertion 161
3 The relaxed meditation 162
2 Recognizing its absorptive state 165
5 How to Maintain the Tranquil State 165
6 The Stages of Realizing the Settled Mind 170
7 The Purpose of Realizing Tranquility 174
 
CHAPTER FOUR
Guiding Meditators on the Path: Insight
177
1 The Reason Why Meditation on Insight Is Necessary 177
2 The Preparatory Practice for Insight 717
3 The Systems of Meditation on Insight 180
4 The Relevant Meditation on Insight 181
1 Determining the Intrinsic Nature of Diverse Mental Perceptions 181
1 The reason why one achieves insight into the mind 181
2 The determination of the mind’s true nature as being the basis for everything 185
1 Which of the scriptures deal with this subject? 185
2 The actual stages of this meditation 186
3 How this meditation compares with the original exposition 188
4 How to determine the nature of the mind 192
3 The determination of the mind’s dynamic manifestations and— dualistic appearances 196
1 The showing of all appearances to be the products of mind 196
2 The realization of mind, which will bring about an insight into all appearances 198
3 The actual stage of this meditation 200
2 Clearing Assumptions and Skepticism about the Basic Root [of Samsara and Nirvana] 203
1 The definite sense that thoughts and appearances are of mental origin 203
2 The attainment of certainty about the intrinsic nature of both tranquil and active states of mind 205
3 The sense of certainty that all appearances are only nonarising 208
5 The Characteristics of Emerging Insight 210
6 The Blending of Insight with Other Systems of Insight 212
 
CHAPTER FIVE
The Stages of Virtuous Practice
216
1 Understanding the System of Absorption at the Start 216
1 Determining the Abiding Nature of Mind 216
1 The Essence of Mind 216
2 The Nature of Mind 218
3 The Characteristics of Mind 221
2 Explaining the Definitive Meaning of Spontaneous Coemergence 223
1 The essence and terminology of spontaneous coemergence  
2 The differentiations of coemergence and their identification 225
3 The significance of spontaneous coemergence 227
2 The Actual Identification of Spontaneous Coemergence 228
1 Identifying Coemergence of the Mind 228
2 Identifying Coemergence of Thought 232
3 Identifying Coemergence of Appearance 237
3 The Elimination of Flaws and the Appreciation of the Meaning of Meditation 241
1 The Areas of Erroneous Meditation 241
2 The Flaws of Partial Meditation 247
3 The Recognition of Flawless Meditation 248
1 The mind’s abiding nature is said to be identical with ordinary mind 248
2 The recognition of the distinctive characteristics of ordinary mind 249
3 The undistracted state [of ordinary mind] is shown to be meditation on Mahamudra 252
 
CHAPTER SIX
Consolidation of Experience in Meditation:
How to Maintain Absorption and Postabsorption
255
1 The Reason for Maintaining the Meditation Even After Gaining Insight into the Identity of Virtuous Contemplation 255
1 The Reason for Maintaining the Meditation Even After Having Discovered Its Intrinsic State 255
2 In General, How to Maintain the Meditation with the Support of Mindfulness, Vigilance, and Self—restraint 257
3 In Particular, How the Role of Mindfulness is Vital in Meditation 261
2 How Specifically to Maintain Absorption and Postabsorption 265
1 Identifying the Nature of Absorption and Postabsorption 265
2 The Methods of Maintaining a General Meditative State 267
3 The Method of Maintaining Absorption 268
1 Enumerating the methods for maintaining the mind’s intrinsic nature 268
1 The six methods for maintaining the absorptive state 268
2 The well-known methods of settling the mind 272
3 The other methods of settling the mind 275
2 The condensed elucidation of these methods 277
1 Meditating without intellectual effort 277
2 Maintaining an undistracted awareness of intrinsic reality 278
3 How these two methods contain the vital instructions on meditation 280
4 The Method of Maintaining Postabsorption 283
1 Recognition of mindfulness in postabsorption 283
2 The method of maintaining meditation through postabsorptive mindfulness 284
3 Sublimating discriminating thoughts 286
1 Recognizing the contemplative identity 286
2 Reviving the awareness of intrinsic reality 287
3 Sublimating recreated afflictions 287
4 Perceiving postabsorptive perceptions as being like a magical scene 289
1 The meaning of a magical scene and the rise of illusion 289
2 Perceiving postabsorption as being. Like an illusion 290
5 The Method of Blending Absorption and Postabsorption 294
 
CHAPTER SEVEN
Consolidation Experience in Meditation:
How to Get Rid of Meditative Deviation
297
1 The Elimination of Aberration and Deviation with Regard to Absorptive Equipoise 297
1 The Elimination of the Four Aberrations 297
1 The identification of the four aberrations 297
2 The methods of guarding against these aberrations 299
2 The Elimination of the Three Deviations 304
1 Particular experiences as a possible ground for aberrations 304
2 How the aberrations turn into deviations 306
3 Methods to prevent deviations from taking place 312
2 The Methods of Removing Obstacles to Meditation 316
1 Removing Obstacles to General Absorption 316
2 Removing other External or Internal Obstacles 316
 
CHAPTER EIGHT
Consolidation of Experience in Meditation:
How to Determine the Mind as Nonarising [Emptiness] and Enhance Meditation
318
1 Determining the Mind to Be Expansive, Open, and Nonarising 318
1 The Epithet, Significance, and Time of Determining the Mind 318
2 Determining the Abiding Nature of the Mind 320
3 Watching the Mind’s Inner Face as the Basis of Determination 322
1 Watching the nature of mind and of appearances 322
2 The nature of meditation and meditator 325
4 Being Aware of the Mind’s Nonarising Openness 327
5 Remaining in the State of Determinate Awareness Throughout the Day and Night 332
2 Perfecting the Efficacy [of Awareness] through the Sublimation of the Path 335
1 The Ideal Time Conducive to the Practices 335
2 The Vital Significance of this Practice in General 340
3 The Six Ways of Sublimating the Practices 342
1 Elevating dualistic thoughts to the path by transforming any agonizing crisis into blessed conditions 343
2 Elevating crude emotions to the path through the spiritual process called “Transforming Poison into Ambrosia” 345
3 Elevating obstacles emanating from the superior and subordinate spiritual forces to the path 347
4 Elevating miseries to the path by transforming them into the spirit of enlightenment [bodhichitta] 349
5 Elevating the afflictions of disease to the path that harmonizes psychophysical elements into the even flavor of the elements 351
6 Elevating one’s dying to the path by unifying one’s primal consciousness and recollected contemplative awareness, the way a mother and her daughter are reunited 353
 
CHAPTER NINE
The Resultant Dawning of Realization
355
1 Differentiating the Ways of Realization 355
2 How Realization of the Four Stages of Yoga Takes Place 358
1 How the Sutras and Tantras Show the Four Stages of Yoga 359
2 The General Meaning and the Essence of the Four Stages of Yoga 363
3 The General Meaning of the Distinct Nature of Each [of the Pour Yoga Stages] 366
1 The difference in realization among the yoga stages 367
2 The somber realm of inner sensations 368
3 How postabsorption is maintained 369
4 How stains of the mind are purified 370
5 How postabsorption is pacified 371
6 The difference between absorption and postabsorption 371
7 The time of realization for each of the four yoga stages 373
8 Some other characteristics of these four stages 374
3 The Specific Elucidation of Each of the Four Yoga Stages of Mahamudra 378
1 Differentiating Each of the Four Yoga Stages 378
2 Differentiating Separately Each Level of the Four Yoga Stages 380
1 The one-pointed yoga 380
1 The differentiation of the one-pointed yoga 381
2 How inner sensation and experience will dawn 383
3 How this yoga is maintained 385
2 The nondiscriminatory yoga 388
1 The differentiation of the nondiscriminatory yoga 388
2 How inner sensation and experience will dawn 390
3 How this yoga is maintained 391
3 The yoga of one flavor 393
1 The differentiation of the one-flavor yoga 393
2 How inner sensation and experience will dawn 396
3 How this yoga is maintained 397
4 The yoga of nonmeditation 399
1 The differentiation of the yoga of nonmeditation 399
2 How inner sensation and experience will dawn 402
3 How this yoga is maintained 403
5 The summary of their vital significance 405
[3] How the Various Grounds and Paths [of Enlightenment] are Reached Through the Four Yogas 408
  Dedication by Dukpo Tushi Numgyul 416
  Colophon 419
  Sources Cited in Mahamudra 467
  Suggested Reading 478

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Mahamudra The Moonlight Quintessence of Mind and Meditation

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2008
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From the Book

Mahamudra is the first English translation of a major Tibetan Buddhist presentation of the theory and practice of meditation—a manual detailing the various stages and practices for training the advanced student. The original Tibetan text of nearly 800 pages was composed by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal (1511-1587), a great lama and a scholar of the sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

His text is so vast and thorough in scope that it is still the primary- source used by living Tibetan meditation masters in instructing their disciples. The many levels of meditation covered include the following: the differentiation between stages of tranquility and insight meditation; preparation for mahamudra meditation; the various methods of mahamudra practice; methods for removing obstacles to meditation; how one achieves realization; and the four is yogas of mahamudra.

The first major text representing the meditational methods of both mahayana and vajrayana Buddhism to appear in English. Mahamudra is an invaluable guide for advanced students, scholars, and Buddhist practitioners.

Dakpo Tashi Namgyal (1511-87) school of Tibetan Buddhism who aim trained in the Sakya School. Was renowned as both a scholar and meditator. During his later years he served as chief abbot of Daklha Campo in southern Tibet.

LOBSANG P. LHALUNGPA (1926- ) was born in Lhasa, Tibet. From 1940 until 1952, he was a monk—official in the service of his Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government. He is also the translator of the Life of Milarepa and author of Tibet - the Sacred realm, and his translations of Dharma verses appear in Sacred Traditions and Living Culture. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Back of the Book

 

Mahamudra: The Moonlight
The Quintessence of Mind and Meditation
DAKPO TASHI NAMGYAL

Mahamudra meditation is simultaneously the most profound of meditative disciplines and the most accessible for modern practitioners. Traditionally passed orally from teacher to disciple, mahamudra instructions point the meditator to the innate perfection of every experience.

When it first appeared in 1986, Mahamudra: The Moonlight—The Qnintessence of Mind and Meditation was the first presentation in English of a major Tibetan Buddhist work on meditation. This classic guide was composed in the sixteen century by an eminent lama of the Kagyu School and is so comprehensive and practical that it is still widely used today as a manual. Divided into two major sections, it presents first the common approach and then the mahamudra approach to tranquility (samatha) and insight (vipasyana) meditation.

Preface to the First Edition

Mahamudra: The Quintessence of Mind and Meditation was translated from 1976 to 1977. The finalization was done in stages, from 1981 to 1983, in between my other work. I paid special attention to the careful checking of the entire translation and editorial work, to the preparation of footnotes, to the bibliography of the Sanskrit and Tibetan titles of the Tibetan texts quoted in this treatise, and to the index.

For many years I have devoted myself to the translation of Tibetan literature — both secular and religious — into English, but have delayed publishing my translations of Buddhist texts in order to ensure their complete accuracy. None of us in the tradition has any illusions about being able to achieve the same high standard of writing and translating as that of the learned and enlightened Lama—Lotsavas of ancient Tibet, who translated Buddhist works from many other languages. Besides, the conditions for serious translators are not favorable in these modern times. Yet a series of significant events in my life finally brought about the translation of this great esoteric text.

Since.1959, when many thousands of Tibetans escaped to India and other neighboring countries, I had been asked to translate Buddhist texts by the highest authority within our tradition and by many of my Lamas. In 1969 the late Venerable Dukchen Thuksay Rinpoche, renowned master of the Drukpa Kagyti Order, presented me with a xylographed print of a Tibetan text during an assembly at Sangngak Choling Monastery in Darjeeling (India). While blessing me, Rinpoche, in his gentle voice, said: “This is the most important sacred text! I urge you to translate it." When I opened the book and read the title, I was deeply moved. Here was the Mahamudra text, one of the great Buddhist classics that I had already been studying.

A few years later, His Holiness Karmapa Rigpei Dorje, the Sixteenth Karmapa, presented me with seven great commentaries on the sutric and tantric teachings. He also handed me a certificate bearing his seal that assigned me the task of translating these texts. On the list of titles this Mahamudra text was especially marked for translation.

Finally, during a visit to New York in 1975, Dr. C. T. Shen, president of the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions at Stonybrook, offered me a contract for translating the same Mahamudra text. Dr. Shen also invited the Venerable Dezhung Rinpoche to be adviser for this project. In addition to his generous financial support, Dr. Shen provided us with a lovely, quiet residence on his Long Island estate of Bodhifield. Throughout our two-year stay there, both Dr. and Mrs. Shen extended to us every possible courtesy and assistance. I personally and all of us in the Dharma are indeed deeply indebted to Dr. Shen, especially since his sponsorship represents only one of his many invaluable projects for the advancement of Buddhism. I here also express my deep respect and appreciation to the Venerable Dezhung Rinpoche, a great eclectic Lama and a teacher of the Sakyapa Order, for his advice and explanations of the difficult passages found in this text.

My sincere appreciation and thanks are due to my family for their encouragement and support: to my wife, Gisela Minke, for having enthusiastically and tirelessly typed and checked the English; to my son Samphe Dorje for his invaluable help in editing the first part of the translation; and to my younger son, Nawang Tenzin, for providing me with much practical help.

I wish to acknowledge with deep appreciation the advice and assistance given by a number of individuals: first and foremost my dear friends Mary Ann and Lawrence Tucker, who have consistently encouraged and supported me; my friend Ani Tsering Chodon (Martha Hamilton) for checking and typing the bilingual bibliography of the titles quoted in Mahamudra; the Venerable Chogyam Trungpa, Rinpoche, Dr. Herbert V. Guenther, and Dr. Garma C. C. Chang for reading my list of Buddhist technical terms in English and Tibetan; and also my friends Gene Smith, Hannah Robinson, Dr. Gloria Count-van Manen, and Elizabeth Dale for having read parts of the translation and for having encouraged me.

My sincere appreciation and thanks also go to the staff of the Institute for Advanced Studies of World Religions at Stonybrook, Long Island, for making available to me many Tibetan texts and for allowing me to use the facilities of the institute.

I want to express special thanks to those institutions and individuals who have provided me with some of the funds required for the finalization. The major part of this expense and much voluntary assistance came from my own family. I am very grateful to Buddhayana Foundation in Massachusetts, to the Marsden Foundation in New York, and to Mr. Michael Wunmbrand for providing me with part of the funding.

Last but not least, I am very grateful indeed to my publisher, Mr. Samuel Bercholz, of Shambhala, who took a personal interest in this publication.

The xylographed text of Mahamudra used in this translation was printed on handmade Tibetan paper from carved woodblocks that had been preserved at Sri Neuteng of Gyal, in Dingri, western Tibet, until the “cultural revolution.” The folio numbers of this text appear in the left—hand margins of this English translation.

Since this text is an original Tibetan composition and contains numerous terms of distinct Tibetan character, I have included a limited list of Sanskrit equivalents. The Tibetan script (which was adapted from an ancient Indian script) employs many silent letters. The recent practice of literally transcribing Tibetan words seems only to confuse foreign readers. I myself was surprised and amused when I first read my name in English as “bLobzang Phuntshogs.” In this text I have deliberately adhered to the more practical phonetic rendering, which facilitates smooth reading.

Despite my dedicated efforts, there could still be errors and inaccuracies in this translation. If so, I sincerely apologize for these shortcomings. ‘I must confess that in both the translation and in my introduction I have addressed myself mainly to practicing Buddhists and only partly to the general readership. It is my sincere wish that this great text may serve practicing Buddhists as an illuminating guide while conveying the Buddha’s message of universal enlightenment, thus fulfilling the noble goal of the sponsor and of all others directly involved with this effort.

May this translation also be regarded as one of the worthy memorials in honor of over one million Tibetan Buddhists killed in Tibet during the last three decades.

Translator’s Introduction

Mahamudra: The Moonlight — Quintessence of Mind and Meditation represents the advanced doctrine and practice as understood and realized by the Kagyupa Order of Tibetan Buddhism.

The original Tibetan title of this sixteenth-century text is Ngedon chakgya chenpoi gomrim selvarjepai lekshey dawaiozer, which reads literally as “The Perfect Description of Moonlight that Illuminates the Stages of Ultimate Mahamudra [The Great Seal]." The term “Great Seal" (Mahamudra) contains many different meanings. Here it stands for the ultimate nature of mind and reality. Lust as a royal seal wields unchallengeable authority, so the all-encompassing voidness of the ultimate reality prevails upon the cosmic phenomena. It also stands for the path of self-realization, which integrates authentic view, contemplation, and action into one perfect insight.

This extraordinary treatise provides not only a wealth of knowledge but also methods for realizing enlightenment. In writing this work the great Tibetan teacher Tashi Namgyal (1511-1587) made known many of the ancient secret oral teachings and published them as xylographic prints. Among other well-known treatises by the author are The Resplendent Jewel: An Elucidation of the Buddhist Tantra and The Sunlight: An Elucidation of Hevajra-tantra. In the course of his extensive studies and training, Tashi Namgyal studied with some Sakyapa teachers and even acted as the abbot of Nalanda Sakyapa Monastery, north of Lhasa. During his later years he functioned as Gampopa’s regent and as chief abbot of the monastery of Daklha Gampo, in South Tibet.

The Mahamudra is neither a students’ manual nor a self-explanatory book. Like other great Buddhist treatises it is studied under the guidance of a chosen teacher. The need for a tutor becomes apparent when one considers the magnitude of this very esoteric work, the profundity of the subject, its complex structure, its conceptual subtlety, and its technical intricacy. Among the problems untutored students would encounter are a certain (deliberate) vagueness, enigmatic quotations, allusions, and even some apparent contradictions.

This great Tibetan classic, which is widely recognized as an outstanding original work, reveals profound wisdom. The text draws systematically on the vital knowledge and the practical methods of the Buddhist sciences that form the major part of the monastic syllabus. From the sacred law (vinaya) comes the tenet of self-control, the conquest and transformation of the mind. From the essential aspects of logic (pramana) come the methods of determining the nature of reality. From the psychological branch of the sublime doctrine (abhidharma) come the methods of identifying and eliminating the root of self—delusion. From the tenets of the Buddha’s transcendental wisdom (prajnaparamita) come the ways of achieving insight into the universal voidness (sarvadharma-sunyata) as the ultimate state. From the Mahayana system of self-realization comes the essential practice known as (the twin principles of) transcendental wisdom and infinite compassion. From this ideal emanate the psychological methods for reorienting self-centeredness to a definite concern and compassion for others. From the Buddhist tantric doctrine come the methods of transforming inner delusion and its manifestations into aspects of transcendental wisdom. The distinct Mahamudra meditation will then reveal the ways of achieving instantaneous insight into the innate perfection of every perception or thought.

The entire text is divided into two parts. The first part contains the principles and practices of tranquility and insight meditation according to the Hinayana (Little Vehicle) and Mahayana (Great Vehicle) systems. The second part contains the advanced meditational system according to Mahayana followed by the higher system of Mahamudra (the Great Seal).

The intricate structure of this text is divided into many segments, which may appear confusing to those outside the Tibetan tradition, but it does not obscure the textual sequence - or the thematic coherence. The divisions are designed to help teachers explain the text systematically and to enable the students to comprehend the complex doctrine and practice.

The elucidation is written in classical Tibetan prose and is illustrated by innumerable quotations, all drawn from the Buddha’s sutras and tantras, from the exegetical treatises (sastras) of the ancient Buddhist masters, and their mystical poems (dohas).

Before the actual text begins, there is the traditional homage by the author, Tashi Namgyal, to the lineage of the Mahamudra transmission: to his personal guru (unnamed), to the Indestructible Mind (vajramanas), and to the Buddha in his ultimate state (dharmakaya) and in his earthly manifestation (nirmana- kaya). The principal masters duly venerated here are Saraha, Nagarjuna, Marpa, Milarepa, and Gampopa (all of the Kagyupa order). The author especially honors Gampopa as the second Buddha and the e3xpounder of this unique Mahamudra system.

The text begins with a description of the two distinct insights and approaches originating from the Buddha’s teachings of the sutras and tantras, that is, the common path of gradual self-realization and the uncommon path of instantaneous self-realization. The stages of the Mahamudra meditation embody these two paths systematically and coherently. The fundamental and advanced sutric meditations on tranquility and insight represent the gradual path, while the actual Mahamudra tradition represents the instantaneous path. The sutric meditations on the gradual path form the foundation, while the Mahamudra meditation represents the nonmystical, direct approach. However, Mahamudra meditation does not employ tantric methods per se. even though the Buddhist tantra is looked upon as the rapid path of self-realization, it is generally considered to be an essential element of the gradual path.

The Foundation of Buddhist Studies

I am here incorporating a description of the fundamental religious training required of trainees before they starts the Mahamudra meditation, in order to provide a complete panorama of Tibetan Buddhist practice. Such training generally consists of the study of both the fundamental and advanced sutras and tantras. This can be achieved by taking either a comprehensive or a selective course in such traditional subjects as the moral cannon (vinaya), logic (pramana), the central philosophy (madhyamaka), the science of mind and materiality (abhidharma), and transcendental wisdom (prajnaparamita). Some of the Tibetan orders, such as the Kagyupa, prefer to specify these courses in terms of thirteen main treatises. These texts are studied and tested daily in the form of debates. Individual students alternately take the role of challenger. Each defender is questioned by a number of challengers, one-by-one. Instructors, scholars, and abbots witness the debates, especially during the major and minor public examinations. Among the topics chosen by individuals outside their formal courses inations. Among the topics chosen by individuals outside their formal courses could be Sanskritic semantics, linguistics and philology, the Tibetan poetics and prose composition, astrology astronomy, holistic medicine, arts, architecture, and crafts.

One who cannot devote years to such comprehensive studies might take a condensed course. This could be done by studying either the broad outlines of certain texts or abridged versions of them. for every Buddhist order there is a popular and practical text that explains, in simpler language, the general teachings and which is studied by every meditator, student, and scholar. For the Kagyupa practitioners there is Gampopa’s renowned text The Jewel Ornament of Liberation.

The selective course consists of texts on sutric and tantric doctrines. Here individuals may choose some of the concise doctrinal treatises and meditational guides. Buddhist studies represent a complete process of human and intellectual development as illustrated by the following maxim: “Self-control, wisdom, and compassion are achieved only through listening, examining, and meditating? The test of the training should be an immediate spiritual maturity resulting from the taming of the worldly mind through the elimination of some basic malaise like selfishness, greed, or hatred; a deepening insight into the true reality; and a growing concern for the well-being of others.

In the Buddhist tradition, scholarship is only a means to an end. Buddhism combines rationality and faith, knowledge and inner awakening, as a way to spiritual attainment. Knowledge is acquired through years of Buddhist textual studies and debates, and awakening through consistent meditational practices.

A trainee will begin by seeking the oral transmission of a chosen text from a teacher. This is regarded as a significant event, as the teacher bestows on him the energy—stream of the sacred words, along with the blessings of the lineage, both of which he himself received from his teachers. This empowers the student. For tutorial studies. He will then receive the oral elucidation of the text, which may take weeks or months. There are various forms of explaining the texts: a simple literal explanation (tsigtri), a full explanation (dontri), and an experiential elucidation (nyamtri or martri) based on the teacher’s personal experience. The most important of all is the elucidation on each successive stage, which requires the student to meditate for a period of time and then to relate his experience to the teacher. This leads to regular discussions with the teacher in respect to the practice, its problems, and its progress. All the various orders of Tibetan Buddhism practice these oral transmissions.

This text presupposes that the trainee already has a good understanding of the gradual path to enlightenment as the essential religious foundation.

The Contemplative Foundation

The following will show how the student completes the entire contemplative course according to the tradition of the gradual path. The whole course is divided into three practices for “three types of spiritual aspirants”: primary, average, and advanced. In the course of these practices the student develops a right view, right contemplation, and right actions. These practical principles represent wisdom, tranquility, and discipline. He learns how to harmonize his contemplative experience with his active life- How, for instance, to inspire and invigorate his daily life with contemplative insight and tranquility.

 

CONTENTS

 

  Dedication xix
  Foreword by His Holiness the Dalai Lama xxi
  Preface to the First Edition xxii
  Acknowledgements to the Second Edition xxv
  Translator’s Introduction xxvii
  The Foundation of Buddhist Studies xix
  The Contemplative Foundation xxx
  Tranquility and Insight: The Basic Stage of Mahamudra Meditation xxxiii
  Meditation on Tranquility xxxiv
  The role of mindfulness xxxv
  Timely vigilance xxxvi
  The nine stages of tranquility xxxvi
  Meditation on Insight (into the True Reality) xxxviii
  Mahamudra, the Quintessence of Reality xliv
  The Four Yogas of Mahamudra xlvii
 
MAHAMUDRA
Introduction by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal
 
  Homage 3
  The Resolution to Compose this Work 5
  The Reasons Why the Meditation on the True Nature of Mind Is Essential 6
1 All Realities Are But Mental Phenomena 6
2 The Deficiencies Arising from Not Meditating on the True Nature of Mind 9
3 The Benefits Arising from Meditation 11
 
BOOK ONE
A Concise Elucidation of the Common System of Tranquil Equipoise
13
 
The Outline of Tranquil Equipoise in General and the Removal of Doubts
15
  The Ordinary Meditation of Tranquility and Insight 17
1 The Cause of Tranquility and Insight 17
2 The Elimination of Hindrances to Tranquility and Insight 18
1 The Recognition of Hindrances 19
2 Instructions in the Remedies Necessary to Remove-the Hindrances 21
(1). The general elucidation of remedies for hindrances 21
(2). The specific means for removing dullness and sensual incitement 23
1 Refraining from the causes of dullness and sensual incitement 23
2 The elimination of dullness and sensual incitement 24
3 Identification of the True Nature of Tranquility and insight 26
4 Distinctions of Tranquility and Insight 29
5 Examination of the Stages of Tranquility and Insight 31
6 Meditation on Joint Tranquility and Insight 33
(1) The Reason One Needs Both Tranquility and Insight 33
(2) The Method of Combining These Two 34
7 The Result of Tranquility and Insight 37
 
CHAPTER TWO
The Stages of Tranquility and Insight: Part One, Tranquility
39
1. The Preparation for Achieving Tranquility 39
2. The Elucidation of Its Mental Images 40
(1). Elucidation of General Concentration 40
(1) Comprehensive visualization 40
(2) Analytical meditation 40
(3) Skillful investigation 41
(4) Meditation on the elimination of mental defilements 41
2. Different Meditations to Meet Differing Needs 42
3. Visualization at the Initial Stages of Practice [Tranquility] 43
4 Maintaining a Visualized Image through Mindfulness and Vigilance 44
3 The Methods of Realizing Tranquility 45
(1) The Eight Points of Mental Processes for Stability 46
(2) The Nine Stages of Settling the Mind 47
(3) The Six Powerful Methods for Achieving These Stages 48
(4) The Four Mental Applications for These Principles 49
 
CHAPTER THREE
The Stages of Tranquility and Insight: Part two, Insight
51
1 General Meditation on Insight 51
2 Developing the Perfect View of Insight 53
(1) Establishing the Perfect View [of Selflessness] 53
(2) The General Meditation on Selflessness 54
(1) The reason for meditating on selflessness 54
(2) Ways of meditating on the two kinds of selflessness 56
(1) The negation of the self of personality 56
(2) The negation of the self of phenomenal reality 58
(3) Emergence of perfect view through meditating on selflessness 61
(3) The Specific Methods of Meditating on the Perfect View of Ultimate Reality 64
1 Identification of the perfect view of reality 64
2 Meditation upon tranquil absorption 66
3 Achieving a postabsorptive perception 68
 
CHAPTER FOUR
The Stages of Tranquility and Insight: Part Three,
Clearing Doubts Regarding the Methods for Maintaining
The View of Reality and Meditative Absorption
70
1 Distinction Between Analytical Meditation and Concentrative Meditation [Fixed Attentiveness] 70
2 Application of Analysis and Concentration to Tranquility and Insight 72
3 Analysis and Concentration on the View of Reality 75
4 Elimination of Doubts About the Essential View of Reality 77
1 Review of Other Buddhist Schools 77
2 Establishing the Meditational System of Our School 84
 
BOOK TWO
An Extensive Elucidation of Mahamudra,
The Uncommon Meditation
89
 
PART ONE: PRELIMINARY EXPOSITION
90
  CHAPTER ONE
The Reasons for Engendering Trust
91
1 The Inherent Significance of the Teachings: Definition of Chakgya Chenpo [Mahamudra] 91
2 The Substance and Distinction of Mahamudra’s Inherent Significance 94
3 The Benefits Derived from the Knowledge of Mahamudra and the Harm Ensuing from Ignorance of It 95
2. The Origin of Mahamudra According to the Sutras 96
3. The Origin of Mahamudra According to the Tantras, Especially the Unsurpassed Link [Anuttara-tantra] 98
1. Exposition of the System of Three and Four Mudras 98
2. Exposition of the Extraordinary Mahamudra 101
3. Clearing Away the Confusion of Other Schools 104
4. How Mahamudra Embodies the Deep Meaning of All the Sutras and Tantras 109
1 Identifying the Essence of the Path 109
2 Condensing the Deep Meaning of the Sutras and Tantras 112
5 The Great Qualities of the Mahamudra Practitioners 116
1 The Lineage of the Realized Ones in India 116
2 The Lineage of the Meditative System in Tibet 118
 
CHAPTER TWO
Preparatory Practices
121
  Preparatory Practices 121
1 Preparation 121
1 The Systematic Path of General Teachings 121
2 he Description of the Preparatory Exercises for this Meditative Path 123
2 The Relevant Preparatory Practices: The Elucidation of the Uncommon Preparations 125
1 Contemplation on Impermanence and the Like for Overcoming Laziness 125
2 Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels and Engendering an Enlightened Attitude for Clearing Impediments in the Practice 126
3 Making an Offering of the Cosmos [Mandala] for Enhancing Personal Virtue 129
4 Meditation and Mantra Recitation for Purging Inner Defilements 131
5 Contemplative Harmonization with the Perfect State of the Guru for Drawing in Spiritual Blessings 133
3 The Practice Preceding the Meditational Stages 138
1 The Requirement to Understand the Definitive Precepts 139
2 How to Maintain Sessions for Meditation 141
 
PART TWO: THE MAIN MEDITATION OF MAHAMUDRA
 
1 A [Brief] Differentiation of Mahamudra Meditation 144
2 Stages of the Actual Meditation 146
 
CHAPTER THREE
 
 
Guiding Meditators on the Path: Tranquility
147
1 The Means of Mastering Tranquility 147
2 Physical Conduct and Posture 148
3 The Method of Concentrating on an Object 150
4 Meditation for Attaining Settled Tranquility with and without a Mental Image of an Object 151
1 Meditation for Attaining Settled Tranquility with a Mental Image of an Object 151
1 The actual meditation 151
2 Identification with a tranquil state of mind 154
2 Meditation for Attaining Settled Tranquility without a Mental Image of an Object 155
1 Using the breathing and not using the breathing 155
1 Using the breathing 155
1 Focusing the mind on counting each breath rhythm 155
2 Focusing the mind on the breath’s inward retention 157
2 Not using the breathing 159
2 Achieving formless tranquility without a mental image 160
1 The methods for achieving flawless tranquility 160
1 The importance of knowing the vital point of balance between exertion and relaxation 160
2 The meditation with mental exertion 161
3 The relaxed meditation 162
2 Recognizing its absorptive state 165
5 How to Maintain the Tranquil State 165
6 The Stages of Realizing the Settled Mind 170
7 The Purpose of Realizing Tranquility 174
 
CHAPTER FOUR
Guiding Meditators on the Path: Insight
177
1 The Reason Why Meditation on Insight Is Necessary 177
2 The Preparatory Practice for Insight 717
3 The Systems of Meditation on Insight 180
4 The Relevant Meditation on Insight 181
1 Determining the Intrinsic Nature of Diverse Mental Perceptions 181
1 The reason why one achieves insight into the mind 181
2 The determination of the mind’s true nature as being the basis for everything 185
1 Which of the scriptures deal with this subject? 185
2 The actual stages of this meditation 186
3 How this meditation compares with the original exposition 188
4 How to determine the nature of the mind 192
3 The determination of the mind’s dynamic manifestations and— dualistic appearances 196
1 The showing of all appearances to be the products of mind 196
2 The realization of mind, which will bring about an insight into all appearances 198
3 The actual stage of this meditation 200
2 Clearing Assumptions and Skepticism about the Basic Root [of Samsara and Nirvana] 203
1 The definite sense that thoughts and appearances are of mental origin 203
2 The attainment of certainty about the intrinsic nature of both tranquil and active states of mind 205
3 The sense of certainty that all appearances are only nonarising 208
5 The Characteristics of Emerging Insight 210
6 The Blending of Insight with Other Systems of Insight 212
 
CHAPTER FIVE
The Stages of Virtuous Practice
216
1 Understanding the System of Absorption at the Start 216
1 Determining the Abiding Nature of Mind 216
1 The Essence of Mind 216
2 The Nature of Mind 218
3 The Characteristics of Mind 221
2 Explaining the Definitive Meaning of Spontaneous Coemergence 223
1 The essence and terminology of spontaneous coemergence  
2 The differentiations of coemergence and their identification 225
3 The significance of spontaneous coemergence 227
2 The Actual Identification of Spontaneous Coemergence 228
1 Identifying Coemergence of the Mind 228
2 Identifying Coemergence of Thought 232
3 Identifying Coemergence of Appearance 237
3 The Elimination of Flaws and the Appreciation of the Meaning of Meditation 241
1 The Areas of Erroneous Meditation 241
2 The Flaws of Partial Meditation 247
3 The Recognition of Flawless Meditation 248
1 The mind’s abiding nature is said to be identical with ordinary mind 248
2 The recognition of the distinctive characteristics of ordinary mind 249
3 The undistracted state [of ordinary mind] is shown to be meditation on Mahamudra 252
 
CHAPTER SIX
Consolidation of Experience in Meditation:
How to Maintain Absorption and Postabsorption
255
1 The Reason for Maintaining the Meditation Even After Gaining Insight into the Identity of Virtuous Contemplation 255
1 The Reason for Maintaining the Meditation Even After Having Discovered Its Intrinsic State 255
2 In General, How to Maintain the Meditation with the Support of Mindfulness, Vigilance, and Self—restraint 257
3 In Particular, How the Role of Mindfulness is Vital in Meditation 261
2 How Specifically to Maintain Absorption and Postabsorption 265
1 Identifying the Nature of Absorption and Postabsorption 265
2 The Methods of Maintaining a General Meditative State 267
3 The Method of Maintaining Absorption 268
1 Enumerating the methods for maintaining the mind’s intrinsic nature 268
1 The six methods for maintaining the absorptive state 268
2 The well-known methods of settling the mind 272
3 The other methods of settling the mind 275
2 The condensed elucidation of these methods 277
1 Meditating without intellectual effort 277
2 Maintaining an undistracted awareness of intrinsic reality 278
3 How these two methods contain the vital instructions on meditation 280
4 The Method of Maintaining Postabsorption 283
1 Recognition of mindfulness in postabsorption 283
2 The method of maintaining meditation through postabsorptive mindfulness 284
3 Sublimating discriminating thoughts 286
1 Recognizing the contemplative identity 286
2 Reviving the awareness of intrinsic reality 287
3 Sublimating recreated afflictions 287
4 Perceiving postabsorptive perceptions as being like a magical scene 289
1 The meaning of a magical scene and the rise of illusion 289
2 Perceiving postabsorption as being. Like an illusion 290
5 The Method of Blending Absorption and Postabsorption 294
 
CHAPTER SEVEN
Consolidation Experience in Meditation:
How to Get Rid of Meditative Deviation
297
1 The Elimination of Aberration and Deviation with Regard to Absorptive Equipoise 297
1 The Elimination of the Four Aberrations 297
1 The identification of the four aberrations 297
2 The methods of guarding against these aberrations 299
2 The Elimination of the Three Deviations 304
1 Particular experiences as a possible ground for aberrations 304
2 How the aberrations turn into deviations 306
3 Methods to prevent deviations from taking place 312
2 The Methods of Removing Obstacles to Meditation 316
1 Removing Obstacles to General Absorption 316
2 Removing other External or Internal Obstacles 316
 
CHAPTER EIGHT
Consolidation of Experience in Meditation:
How to Determine the Mind as Nonarising [Emptiness] and Enhance Meditation
318
1 Determining the Mind to Be Expansive, Open, and Nonarising 318
1 The Epithet, Significance, and Time of Determining the Mind 318
2 Determining the Abiding Nature of the Mind 320
3 Watching the Mind’s Inner Face as the Basis of Determination 322
1 Watching the nature of mind and of appearances 322
2 The nature of meditation and meditator 325
4 Being Aware of the Mind’s Nonarising Openness 327
5 Remaining in the State of Determinate Awareness Throughout the Day and Night 332
2 Perfecting the Efficacy [of Awareness] through the Sublimation of the Path 335
1 The Ideal Time Conducive to the Practices 335
2 The Vital Significance of this Practice in General 340
3 The Six Ways of Sublimating the Practices 342
1 Elevating dualistic thoughts to the path by transforming any agonizing crisis into blessed conditions 343
2 Elevating crude emotions to the path through the spiritual process called “Transforming Poison into Ambrosia” 345
3 Elevating obstacles emanating from the superior and subordinate spiritual forces to the path 347
4 Elevating miseries to the path by transforming them into the spirit of enlightenment [bodhichitta] 349
5 Elevating the afflictions of disease to the path that harmonizes psychophysical elements into the even flavor of the elements 351
6 Elevating one’s dying to the path by unifying one’s primal consciousness and recollected contemplative awareness, the way a mother and her daughter are reunited 353
 
CHAPTER NINE
The Resultant Dawning of Realization
355
1 Differentiating the Ways of Realization 355
2 How Realization of the Four Stages of Yoga Takes Place 358
1 How the Sutras and Tantras Show the Four Stages of Yoga 359
2 The General Meaning and the Essence of the Four Stages of Yoga 363
3 The General Meaning of the Distinct Nature of Each [of the Pour Yoga Stages] 366
1 The difference in realization among the yoga stages 367
2 The somber realm of inner sensations 368
3 How postabsorption is maintained 369
4 How stains of the mind are purified 370
5 How postabsorption is pacified 371
6 The difference between absorption and postabsorption 371
7 The time of realization for each of the four yoga stages 373
8 Some other characteristics of these four stages 374
3 The Specific Elucidation of Each of the Four Yoga Stages of Mahamudra 378
1 Differentiating Each of the Four Yoga Stages 378
2 Differentiating Separately Each Level of the Four Yoga Stages 380
1 The one-pointed yoga 380
1 The differentiation of the one-pointed yoga 381
2 How inner sensation and experience will dawn 383
3 How this yoga is maintained 385
2 The nondiscriminatory yoga 388
1 The differentiation of the nondiscriminatory yoga 388
2 How inner sensation and experience will dawn 390
3 How this yoga is maintained 391
3 The yoga of one flavor 393
1 The differentiation of the one-flavor yoga 393
2 How inner sensation and experience will dawn 396
3 How this yoga is maintained 397
4 The yoga of nonmeditation 399
1 The differentiation of the yoga of nonmeditation 399
2 How inner sensation and experience will dawn 402
3 How this yoga is maintained 403
5 The summary of their vital significance 405
[3] How the Various Grounds and Paths [of Enlightenment] are Reached Through the Four Yogas 408
  Dedication by Dukpo Tushi Numgyul 416
  Colophon 419
  Sources Cited in Mahamudra 467
  Suggested Reading 478

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