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Kristina Bischoff

Karma Chang Chub Choephel Ling

The Summary of Mahamudra

"Like the light of the sun, moon, and stars, may love, compassion, and wisdom shine forth. May they strike every single living being and dispel the darkness of ignorance, attachment, and hatred that has lurked for ages in their being. When any living being meets with another, may it be like the reunion of a mother and child who have long been separated. In a harmonious world such as this, may I see everyone sleep peacefully to the music of non-violence. This is my dream."  --  His Holiness the Seventeenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje


Instructions on the Treatise, entitled
"The Summary of Mahamudra -  Phyag-rgya-chen-po'i-tshig-bsdüs-pa,"
written by Panchen Naropa,


presented by Venerable Khenpo Karma Namgyal



I wish to greet everyone who has come here to receive instructions on Mahamudra. Let us recite The Refuge Prayer, The Bodhicitta Prayer, and The Short Vajradhara Lineage Prayer together first.

The short treatise that we will study together, The Summary of Mahamudra, deals with the essence of the ultimate view, meditation, and activities of Mahamudra. It's often said that Maitripa wrote this short text, but there seems to be an error. I have spoken about this with many scholars and they all agree that it was not written by Maitripa, rather by the Great Pandita Naropa, who transmitted it personally to Marpa, his eminent disciple. Marpa Lotsawa, the Great Translator, travelled to India three times and met many renowned Lamas, among others Maitripa. One thing is certain: Naropa was Marpa's Root Guru. The three first Lineage-Holders of Mahamudra in the Kagyü Tradition are Tilopa, Naropa, and Marpa. It is good to know a little about the history of the Kagyü Oral Transmission Lineage.

There was always one great Khenpo at the famous Nalanda University in India who transmitted the oral instructions and presented explanations to students there. Panchen Naropa was that great scholar, a Khenpo-chen-po, and he associated with many other great scholars there.

Just as disciples focus upon a specific Yidam, Naropa's main meditation deity was Arya Tara. He received the prophecy from Arya Tara that he should seek a teacher named Tilopa. She advised him to definitely receive teachings from him and to become his follower. Based upon this prophecy, Naropa left Nalanda University and sought Tilopa. It took Naropa many years to find Tilopa and when he did find him, he received instructions from him, practiced them, and realized Mahamudra. You can read about the Transmission Lineage - how Naropa received instructions from his Root Guru Tilopa, how he relied upon him, and realized Mahamudra.

Naropa was trained so well that he was able to transmit the teachings to his disciple Marpa the Great Translator, who travelled to the source of the teachings, which was in India, three times. It was a wondrous feat, seeing there were no airplanes and he had to walk. Renowned scholars he met during his travels gave many precious texts to Marpa. He brought them to Tibet and meticulously translated them. Now these texts are printed on a few pages of paper that we can hold in our hands, and - being very auspicious - we should consider ourselves more than fortunate to have them.

Although one has these texts, one does need to understand their meaning and take it to heart, which is only possible if one's mind has become cleansed of mental impurities that obscure a true understanding. In order to understand the meaning of this treatise fully, one needs to practice and purify one's negative emotions that obscure the true nature of one's mind. One purifies one's mind of delusiveness by taking three steps, which are receiving the teachings by hearing them, contemplating the teachings so that one can seriously take them to heart, and meditating them. This is not easy. Even though it's not easy, one can appreciate that at this stage in one's life one has encountered this specific treatise, which is the first step. One should be grateful that one has incorporated it in one's stream of consciousness and be confident that one will gain certainty of its meaning. Seeing we have all come from afar, let us approach the instructions on The Summary of Mahamudra written by Khenchen Naropa in this way.

The Mahamudra Oral Transmission was written down for the benefit of future generations. It teaches the true nature of all appearances and experiences when perceived free of delusiveness and confusion that arise from clinging to appearances and experiences. Having untainted trust, correct understanding, and gaining certainty of the true nature of everything that appears is very hard to acquire. Beginners have great difficulties and cannot suddenly appreciate and acknowledge that no phenomenon can really be defined, since nothing has inherent existence as such. The true nature of all phenomena, i.e., appearances and experiences, just doesn't coincide with one's mode of apprehension.

Let us look at the word "Mahamudra," the Sanskrit term that was translated into Tibetan as phyag-rgya-chen-po. Maha is chen-po in Tibetan and means "great." Mudra is phyag and means "signature." rGya is the honorific syllable used when addressing persons or topics worthy of highest respect. The Mahamudra teachings are presented in stages so that one comes to realize its ultimate meaning. But what does phyag, "signature," mean? For example, if a letter is written by a representative of Karma Lekshey Ling Institute and given to the Gyalwa Karmapa to sign and seal, this letter will carry much more weight - it would be taken seriously and respected by many people. Do note that the word "seal" is also relevant in the connotation of the term Mudra. The meaning of phyag-rgya concerns us too, since we want to realize it. But one's mind is preoccupied with samsara and nirvana. Mahamudra speaks about the true nature of both. Since all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas signed and sealed these instructions, one is free to trust that it is possible to overcome one's erroneous apprehensions of samsara and nirvana and realize their true nature. So, that is the meaning of the term Mahamudra.

There are four main philosophical schools of Buddhism that differ in dependence upon their varying views. The two schools of Hinayana are Vaibhasika and Sautrantika; the two schools of Mahayana are Cittamatra and Madhyamaka. The Kagyü School calls the final and ultimate view "Mahamudra," which surmounts - while including - all four Buddhist schools. Nowadays, science is seen in a similar fashion, and the academic approach resembles beliefs that are held in the first Buddhist schools. The 2,000 year-old, recorded views of Vaibhasikas and Sautrantikas are actually the same as those held by modern scientists, who see with the help of microscopes that objects are composed of tiniest particles, which they claim truly exist. I saw a movie recently that tried to prove that these tiniest particles are located in a specific spot and are not connected with each other. For example, looking at the piece of paper I am holding in my hand, the way it appears to one's visual perception accords with modern scientific discoveries and not with the way the piece of paper really is. Can you believe this? The view of Mahamudra is much higher. Maybe we should make many wishing prayers and accumulate the merit to see things as they really are and not as they appear to be.

Cittamatra followers say that all appearances in the world, even this piece of paper, are created by the mind - that is what they say. Can you believe that everything was created by your mind? Sure! But these days, scientists are also saying the same thing. Many famous scientists made a nine-hour movie recently - I only watched two hours, because I had no time. They seem to be heading towards the Cittamatra view, sems-tsam-pa in Tibetan, which means "Mind-only School." The scientists who made this movie didn't believe in anything that came near the view of the Mind-only School a few years ago, but advanced technology now enables them to see what they refused believing so far. In fact, we, too, only believe what we see. We believe that a paper mill in Germany made the piece of paper I am holding in my hand or we deny this. If we continue practicing Buddhism, I think that one day we will surely recognize for ourselves the truth of reality. Until then, there is no way to bypass belief.

The lower stages of Buddhism are not phyag-rgya-chen-po, Mahamudra. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas did not sign and seal the views of the first Buddhist schools as final, because these teachings address initial experiences that every ordinary person has. We will be looking at the final view here. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have signed the final view with the seal and have certified, "That's all." I hope that we believe it and that western Rinpoches, who are the scientists in today's society, will also discover the ultimate view - then everyone will believe it. If scientists in the West say, "yes," then everyone reiterates their words; if scientists say, "no," then everyone says, "no." In Buddhism, if the Buddha said something, then we say, "yes, yes, yes" - entschuldigung, "sorry." Better to follow the Buddha.

Five steps are presented in The Summary of Mahamudra. The five steps are: phyag-rgya-chen-po'i-lta-ba, phyag-rgya-chen-po'i-sgom, phyag-rgya-chen-po'i-spyöd-pa, phyag-rgya-chen-po'i-ü˜bräs-bu, and the last is Widmung,  phyag-rgya-chen-po'i-bsno-ba. The first is the view of Mahamudra, the second is the meditation of Mahamudra, the third is the activity of Mahamudra, the fourth is fruition of Mahamudra, and the fifth is dedication. Before speaking about these high things, I prefer to tell a little bit about normal lta-ba, sgom-pa, spyöd-pa - view, meditation, and activity. Of course, I have to talk about Mahamudra, because all of you came here for this reason, but ich auch weiss nicht, "I don't know either."

I want to give a short teaching that Lha-je Gampopa presented on lta-ba, sgom-pa, spyöd-pa. It's only short and deals with karma, "cause and result," and one is free to believe it. Ches-pa is "to believe" or "to trust." In this short teaching, Gampopa spoke about believing and trusting the law of cause and effect. He showed that there are three types of trust: good, better, and best. A good view for us is to trust in karma - I hope we all have that view. The better view is seeing all phenomena like a rainbow or dream. I think everyone has experienced rainbows, so I always bring this example. We can see a rainbow, but nobody can catch it. Maybe you think you can hold on to it when you click on your camera. We know that a rainbow is just snang-ba, "an appearance," and is not real. If we see all phenomena like we see a rainbow, then that's the better view. So, where are we now, in good or in better? We must check where we are. If we aren't in good, then best is very far away, because we are still on the first level. We will talk about our view later, which is the best. Of course, I have to talk about it, even though I don't know, because it was announced in the Einladung, "the invitation."

So, there are three kinds of view: good, better, and best. Good and better are almost enough for me. I am making many wishing prayers to have the best view and dedicate any merit I am able to accumulate to realize the best view as soon as possible.

Meditation is also good, better, and best. Good, better, best, never let it rest. Till good is better, the better best. Actually, a German lady taught me that: "Good, better, best, never let it rest. Till good is better, the better best." So, we have to try. We should go from better to best. Good must make the better, and better must make the best. Let's go to meditation.

Good meditation is shamata, "tranquillity meditation" - if we can sit 10 hours, 20 hours, 40 hours. Too much? Five hours is enough? Sitting with one-pointed attention without following after thoughts is good shamata. Maybe one day, two days - if you can, that's good. I think 5 or 15 minutes are just practice. Let's see which level of meditation we have accomplished. We're going to talk about the best, so be ready.

Better meditation is keeping one's mind on the view that all phenomena are like a rainbow, or like a reflection of the moon on the surface of a pool of water, or like a T.V. show, in which many things happen while nothing is real. If one remains aware of that, then that's better.

It's necessary and very important to know the view before one meditates, because one meditates on the view. If one integrates the practice of meditation in one's life, then one will see the real view. Yet, I can say that just knowing the view is better than nothing. What do you say, something is better than nothing? Anyway, we can say whatever we like. But, one will never realize the view in one's heart or experience it by just knowing and not meditating on it. For example, I studied the view a lot and know that the better view is emptiness, but my regular mind is nyams-len-med-pa, "bereft of meditative experience." For instance, if someone stole something I didn't like anyway, then it would be easy for me to see that it's nothing. But if somebody stole my money, then I think I'd run after him. The problem is: We just know but don't meditate. And so for that I'm trying to make my good view better. And I hope to perfect better and pray that it will turn into the best. We will look at best meditation, too. Good activities, spyöd-pa, are also divided into good, better, and best.

Lha-je Gampopa tells us to be vorsichtig, "careful," about karma and to guard our karma just as attentively as we guard our eyes. I think all of you have experienced a windy storm and remember how you dropped things you were holding in order to protect your body. And the first part of one's body that one protects is one's head. And the first part of one's head that one protects from the cold wind is one's eyes. In the same manner, one needs to be just as attentive of cause and effect as one is of one's eyes. That's good activity for a practitioner. Taking care of one's karma is good. What is better?

As it is, one cannot recognize that dreams are dreams while one is dreaming, so it's a bit difficult to engage in activities that are better than good. There are many magicians in India, but I haven't seen any in the West. Magicians are in circuses? Yes? Then I can use this example. If a magician has a bunch of fake 500.- Euro bills, he would know that the bunch is not real and wouldn't be attached to it. If a thief saw the bundle, maybe he would try to steal it from the magician. Having the better view means seeing all phenomena as a dream or like a magic show. Of course, a magician needs to live, so he eats when he is hungry and lays down in his bed when it's time for him to sleep, but he deals with everything like he does in his show. So, that's the better quality of activities. We will talk about best activities, too.

I do not realize Mahamudra, but I can read the treatise and speak about what I know. Those of you who are really interested and have confidence in these teachings are free to focus your attention on accomplishing the Mahamudra view, meditation, and activities. When I engage in Dharma activities, I do hope to accumulate merit by doing good things and therefore I make aspiration prayers and offer dedication prayers so that everyone quickly accomplishes the best level that was sealed by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. It is said that if one realizes the best view, one instantaneously becomes just like a Buddha. But, ich weiss nicht. Was kann man tun? "I don't know. What can one do?"

His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche said on a tape that I heard that if there were a cave in which the sun never shone for billions of centuries, maybe in Greenland - that's too much -, let's say for many, many years and someone lit a torch, the cave would suddenly be illuminated. It doesn't take billions of centuries to light a torch or switch on a flashlight. It's the same as realizing the best view.

In short, Lha-je Gampopa taught that practitioners need three things: to increase their practice, to diminish their self-cherishing, and to reduce their emotions, i.e., to have more and more practice, less and less self-cherishing, and less and less emotions. One needs to know and practice the path. For instance, if one plans to go to Berlin but heads for England, it's not good. In the same way, if one practices but one's ego and emotions increase, it's like heading for England while hoping to arrive in Berlin. Jetsün Milarepa once asked a practitioner, "The Buddha presented teachings so that disciples reduce their ego-clinging and emotions, but these days who has achieved this goal?" I think it's very good to remember this. It wasn't really a question, so one is free to say either, "yes" or "no."

An Explanation of the Text

We discussed the term Mahamudra and saw that it means "signature, sealed." Compassion is the skilful means to win trust and integrate the meaning of Mahamudra in one's mind stream. Let's look at our own life to understand this.

We can remember when we were 7, 8, or 9 years old until now. I don't really remember those times, because I don't know if I was there or not. Sometimes I forget what I did yesterday, but I'm sure I was there. Looking back to when I learned to write "a, b, c" at school, I remember having been very happy and felt, "Nobody can write better than me." A few years later, my handwriting looked different. I liked to play with small things when I was 12 and things were very important for me. When I got older, they meant nothing to me. We didn't have a computer when I came to Karma Lekshey Ling in Nepal, so I wrote many short books by hand and felt, "Oh, how nice." I showed them to other people and was proud of myself, but when I see those pages now, I feel very shy, because the handwriting isn't good and there are spelling mistakes that I didn't see then. Of course, I still think that what I do is the best, but am sure that I will again feel shy in a few years about what I'm doing now. We can only believe what we see and therefore we think in the present moment, but it's not the final way. In the same vein, I think that when one recognizes Mahamudra some day, one will feel just as enthralled as I did when I was playing with marbles as a child.

Mahamudra consists of lta-ba, sgom-pa, spyöd-pa, ü˜bräs-bu, and bsno-ba, i.e., "view, meditation, activities, fruition, and dedication." The purpose of practice is to gain the view of Mahamudra that all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas signed and sealed as the final view. As long as one has not ascertained the ultimate view, it's necessary to develop mös-pa and güs-pa, "faith and devotion," to be careful of re-ba-chäd, "never giving up hope," and smön-lam-btab-pa, "to make aspiration prayers" that one will ascertain the view completely in the future.

The title

The Sanskrit title of The Summary of Mahamudra is "Mahamudra-Sanyatamitha." It was translated into Tibetan as Phyag-rgya-chen-po'i-tshig-bsdüs-pa.

The homage

The treatise commences with the homage that is:

"Homage to Great Bliss."

In this short line, Naropa respected the traditional way of paying homage. Most texts commence with a homage either to the Three Jewels or to the Three Roots. In this treatise, the object of homage is "great bliss," bde-chen. Why? When one realizes the ultimate view, then one will have attained great bliss. And so, homage is paid to the goal that disciples aspire to reach, which is to realize the true nature of their own mind as well as that of all things.

The view

The first verse describes the view, lta-ba, and is:

"Mahamudra is knowing that all things are one's own mind.

Seeing objects as external is just noetic projection.

The whole of appearance is as empty as a dream."

As long as one has not attained the goal, one needs to develop faith and trust in the ultimate view, which is that both outer appearances and inner experiences are only one's mind. Outer appearances are all things that can be apprehended with one's faculties, i.e., forms that can be seen with one's eyes, scents that can be smelled with one's nose, sounds that can be heard with one's ears, tastes that can be tasted with one's tongue, textures that can be felt with one's body, and thoughts that can be conceived with one's mind. One apprehends outer objects with one's mind and clings to them as true existents. But are they really the way one thinks they are? No, they aren't. Phenomena only appear the way they do in dependence upon one's habitual way of seeing things as though they are real, just like one mistakenly perceives dreams as real while dreaming.

It's hard to have confidence in the means to overcome one's erroneous view that appearances aren't the way one perceives them and thinks they are. As it is, one takes for granted that a watch is a watch, a microphone is a microphone, and a bowl is a bowl and therefore habitually clings to them as real. The final view and seal of Mahamudra is that all outer and inner phenomena that appear to us have no true reality. Actually, I can't say "for us," but can only speak for myself, because I don't know if some of you have the highest view. It's even a bit difficult for me to have direct confidence in the ultimate view, because, for example, I like the watch that I see on my wrist and want to keep it. But this watch is only relevant for the person who has the habit of thinking that it's real and clings to it. Let me tell the story about the fan for a cow that a monk in my group once told.

While accompanying Lama Phuntsok and 5 or 6 monks on my first tip to Germany in 1999, we took the train from Munich to Berlin. On the way we saw many fans in the fields. We really wondered, "What's that?" and couldn't figure it out. One of our monks, who is quite tricky, said, "Oh, Germany is a very rich country, so there are many cows in the fields. It gets very hot for them in the summer, so those are fans to cool the cows." We knew that windmills existed, but we only saw the fans. We hadn't created that kind of bag-chags, "habitual pattern," in our mind up and until then, so we didn't understand what we saw. This shows that - even though we can't believe it's true - we can only perceive phenomena that we have already created in our mind. Everyone in this room sees that the watch on my wrist is a watch, and yet nobody has the same mind.

Explained differently, we are all born as human beings, because we had the karma to be born as a human being, i.e., we are similar because we have specific karma in common. This is why many human beings discern things in the same way, like the tankha, the pillar, Kamalashila Institute, etc., but one cannot say it applies to all human beings. As long as one has specific karma to be a human being, one sees specific appearances. When one's karma is exhausted to see the pillar as a pillar, for example, then one can't see the pillar as one does now. For instance, some people can be born as a bird or insect in their next life and then don't see the pillar as a pillar. Maybe they will make their nest on the pillar and experience it as their home. I'm sure they won't see the pillar like humans do. Only those who have specific mutual karma will see a similar place as their home. In any case, human beings cannot see the pillar as their home. Do you get the point? Kann sein, kann auch nicht sein, "Maybe - maybe not."

Another example is sunglasses. The sun shines brightly in India, so I wear changeable glasses when I am there. One day in Sikkim I went shopping for cloth to make robes and my changeable glasses stayed dark in the shop. I forgot to take them off and the red cloth that I wanted to buy really looked nice. I bought it and saw that it wasn't the colour I wanted when I was home. So, vorsichtig, "careful," when you buy cloth. And it's not the fault of the cloth that it wasn't the colour I wanted. If I look at white snow while wearing my tainted sunglasses, then the snow will not appear white to me. There is a joke told in India: One day a shepherd mowed the grass while wearing green-tainted sunglasses, gave the grass to his cow to eat, but it refused, because the grass was actually grey. To make his cow eat the grass, the shepherd put his sunglasses on the cow's head. I don't know if it's true, but then the cow ate the grey grass. The moral of these stories is that the tainted glasses are one's own karma. Right now we are human beings and have a human mind with which we see a pillar, friends, something terrible, or uncountable things in the world. When our karma is exhausted and our human life is spent, i.e., when we take off the tainted sunglasses, then we don't see in the same way as we do now.

The view of Mahamudra is that there is no birth and death. I was born in 1974, don't know how long I will live, but I'm sure that I will die - 100% certain. We see that things are born and cease, but Mahamudra teaches that nothing is ever born or ends. We cannot believe this, because we do not realize Mahamudra and can only believe what we see. We see that water quenches our thirst and food stills our hunger. It's hard believing anything that we don't see. I'm sure all of you have experience wearing tainted sunglasses and know that it's possible to see green, red, or blue snow. Let's contemplate and meditate where the red, green, or blue snow comes from. Does the red, green, or blue snow arise and does it cease? - - - So, did you find where the red snow comes from? Where? Of course, we have to say from the tainted glass, or?

Participant: The snow melted into water after I discovered that it was tainted because of the sunglasses, and it went on and on.

Khenpo: You did a lot. Of course, the snow is melting very fast due to global warming. There's no more chance to see red Schnee, "snow," so you must go to the Himalaya. Seeing red snow depends upon the glasses. If you take off the glasses, then there is no more red Schnee. That's an outer example. Without tainted glasses, one sees many colourful things and many different forms and shapes, especially when one goes to the market. And so, all appearances arise from one's own mind.

There is no ultimate truth to appearances, and that is the view of Mahamudra. If one can realize this view, then it's best. Yet, one sees whatever one sees at the moment with one's deluded and confused mind, ü˜khrul-pa'i-blo. But don't be upset that your mind is confused.

The traditional texts present the example of people suffering from jaundice, which comes to the point. I want to talk a little bit about that. For example, if my brother has jaundice, he can only see yellow snow. But he will not find a single word in a book, like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, that speaks about yellow snow, because everyone will have written that snow is white. His friends, family, and doctor will all tell him that snow is not yellow but white and he will believe them - I hope so. There's only one method for him to be able to see white snow and it's to be healed of jaundice. Likewise, the texts state that all appearances are emptiness, which is what I'm trying to talk about here. I also heard a lot from Dharma teachers that all appearances are emptiness. Now, I trust them 90%. Should I trust them 100%, I would see emptiness. There is a very knowledgeable master from Tibet who said that when he meditates, then he is convinced that everything is emptiness, but when he puts his hand on a needle, then there is no emptiness anymore and he feels pain. When a patient is healed of jaundice after having received medical treatment, he will see white snow. Likewise, when one's karma and kleshas, "disturbing emotions," are relinquished, one will directly see emptiness. It's best to contemplate these teachings through examples, because one doesn't really know. Compared with examples, one can ask oneself, "Will it come true that I will know or not?" Just think about it a little bit.

Another example: Of course, everyone gets angry once in a while - me too. Maybe there are people who were never angry in their whole life. What kind of appearances arise in one's mind when one is angry? When some people get angry, the person they are angry with looks very small and they think that he will fall down like a football if they kick him. Some people think like this when they are furious. And when they cool down, they again see the person they were angry at the same size as before. Think about it. Are there true appearances or not?

Like Anhaftung, "attachment." Last year I had a problem with my handy, went to the market, and saw mobiles everywhere I looked. Actually, I go to the same market every few days and never noticed mobiles until my mind was focused on buying a new one. Actually, the new handy I bought caused lots of problems. I could put my old handy anywhere, because I didn't care if somebody stole it. But if I kept my new handy in my room and left, I had to lock my door - I thought a thief would come. In the meantime, I'm getting used to my mobile and can put it wherever I like - not 100%, but almost. I can see many more options now than when I searched far and wide to find the one I have, another sign of my Anhaftung-mind. So, one can look at appearances when one has Anhaftung, "attachment," and when one doesn't have Anhaftung one can ask oneself, "What is the difference in the appearance?" Actually, sometimes one sees one and the same object as important or not important, which doesn't come from the side of the object, rather from the inside. If one understands these examples, one can learn to acknowledge and appreciate the significance of the Buddha's and Bodhisattva's teachings and will come closer and closer to what is taught - that all appearances are emptiness and are apprehended like visions in dreams.

From among the three aspects of Mahamudra - view, meditation, and activities - knowing the view is very important. If one has a good view, one's meditation and activities will automatically follow the view. If one doesn't know the good view, then it's difficult.

Two main views prevailed in India before Lord Buddha turned the Wheel of Dharma and still are held by non-Buddhists today; they are the beliefs that nothing is there or that things exist forever. The first extreme view held by non-Buddhists worldwide is believing in what we will call "nothing," i.e., denying fruition, denying cause and effect. The second extreme view held by non-Buddhists is believing in permanence, for example, believing in a permanent god or creator who made living beings and all things. Buddhism lies in the middle of these two extreme views, so we must walk the middle-way.

I pointed to three kinds of Buddhist views. Better and best are slightly similar. I will speak about the best view later. Again, if one knows the view, one can mediate on it, and then one's activities will naturally accord with the view. Are there any questions?

Question:  What can we do?

Khenpo:  Ich weiss nicht. "I don't know."

Same student:  It's not enough to state that the texts say that the piece of paper is empty and to stop there?

Khenpo:  I must be thinking like you. Actually, it's the better view, and if one can directly have it, then it would be very good. But it's rather hard to realize it in one's heart. I don't think that just knowing the view will help anyone see emptiness. If you meditate on that view for a long time, I hope that slowly you will realize it. Actually, the Buddha didn't teach the better and best view to disciples from the start. He first presented the good view, then the better view, and lastly he taught the best view. He saw that it wasn't useful telling everything to his disciples from the start, rather he taught step-by-step, making it easier for students to realize the best view. Meditation of the good view is usually shamata, "tranquillity meditation," and the activities are Hinayana practices, which one must also practice. Then one will reach the better view, be able to meditate and practice it by engaging in the activities of a Bodhisattva, as described in The Bodhicharyavatara by Shantideva. If one meditates and carries these activities out, one will be reaching out to the best view and will realize what is taught in the treatise, The Summary of Mahamudra. That's why I spoke about Panchen Naropa, that he had already accomplished the good and better views and attained the best view after having become a disciple of Tilopa. Naropa did whatever Tilopa told him to do. I don't think that a teacher can ask pupils to emulate Naropa in the West, otherwise the police will throw him into jail. Are you acquainted with the stories of Tilopa and Naropa? To be honest, there is no sense in copying them. At the end, Tilopa hit Naropa on the head with his sandal and as a result Naropa attained ultimate realization. For example, of course you might reach your goal faster if you drive your car in the opposite direction down one-way streets, but you would get lots of tickets. You would also get a ticket if you crossed the street at a red light. It's a problem. I don't drive, but am informed about the rules and regulations. The ultimate view and final destination in the Kagyü Lineage is phyag-rgya-chen-po. There are many ways to get there. I prefer driving slowly and safely in order to reach this destination.

The first verse of The Summary of Mahamudra tells us:

"Mahamudra is knowing that all things are one's own mind.

Seeing objects as external is just noetic projection.

The whole of appearance is as empty as a dream."

Lotsawa Marpa gave the same Mahamudra instructions to his disciple Jetsün Milarepa when he said: "All appearances are mind. Mind is emptiness. Emptiness is dependent arising. Dependent arising is spontaneous."

A good image to exemplify that appearances are mind is dreams, the reason Panchen Naropa chose this example. I assume that many of you have heard the teachings that present the example of dreams and hope that some of you realize that all appearances are just like a Traum, "a dream." Nevertheless, you cannot know about my dream experiences, so I will tell you a dream I once had.

We are all certain that dream-appearances are not real and are empty of own existence, aren't we? But how can we know that dream-appearances are created by our mind and that, likewise, outer appearances perceived while awake are like dreams? Dreams one has while asleep consist of memories from one's past or present life. Some dreams are strange, because one sees things one never encountered in this life. As to memories from this life, for example, we drove from Hamburg to Kamalashila Institute in a van, so that night I dreamt that I was on the road. Everyone knows that dream-appearances are not real, even though they are seen. It is taught that appearances in a dream are habitual patterns that are stored in one's all-ground consciousness. As long as one has many habits stored in one's ground consciousness, one will continue dreaming while asleep and mistakenly think that the things one sees in a dream while one is dreaming are real. Of course, when awake one realizes it was only a dream. Yet, one doesn't realize that all appearances while awake are also like dream-appearances and continues clinging to the erroneous view that they are real.

About 5 or 6 years ago, I dreamt a few times about a small village located along a hill. I studied in South India around 2001 and travelled to a village that looked exactly like the one I had seen in my dreams, which really astounded me. I don't know why this village appeared in my dream prior to having seen it in life. Was it showing my future? That's only a joke. Anyhow, I'm sure that there is a habit stored in my ground consciousness to see the village in my dream the way I did. In the same manner, all appearances that have no outer reality arise in one's mind due to one's habits. If one realizes this, then one has realized the view of Mahamudra, which is that all appearances are one's own mind. Many examples are presented in the teachings - like dreams and magic shows. These examples make it easier to understand that appearances are emptiness than just saying that mind is emptiness.

The second verse in The Summary of Mahamudra speaks about rig-pa, "awareness," and states: snang-ba-rig-pa, sems-tsam-stong-pa-nyid, i.e., "appearances are awareness, and the mind is only emptiness." The verse in the treatise is:

"The mind as such is merely a flow of awareness, without self-nature, moving due to its energy-wind.

Empty of an identity, it is like space.

All phenomena, like space, are the same."

One can understand that appearances are empty of inherent existence, i.e., are emptiness. But understanding that the mind is emptiness is rather difficult. One does know that one's mind is inside one's body, but is not the body itself. It's not easy describing that the mind is emptiness through examples, since the mind has no form or colour. As written in the second verse, mind is "a flow of awareness," i.e., mental activities, which include memories. If one investigates what the mind is, one will only find its functions, but one will never find mind itself, just like one will never catch spoken words that manifest through language usage. One will never find a corporeal form that one could identify as being the mind, because it is empty of an identity. And so, one can only be confused.

We learn that the mind's essence is emptiness and that it therefore manifests in connection with one's body through its energy-force, also translated as "vital energy" or "wind," rlung in Tibetan. Cittamtra adherents say that all outer phenomena are empty of inherent existence and are created by one's own mind, but they claim that the mind truly exists. Madhyamaka and Mahamudra proponents teach that mind is emptiness, i.e., is empty of inherent existence and therefore does not truly exist. It's more than hard crossing the bridge from the belief of a Cittamatrin to the insight of a Madhyamika. It's really hard to have confidence in the fact that one's mind is emptiness and doesn't truly exist. But one can investigate and slowly approach the view that one's mind, too, is empty of inherent existence.

As it is, one apprehends a subject in reliance upon having apprehended an outer phenomenon. Cittamatra followers say that outer phenomena are empty, but the apprehending mind is an entity that truly exists. But the mind that apprehends objects is dependent upon apprehensions and therefore does not exist as an independent entity. How can the apprehending mind be unique if the objects of apprehension that determine it aren't? Furthermore, nobody has caught the mind; nobody has made a photo of it that can be shown to others. It's rather hard to win confidence in the teaching that the mind is empty, seeing one can remember things and work with one's mind. In fact, how can anyone say that there is no mind?

It is very helpful that Panchen Naropa offered the example of dreams when he spoke about the emptiness of phenomena, seeing that everyone has dream-experiences and can therefore better understand in which way appearances are just as illusory as dreams. When he taught about mind's emptiness, he offered the example of the sky. One can try to point at the sky, but one will look at the tip of one's finger when one does. I don't know where to point my finger when I want to point at the sky, because it's not possible. The same with the mind. Some people point to their head and claim that their mind is located there, while others point to their hearts and claim that it's there. Specific Dzogchen practices are taught so that students find their mind. I don't know what kind of mind they will find should they succeed.

The mind's essence is not what one thinks it is. Mind's essence is emptiness. If one trusts this fact, I think that's enough. Of course, this is the best view. I remember one example I want to share with you. I can see this piece of paper, i.e., I have the mind that is looking at it. If there is no paper, then there will be no 'dzin-kyi-shes-pa, "grasping, conscious mind" of the paper. So the Madhyamikas ask the Cittamatrins, "How can there be a mind if there is no appearance?" Did some of you understand? A little bit? As long as one is looking at a piece of paper, one can say that one has a paper-ü˜dzin-kyi-rnam-par-shes-pa. I'm sure it's a bit complicating, because everyone says, "Mind, mind, mind, mind," and after a while they say, "No mind, no mind, no mind." It's not my fault, and yet it's our own fault. Had we realized the meaning, then we would have no doubts.

During the times of Buddha Shakyamuni, there were many views in India - that the world was created by a god and so forth. The Buddha saw that people were creating much karma as a result. He therefore taught that all phenomena are created by one's own mind. It seems to be similar to situations in which mother's give their children toys to play with in order to stop them from crying. I think they will play with the toys for 10 or 15 minutes and then cry again. The example presented in Buddhist philosophy to illustrate mind's emptiness is two hills - one hill on this side, and one hill on the other side. If there is only one hill, then the one said to be on this side cannot be called "this" hill. Madhyamaka philosophers argue that imputations are only made in dependence upon referential objects that are seen in relationship to other things, for example, "this" and "that." Having realized that objects are emptiness, as asserted by Cittamatrins, Madhyamikas take it a step further and prove that the mind that apprehends is also emptiness, since subject and object depend upon what is imputed as "other." Where are we now? I think that in order to experientially realize the true view, one needs to accumulate much merit and purify lots of disturbing emotions and one's delusiveness.

So, the view that all appearances are emptiness and like a dream and that one's own mind is emptiness and like space is the ultimate view and leads to the Mahamudra "great view of unity," zung-ü˜jug-ki-lta-ba-chen-po, which was sealed by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

The third verse in The Summary of Mahamudra is:

"There is no definition of the essence of Mahamudra.

It is the mind's own nature, just as it is."

This verse speaks of the union of appearances and emptiness, zung-ü˜jug. Nobody can ever point to the mind, since the mind is emptiness. But, the mind is unimpeded and therefore appears in various ways. Mind's essence is empty and it's nature is clarity. When a practitioner has realized the way the mind is, i.e., that it is the union of emptiness and clarity, then he or she will have attained the great view of Mahamudra.

In order to approach the great view of Mahamudra, one needs to accumulate much merit, practice diligently, make wishing prayers, and dedicate any merit one has been able to accumulate so that one will realize the indivisibility of mind's empty essence and lucid nature. Furthermore, one needs both the blessings of one's Lama and unwavering devotion, otherwise one won't be inspired to purify one's negativities and establish positive qualities in one's life. As long as one doesn't understand the view by practicing and meditating, one has the possibility to accumulate positive merit and purify one's delusiveness. If one knows that all outer appearances as well as one's mind are emptiness and that one's mind appears clearly and free of any mental fabrications, then one has attained the view of Mahamudra. One needs to realize this view if one wishes to transcend delusiveness that marks samsara. If you have any questions, please ask.

Questions & Answers

Question: I think it's important to not only say that mind is emptiness, but that mind is empty of true existence so that one doesn't fall into nihilism. It might be easier to understand.

Khenpo: The third point of Mahamudra teaches the unity of appearances and emptiness. Since opponents believe that appearances and mind truly exist, it's important to understand that appearances arise from the mind. But then, some people believe that the mind truly exists and cling to it as real, so the next step is to understand that the mind is emptiness. One can cling to this view, too, so it's taught that appearances are the clear manifestation of the mind. Sutrayana followers engage in ethical behaviour and practice shamata, "tranquillity meditation," which will enable them to understand the unity of Mahamudra in the future. Vajrayana followers practice Ngöndro and purify their negativities in order to eventually attain the view of great bliss.

Question: These teachings are often explained in terms of absolute and relative truths. Interdependence explains the relative level, and the view that nothing is established is taught with regard to the ultimate level. How does this relate with Naropa's treatise?

Khenpo: Three views are presented in The Summary of Mahamudra, appearance and awareness of Mahamudra being the first two. I think that the main point is zung-ü˜jug-phyag-rgya-chen-po, "Mahamudra of their unity," the third. Every view is the final view, i.e., emptiness of appearances is the final view of Mahamudra, awareness of mind's emptiness is the final view of Mahamudra, and their unity is also the final view of Mahamudra. The view that the mind's essence is ineffable can be realized. And the essence of the mind is ngo-bo-bstän-du-med, i.e., "it cannot be demonstrated."

Same student: The sun is shining.

Khenpo: Oh, very good.

Question: I heard and read that the explanation of matter also depends upon whether one sees it as merely matter or as energy. Isn't it the same with the mind, i.e., at one point you can talk about its empty quality and clarity. Doesn't that imply that one can say something about mind's essence? Isn't that a way of talking about the essence in order to come closer to it, or is it only possible to realize the mind through meditation?

Khenpo: I think so. Even the Buddha would twist his tongue talking about this. Wishing prayers will not really help in the long run, rather only daily practice is decisive. We do know that mind has no physical form. It's already very good to understand that mind is empty and clear. One is confused and continues experiencing samsara, because one clings to outer appearances and one's inner mind. The force and impact of clinging to outer appearances will diminish if one understands that appearances are like a dream, which is already a big step. Clinging to one's inner mind is an impediment for those persons who aspire to attain realization of the stages of the path. Believing that there is no mind is also a mistaken view and impediment. Fully realizing that mind's essence neither exists nor doesn't not exist is Mahamudra. Realizing that mind naturally abides free of the extremes of existence and non-existence is realization of great bliss. It's impossible to achieve great bliss unless one has realized mind's natural state. Until then, it's very good to purify one's negativities and accumulate merit.

If we practice the view, then it's very, very good. Of course, I make wishing prayers to realize the view. My daily practice is good. But I have to talk about all three levels, because that's the subject of this seminar. Even if I don't know, I have to talk. I don't think it's possible to teach satisfactorily if one has only learned and studied, which would resemble telling stories about pies in the sky. For example, it wasn't easy for me to believe the Buddha's teachings on karma and emptiness when I first heard them. Through practice, one day one will believe and realize these teachings 100%. For example, I was born in the Himalayas and never saw India when I was young. People told me that India is a vast plain. It was hard for me to understand this as a child, because in my village there isn't even enough space to build a football field.  When I travelled to India and saw this for myself, then I knew and didn't have to believe what others had told me anymore. If one practices and realizes the view for oneself, then there's no way not to believe. I hope that we all believe the view very soon.

Summary: There are lta-ba, sgom-pa, spyöd-pa, ü˜bräs-bu, and bsngo-ba, i.e., view, meditation, activities, fruition, and dedication of Mahamudra. We discussed the best view, which was described by Lha-je Gampopa in a few words. They are: "The best view is seeing the indivisibility of the three concepts of subject, object, and action," ü˜khor-gsum. As long as the ultimate view of actually seeing the unity of  "the three spheres" has not been realized, the ultimate view will not have been attained. Mahamudra of meditation will be perfected when the indivisibility of the emptiness of the three spheres has been realized. As this stage, though, subject, object, and action are discussed, reflected, and meditated upon separately, and - as long as this is necessarily so - the natural state of Mahamudra will not have been achieved.

Activities and meditation

The same principle applies for Mahamudra of activities. One usually thinks that one needs to do something or that one needs to refrain from doing something. The highest level of Mahamudra of activities will not be perfected until one has stopped differentiating and conceptualising what needs to be adopted or rejected, thus separating the one from the other and living in a state of dividedness.

Thinking one doesn't need to do anything is certainly missing the point. Thinking one needs to do something when one doesn't is also missing the point. For example, it isn't necessary to continuously look inside the empty bowl on the table in order to be convinced that there is nothing inside of it. If one realizes one's natural state, then one doesn't need to reject anything, i.e., if one realizes that all appearances and experiences are empty, one doesn't need to check and check again and again. But, as long as one hasn't realized Mahamudra fully, one has to practice - make prostrations, fill the offering bowls on one's shrine with water, light incense, circumambulate Stupas, and so forth. If one truly realizes the ultimate state, then there is nothing to do, because one has realized that there is nobody doing something. Another example for being stuck: If one has learned the "a, b, c," then there is no need to learn it again. When one has realized Mahamudra, one doesn't need to exert oneself anymore. I think it's something like that. I hope these examples helped you.

The verse is:

"Whoever has understood suchness is not bound.

Resting in any other state is called either ü˜meditation' or ü˜non-meditation.'

It doesn't arise through the use of fabricated techniques like meditating or not meditating."

Let's look at this by taking an example: When one sees a shadow in the dark of the night, one can think it's a stranger and be frightened. Eastern people have lots of habits that cause them to believe that ghosts appear in the night, so they are afraid to go outside after dark. I think that the parents create this habit in a child in order to stop them from going outside after the sun has set and as a result people are scared of ghosts their whole life. Eastern people cannot go near a graveyard either, but here some people even like taking walks through cemeteries. Again we see that appearances are created by one's own mind. Lama Kunzang once told me that he and a group of friends had to walk up and down a mountain to get where they wanted to go, and one late evening they saw something that looked like a man standing still, which is unusual at that time of the night. They even thought the man moved a bit and so they decided it was a ghost. They were terribly scared, refused walking past what they thought was a ghost, and had to spend the night somewhere else. The next morning they set out again and saw that the object they had feared was a tree. From that day on, they were 100% sure that the image they continued having to pass was not a ghost. In the same way, if one has realized the nature of all things, then one doesn't need to do anything in order to realize it anymore, and that is spyöd-pa-chen-po.

A practitioner who has realized the final level of Mahamudra activities does not meditate or not meditate, because for him there is no path and no destination anymore. For us, though, it is necessary to realize the essence of Mahamudra and therefore we need to practice. A previous Gyalwa Karmapa warned that if those people who haven't realized Mahamudra do nothing and simply reiterate, "Everything is empty," then they go down, down, down - so vorsicht, "careful." Those individuals who have never even heard the word "Mahamudra" but heed karma go up, up, up. Doing and not doing are not a concern for someone who has realized Mahamudra, but for others it is. If one recognizes the essence of dharma and dharmata, chös-dang-chös-nyid in Tibetan, then there is nothing left that keeps one entangled in samsara. But, in the absence of realization, things happen. There is the big "if" - na in Tibetan - that one must remember. "If" one engages in Mahamudra activities, one needn't do anything. But "if" one doesn't engage in Mahamudra activities, then one must do the opposite, which is lots of things - very easy. In Tibetan it is de-ni-rtogs-na, "as for that, if one has realized." Again it's important to remember the big "if."


The verse in The Summary of Mahamudra is:

"Nothing whatsoever truly exists.

Appearances are self-liberated in the ultimate realm of Dharmadhatu.

Concepts are self-liberated as primordial wisdom.

Non-duality is realization of the changeless Dharmakaya."

In Mahamudra there is nothing to acquire or show at fruition. We saw that all apprehensions of the outer world as well as of the inner, apprehending mind are emptiness. When practitioners have seen and realized the nature of all outer things and inner experiences, then they are naturally liberated, which is fruition. When one has realized outer and inner emptiness, then all thoughts that are mere contrivances manifest as timeless, primordial wisdom, ye-shes.

Non-duality, gnyis-med, is subsumed in the short verse: "Appearances are emptiness, emptiness is appearances, emptiness and appearances are inseparable." Therefore, realization of the Mahamudra view has three aspects: 1) snang-ba-phyag-rgya-chen-po, "Mahamudra of appearances,"  2) rig-pa-phyag-rgya-chen-po, "Mahamudra of wisdom-awareness," and 3) zung-ü˜jug-phyag-rgya-chen-po, "Mahamudra of union." When a practitioner has realized Mahamudra of appearances, then he realizes chös-kyi-dbyings, Dharmadhatu, "the vast expanse of phenomena." When a practitioner has realized Mahamudra of wisdom-awareness, then he realizes ye-shes-chen-po, "great primordial wisdom." When a practitioner has realized Mahamudra of union, then he realizes chös-kyi-sku, Dharmakaya, "the body of enlightened qualities."

In the following verse, Panchen Naropa described fruition:

"Like the flow of a great river, whatever occurs is meaningful and true.

This is the permanent Buddha nature.

Transcending samsara fully, it is great bliss."

A river illustrates realization of Mahamudra quite well. Nobody pushes a river or stream, nobody pulls at it, rather it simply flows according to what we can say is its natural activity. Likewise, if one realizes Mahamudra, then the true qualities of one's innermost being, which are a Buddha's activities, manifest naturally. Our usual worldly happiness and suffering will then have ceased and we will experience grosse Glückseligkeit, "great bliss."

I think that it would be very good to recite the very precious words of this text every day. Seeing everyone is very busy and nobody has much time, it would be very beneficial to recite the following verse:

"All phenomena are empty of self-identity, wherein even the concept of emptiness is dispelled.

Free of concepts, not fabricating anything in the mind is the path of all the Enlightened Ones."

I'm not informed about the curriculum of Buddhist studies in India, Thailand, and many countries, but in Tibetan Buddhism students at the shedra, "universities," study for many years. The main goal of their intensive education is to realize this verse. Why is it necessary to realize this verse? Due to clinging to a true existence of outer phenomena and one's inner mind, one continues creating causes that force one to remain entrenched in samsara, "conditioned, cyclic existence," that is marked with suffering and woe. One creates divisiveness by clinging to outer phenomena and one's mind as real, i.e., apprehended objects and an apprehending subject are always present as long as one clings to both as true existents. Divisiveness causes one to perpetuate belief in a "self" and "others" and consequently to create further deluded involvements that only entail suffering. In order to cut the root of one's mistaken apprehension of oneself and things in the world, one needs to practice the methods that are readily available so that one can realize that all appearances and one's own mind are empty of inherent existence and therefore don't truly exist.

All appearances and experiences are by nature emptiness, stong-pa-nyid. Being empty, they can be realized. If one realizes emptiness, one has cut the root of samsara and clinging to mistaken apprehensions can never arise again. For instance, when one sees a reflection in a mirror, one is certain that the image in the mirror is not real and one would not poke at the image if one wanted it to be different. If one thinks that an image one sees in a mirror is real and wanted to change it, one would try, though. I remember having entered a shop in Sikkim that had a huge mirror showing another way. I ran in to it. If one thinks appearances are real, one can really bump one's head. Once I visited a friend in Hamburg who has a cat and a big mirror. The cat sat in front of the mirror and stretched out its paw at its own reflection, playing with it. As long as one thinks things are real, one will continue craving for them, but nothing has an own essence. Recognizing that all phenomena are empty and like a reflection in a mirror inspires one not to accumulate negative karma anymore.

The second line in the above verse - "wherein even the concept of emptiness is dispelled" - is extremely important. It's not okay to understand that all phenomena are empty and yet to continue clinging to them. When one truly understands that outer appearances are emptiness, one will automatically recognize that one's grasping mind is also empty and one will stop clinging and craving as a result. When the object that is craved for as well as the clinging subject that craves are recognized to be emptiness, then one rests in this realization, the meaning of the line, "Free of concepts, not fabricating anything in the mind." If one realizes this, then one will have accomplished the path that all Buddhas walked. The verse in Tibetan only uses three lines to state this - how easy. It is the verse: "All phenomena are empty of self-identity, wherein even the concept of emptiness is dispelled. Free of concepts, not fabricating anything in the mind, is the path of all the Enlightened Ones."

Chandrakirti, the great Madhyamaka scholar, offered the example of fire and wood to describe this verse. He compared wood with one's mind that clings to solid existents and therefore generates emotions, and fire with stong-pa-nyid, "emptiness." He said that when one ignites the fire and holds two kindling sticks in the flame, then the fire sizzles and the wood is slowly burned. The fire will automatically go out when the wood has burned up completely. The verse in The Summary of Mahamudra explains this in exactly the same way, so practitioners are warned that as long as their mind, that continues clinging to erroneous concepts of appearances and as a result further gives rise to emotions that are harmful and painful, has not been consumed in the fire of Mahamudra realization, then something has gone wrong. On the other hand, when a diligent practitioner has realized emptiness of outer appearances, then the second kindling stick that exemplifies the subject that clings to empty entities as real is also burned.

I do think that the last verse is actually the main teaching in The Summary. It carries an immense blessing, since Marpa Lotsawa translated it directly after having received it from his Root Guru Panchen Naropa. The Tibetan is:




/'di-ni-sang-rgyäs-kun-gyi-lam/ /


If you recite this verse once a day and make wishing prayers, I think it will really help a lot.

Dedication and colophon

The dedication verse that Panchen Naropa wrote is:

"For those fortunate to connect with this teaching, I have uttered these words of heartfelt instruction.

Thus, may all sentient beings become established in Mahamudra.

This exposition of Mahamudra was given orally by Panchen Naropa to Marpa Chös-kyi-Lodrö, who translated it into Tibetan."

The great scholar and master Naropa passed these most precious teachings on to his eminent student Marpa Lotsawa, the Great Translator, at Pullahari in India, which was Naropa's seat, and not - as most published texts wrongly state - at Pushpahari.


I'm not sure whether I explained Panchen Naropa's precious Mahamudra treatise correctly, but I am sure that those of you who are receiving this text are very fortunate. There are uncountable human beings in the world who haven't even heard the name Naropa, but we have heard his name. Realizing the teachings depends upon each individual, but you have heard the words and that is most fortunate indeed. During Situ Jungne's times (the Eighth Situpa who lived from 1700-1774), all sacred Indian masters' Mahamudra treatises were collected and compiled. Panchen Naropa poured his heart-advice into this text. I think that only those individuals who are connected with the Mahamudra Lineage meet with this text. Certainly, there are thousands and thousands of books in libraries, but I don't think anyone will find this text accidentally.

I can say that The Summary of Mahamudra is the main text in the Kagyü Lineage, so every Kagyü disciple is trying to realize it. I think that the Oral Transmission Lineage of the Kagyüpas is coming through this most exceptional text. Drikung Chöpa Rinpoche said that foundation Mahamudra is more important than the main section of Mahamudra, because if one goes step-by-step, there there will be no adventure time. Please dedicate the merit of having studied this treatise so that your wish to realize the natural state of Mahamudra and understand the essence swiftly is fulfilled and that all living beings realize the meaning of Mahamudra.

Thank you very much for having listened attentively. If we recognize Mahamudra in this life, then we don't have to pray The Amitabha Prayer. If we don't recognize, then we will be born in Amitabha's Pure Land and start from there. So let us sing The Devachen Prayer three times after having recited the dedication prayers.

stupa kamalashila



Through this goodness, may omniscience be attained

And thereby may every enemy (mental defilement) be overcome.

May beings be liberated from the ocean of samsara

That is troubled by waves of birth, old age, sickness, and death.


By this virtue may I quickly attain the state of Guru Buddha, and then

Lead every being without exception to that very state!

May precious and supreme Bodhicitta that has not been generated now be so,

And may precious Bodhicitta that has already been never decline, but continuously increase!

May the life of the Glorious Lama remain steadfast and firm.

May peace and happiness fully arise for beings as limitless (in number) as space (is vast in its extent).

Having accumulated merit and purified negativities, may I and all living beings without exception

swiftly establish the levels and grounds of Buddhahood.




Teachings presented at the Kamalashila Institute in January 2008. Photo of His Holiness presiding over the Great Guncho at Tergar Monastery in the winter of 2007 courtesy of Khenpo Karma Namgyal. Photos with Khenpo in front of the Peace Stupa that Ven. Chöje Lama Phuntsok and Khenpo Karma Namgyal helped build at Kamalashila Institute and in class courtesy of Horst Rauprich. When Khenpo did not teach in English, the instructions were translated into English with sincere gratitude to the German rendering generously offered by Hannelore Wendroth by Gaby Hollmann, responsible for all mistakes. Copyright Karma Lekshey Ling Institute in Kathmandu and Kamalashila Institute, Losar 2008.

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