Stages of Mahamudra 
A Progressive Path of Meditation Instructions
Leading to Mahamudra

from the Enlightenment Stupa in Loma Bonita Oaxaca, Mexico
with Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche

‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌Sa‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌t‌u‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌rd‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌ay D‌ec‌em‌b‌er 2‌nd & S‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌un‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌d‌a‌‌‌‌‌‌‌‌y‌ De‌cem‌‌ber 3‌rd ‌‌‌‌‌‌


Transcript of teachings given from the beautiful Enlightenment Stupa in Loma Bonita. At this auspicious location, Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche taught from the sublime text, Stages of Mahāmudrā: A Message for Gompa Drakpa Dorje. 

Khenpo led us through the stages of meditation so that we may gain insight into the state of Mahamudra, resting in the union of emptiness and awareness. 

This teaching is called, the Stages of Mahamudra: A Message for Gompa Drakpa Dorje. Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon gave these instructions, to another of his disciples. So, at that time in Tibet, students and teachers were far away from one another. Gompa Drakpa Dorje was far away from his teacher, Jigten Sumgon and requested guidance [in the practice]. Jigten Sumgon sent this message to him. These are the teachings that I am sharing with you today.

[Transcript: All rights reserved (copyright) to Khenpo Samdup Rinpoche]

Stages of Mahāmudrā: A Message for Gompa Drakpa Dorje

Verse 1

“Oṃ Svasti
I bow at the feet of the precious guru who is the treasury of everything good and the essence of the exalted body, speech, and mind of all buddhas throughout the three times. You are a sublime being with excellent accumulations. Initiated into the teachings of the Sage, you now view all the fruits of samsara’s joy as being like a poisonous plant”.

“Om Svasti,” means auspicious words. In Tibet we say “Tashi Delek!”, also “Om Svasti” is very similar. So first Jigten Sumgon, shows his respect, bowing down and paying homage to his guru. “I bow at the feet of the precious guru who is the treasury of everything good and the essence of the exalted body, speech, and mind of all buddhas throughout the three times”. So Jigten Sumgon’s guru is Phagmo Drupa, Phagmo Drupa’s guru is Gampopa, Gampopa’s guru is Milarepa, and then Marpa Lotsawa, Naropa, Tilopa, all the way to Buddha Vajradhara. The lineage is called the “Blessing lineage”. So the blessing lineage is focused more on the meditation instructions and Mahamudra. Guru’s blessing is important in Mahamudra Realisation. So without guru’s blessing, it is actually not possible to Realise Mahamudra. If someone already has an extensive accumulation of merit, (maybe from previous lifetimes), or they have connections, from previous lifetimes, then that is a different case. If someone doesn’t have enough accumulation of merit from the previous life, and does not have much connection from a previous life, then in this life, most important is guru’s blessing.

So, due to guru’s blessing we can Realise Mahamudra. With all these teachers, their histories follow their devotion to their own guru, and due to their devotion, they receive the blessing, and they Realise Mahamudra. So, that is why, Jigten Sumgon has very strong devotion to his guru. In some of his Songs of Realisation, he mentions [his guru yoga practice], three times during the night, three times during the day. He never forgets guru, always guru is in his mind. Jigten Sumgon said, that when he first heard Phagmo Drupa’s name, his body really shook, and he made this commitment to himself, that he was going to go and see Phagmo Drupa, and receive the teachings. Jigten Sumgon went through a great deal of hardship. He came all the way to Central Tibet on foot, and when he arrived in Phagmo Drupa’s monastery, he paid homage to every one of the monks. He has so much devotion, and through that devotion he received all these instructions, Phagmo Drupa’s teaching and Realisation. Through the guru’s blessing, and his devotion, he Realised. So that is why Jigten Sumgon is sharing this teaching to his student, Gompa Drakpa Dorje.


First he pays homage to his guru. He recognised his guru, “… who is the treasury of everything good and the essence of the exalted body, speech, and mind of all buddhas throughout the three times”. [Upon Realisation, (absence of attachment to concepts), the luminosity of the unity, of the compassionate, wisdom awareness of the mind, simply radiates forth unhindered, (blissful state)]. So he feels his guru is the same as past Buddhas, present Buddhas, future Buddhas, embodiment [3 Kayas], he pays homage to guru. Next, “You are a sublime being with excellent accumulations”. He recognises his guru, Phagmo Drupa is a sublime being, with a vast accumulation of merit. I shared in teachings, many months ago, Phagmo Drupa, Karmapa Düsum Khyenpa (1st Karmapa), and Saltong Shogam, (another yogi), the three of them are called Kadampas, and the three of them are Gampopa’s students. The three of them broke the rules in Gampopa’s monastery [Dhaklha Gampo], and the disciplinarian [of the monastery], dismissed them, commanding them to leave right away. They were not even given time to pick up their belongings, or see their Guru, (Gampopa).

Gampopa Sönam Rinchen (1079-1153)

Gampopa is the author of a most famous book, The Jewel Ornament Of Liberation, and many others. Gampopa held both lineages of the Kadampa as well as the mahamudra and tantric traditions of Milarepa. Since his time; the Kagyu tradition has contained both lineages together and has become rich in methods for leading disciples to realization. Gampopa led his own students first through the common mahayana path of the Kadampa lineage teachings, and then through the uncommon mahamudra and tantra path of the Kagyu lineage instructions of Milarepa.

So the three Kadampas left the monastery. In the early morning, Gampopa recognised that something was amiss in the monastery, so he asked his attendant to find out what had happened. His attendant saw that the three Kadampas were leaving. So, Gampopa followed after them, and asked them to come back. Gampopa told them, the four of them, [the three of them, and himself], had made strong aspirations together, many, many lifetimes ago, (during the time of Buddha Shakyamuni), and [because of those aspirations], the three of them must return to the monastery with him. There are very beautiful Songs of Realisation that arose, that includes, [“Lord Gampopa’s Song of Response to the Three Men of Kham” (in “The Rain of Wisdom”)]. […] All four, are highly Realised beings. Phagmo Drupa was a very highly Realised being, but due to not understanding some small points, in one part of his meditation practice, needed a teacher, so that is why he looked to Gampopa, Gampopa gave him instructions. Phagmo Drupa then achieved that, [attainment], clarifying everything. […] There are beautiful stories between these yogis. The point is, Jigten Sumgon’s guru is Phagmo Drupa. In this verse, Jigten Sumgon is paying homage to Phagmo Drupa’s [Realisation], making supplications, and offering praise.

You are a sublime being with excellent accumulations. Initiated into the teachings of the Sage, you now view all the fruits of samsara’s joy as being like a poisonous plant”. Phagmo Drupa has very strong renunciation to samsara, because he, “… now views all the fruits of samsara’s joy as being like a poisonous plant….,” [he sees that samsara [delusion], continues, out of mistaken conception, due to dualistic grasping]. Due to that Realisation, Phagmo Drupa gave up attachment to samsara, [dualistic, conceptual grasping], and followed the spiritual path. Then the next verse.

Verse 2

“As your karmic imprints for devotion awoke, you filled the endless knot of your heart to the brim
with the sublime elixir-like teachings of the Buddha. For the benefit of both yourself and others,
you made practice your main focus, O sublime one”.

“As your karmic imprints for devotion awoke, you filled the endless knot of your heart to the brim with the sublime elixir-like teachings of the Buddha”. So, Phagmo Drupa followed the monastic spiritual path. He has very strong devotion for the practices, and his karma is ripening in Realisation, (that is why, he sees Gampopa is his guru).

***The eternal knot

[The eternal knot is one of the eight auspicious symbols in Tibetan Buddhism.

The eternal knot, sometimes called the “endless knot” or “the glorious knot” is called དཔལ་བེའུ། or palbeu in Tibetan. In Sanskrit, it is called shrivasta.

Tibetan eternal knot, meaning of the eternal knot symbol

Tibetan Eternal Knot

Because the knot has no beginning and no end, the eternal knot symbolizes the endless wisdom and compassion of the Buddha.

The eternal knot symbol has many other meanings.

It can symbolize the interconnectedness of wisdom and compassion; the eternal continuum of mind; samsara, the Buddhist concept of the endless cycle of suffering or birth, death, and rebirth; the union of wisdom and method; and the interdependence and interconnectedness of everything in the universe].

Phagmo Drupa received the Dharma teachings from Gampopa, practiced and Realised, and so in this way he, [brought forth the two-fold benefit], for oneself and others. Bringing the benefit to oneself, means he Realised, [the nondual nature of Reality, through the unification of bodhicitta, and wisdom awareness]. He was an Enlightened being. He benefitted many others, and he had many students. So that is Jigten Sumgon’s praise to Phagmo Drupa here. Phagmo Drupa Realised, and through these practices, [accumulation of merit], benefitted so many other beings. “…. you filled the endless knot of your heart to the brim with the sublime elixir-like teachings of the Buddha. For the benefit of both yourself and others, you made practice your main focus, O sublime one”. Jigten Sumgon is making supplications, and giving praise, to Phagmo Drupa [practice]. Then, next verse.

Verse 3

“You have faith in the exalted body, speech, and mind of the precious guru, our refuge, the nirmanakaya Protector of the World, untainted by a host of words and conceptual fabrication.
You have not gone to the marketplace for milk!”

Jigten Sumgon continues his praise to Phagmo Drupa, paying homage to, his faith in guru, in the body, speech and mind of the precious guru, the source of refuge. “… the nirmanakaya Protector of the World”. So Phagmo Drupa is a nirmanakaya form. Nirmanakaya form means, who takes the form body, [to benefit beings]. So takes birth, and we can receive teaching directly, from that teacher. “… the nirmanakaya Protector of the World, untainted by a host of words and conceptual fabrication”. Jigten Sumgon received teaching directly from Phagmo Drupa. Phagmo Drupa didn’t use so many words to explain the teaching, as the essence of the practice is not found in the words. (The purpose is, the practitioner has direct experience of the teachings, as their Realisation). Phagmo Drupa shared the teachings in this way, as pointing out instructions for practitioners to use. [Like a finger pointing to the moon. The point is the Realisation, not what is pointing to it, (the words), as the essence of the teaching is nonconceptual]. “You have not gone to the marketplace for milk!” Marketplace milk, means fake, already so much water is put in, that it does not have much essence. Unlike that, is when you get milk directly, from cows or yaks, or whatever. So, like that first hand experience, (in that same way), Phagmo Drupa’s teaching, is pointing out the authentic essence of the teachings, not fake. (Direct, with less words). So Jigten Sumgon received all this teaching, and instructions, from Phagmo Drupa, and now Jigten Sumgon is going to share this with his disciple. Then the next verse.

Verse 4

“When longing for the oral instructions of a sublime being, first recollect death and
impermanence, and meditate on these with great sincerity. If this teaching does not take root in
your mind, even if you are regarded as an excellent and sublime being, in truth you will only be
focused on this world. And so, my sublime son, having utterly severed your conceptual
fabrications as they relate to this world, I ask you to make practice your main focus”.

“When longing for the oral instructions of a sublime being,…”. We recollect death and impermanence. “…first recollect death and impermanence, and meditate on these with great sincerity.” So, [to receive the teachings correctly, (so that the mind understands correctly, (and we cut the grasping at self, and phenomena, which are selfless)], the first teachings, (practices), are very important. We have to cultivate, meditation on impermanence, [to plant those seeds of awareness, and then ripening those, in our mindstream. The relative level of the mind requires training this way, (or already the nature of our mind, would be in the dharmakaya state)]. So, if we don’t cultivate impermanence, then the practice of Dharma is very shallow. [Still in samsara state, (bound on the conceptual level), without applying the antidote, to melt the ice-block, of ego-self’s reality, grasping at duality]. Also, the practice of Dharma is being followed on the worldly level, [because mind, on the relative level, (habituation, is in the delusion of its duality, and is caught up with the worldly concerns of this life, as the basis of its continuation]. So still, we are attached, [to the concept of ego-self, which arises the samsara]. We are no knowing the nature of death, [dissolution of this form body], and impermanence, as the nature of this universe. [The impermanence nature, as the ceaseless arising of cause, effect and conditions, in the universe]. Whereby, sentient beings, (born into the human, (desire realm), without training the mind in the correct awareness), are being driven, helplessly, by the karmic winds, of their attachment, to the different mind states].

So, what Jigten Sumgon is sharing here, is most important, for starting Dharma practice. We have to cultivate impermanence, [ripen the mind in recognising its own Realisation. Cutting through the false attachment, (delusion of duality), that arises as the obstacles in our practice. Through habituating the mind again and again, in this way, (to practice mind-training method). Arising compassion, wisdom-awareness, (bodhicitta), we learn how to bring everything on to the path of our practice. So that, [(as we continue in this way), we can walk through the door, of liberating our mind, (of its attachment to wrong concept, (duality), and instead, Realising its own true, dharmakaya nature. Emaho!)]. Impermanence cultivation is not only one time, [it is cultivated again and again, whereby mind generates the causes, effects and conditions, of its own Realisation]. The point is, we have to cultivate impermanence every single day. [And reflect on the selfless nature of all phenomena, [self, and, all phenomena, have the same true nature]. Otherwise, the mind wanders ceaselessly, continuing in samsara, (mind states), [in unrecognition, mistaken attachment to delusion].


So impermanence is the same as, sun rising, and sun setting. In that same way, we have birth, we have death. As long as there is birth, there is death. (No-one is free from that). As long as we have sunrise, then sunset is always there. When there is a birth, (when we are born), then we are going to die. When we think about death, again and again, and cultivate that meditation, (in our mind), that cuts our ‘attachment’ with this life. [When we turn our mind to Dharma, and place our attention on the purification of our mind, accumulating virtues, that is fulfilling the two-fold benefit of oneself and others, (nondual practices)]. And not caught up with the worldly concerns of this life, instead, ‘turning the mind to Dharma,’ is important, seeking Realisation, (Enlightenment), liberation, [from endlessly, revolving helplessly in samsaric mind states]. When we cultivate that aspiration, and strong renunciation, [letting go, severing our attachment to samsara], then what we do, (as activities of Dharma), go along the right path.

Otherwise, if we don’t cultivate impermanence meditation, then mind is attached to this life, (has fixation to mistaken view, (dualistic conception)). So to practice the Dharma, (concerned only with some benefit of this life), that cannot liberate the mind, [from false conception, (attachment to ego-self), and the mistaken, dualistic perception, arising from that, (samsara’s mind states)]. The benefit of practicing the Dharma, goes beyond just thinking about this life. If we are only thinking about the benefit of this life, (that is not negative), mind is generating positive mind states, there is nothing wrong there, but it won’t lead to enlightenment, [liberation from samsara, Realisation, that everything that arises is like a dream state, a mirage, (whilst continuing to cultivate the right intention in the dream)].

If someone is only thinking about this life, (but really wants to liberate the mind), then that is an obstacle. So right now we are sharing Mahamudra teaching and practice. The focus, the goal is Enlightenment, (Realisation of the true nature of reality, (through compassionate, wisdom awareness), not preoccupied with ego-self, benefitting something in this life, within samsara. For once, the root of mind’s delusion, (attachment to dualistic conception is severed), all of samsara falls away, (just as, when the roots of the tree are cut, all the branches wither). Of course, some practices really bring benefit in this life, (remove this life’s obstacles, and during our own life there is more peace, joy, happiness, that is also what some practices bring in this life). But those practices are not going to take the mind to Realisation, (Enlightenment). So that is why here, Jigten Sumgon is sharing these instructions to his disciple. His disciple is looking for liberation, (Enlightenment). Not looking to benefit something in this life, [whilst still in dualistic perception, samsara is still continuing (suffering), there is no end to that]. So long as we are attached to this life, we cannot liberate the mind, (liberation is not possible).


So then, how do we give up attachment in this life? The best practice is to cultivate the teaching on impermanence meditation, in the mind. Especially, cultivating impermanence and death. [All phenomena are impermanent, they appear, because their nature is emptiness, arise due to various causes, effects and conditions, (dependent origination). Like a rainbow in the sky, appearing yet empty, empty yet appearing. This is what Siddhartha Gautama, Shakyamuni, (the historical figure), Realised under the Bodhi tree, that led him along the path to omniscient Buddhahood, passing beyond birth and death, (sorrow)]. If we are really cultivating impermanence and death, we really see, (recognise), nothing is important that we have, in this worldly samsaric view. [The mind is still held captive in samsara’s delusion, in these states. We continue to cultivate the three levels of generosity [practices which generate merit]. We cultivate a state shift, melting the ice-block of our self-grasping, (through compassionate, wisdom awareness, bodhicitta). In Mahamudra, practice for direct recognition, Realising the true nature state of mind, (it’s oceanic sky, space-like nature, dharmakaya, luminous yet empty]. When we die, we cannot take anything with us, right? [All that really matters is the Dharma practice, (the nondelusional practices we have done, planting and ripening the seeds of true awareness recognition, Realisation in the mental continuum, (mindstream)].

When we took the birth, we have a precious body, that comes together. But when we die, we cannot take our body with us. So that is why we cultivate impermanence, reduce attachment, [to the appearances, whereby mind is drawn outside, (distracted from recognising/Realising the nature of our mind)]. Reducing our attachment, also reduces our suffering, [feeling of separation]. Suffering arises from attachment. (The cause of suffering, is attachment). The attachment is due to our ignorance, of the true nature of our mind/ Reality, (dharmakaya). We don’t recognise that. [In our dualistic perception], it looks like attachment brings us more happiness. [It is only the bodhicitta, (compassionate, wisdom awareness), love without attachment, that can bring the true, long-lasting happiness]. Actually those who know the nature of this impermanence, (true Reality), they see clearly, attachment is the obstacle to liberation, (from the mind, liberating from attachment to samsara). Attachment is not the same as anger. [Attachment arises from a foundational ignorance (unknowingness), of the true nature of Reality, (nondual). Due to this mistaken perception, (separation from that knowing), the mind wanders in duality, (the delusion of ego-self), which grasps at phenomena, as separate. Anger arises due to the attachment. When the ego-self is seemingly separated from what it wants/ desires]. Anger is the same as holding fire in our own hand. [When we realise, (through the application of compassion wisdom method), that truly all phenomena are impermanent, and have the nature of empty, clarity, wisdom awareness, we come to Realise we hold ‘Buddha in the palm of the hand’. Our true awareness nature is always with us, (throughout the six realms of samsara), we are never separate from that. Rebirth in one of the higher realms of samsara, that we have the opportunity to come to the Dharma teachings, and follow practice method, whereby we can recognise, Realise this].


‘Anger is the same as holding fire in our own hand’, so much suffering arises. [When we are in states of ignorance, we’re not recognising that anger has the same nature as our awareness. When we train the mind in pure perception, (purification practices), we use the mind to look into the anger, it arises the all-accomplishing wisdom. In states of ignorance, anger, arising from mistaken perception, (duality), due to attachment to self, the cause of our suffering), (is, ignorance, heaped upon the foundational ignorance). Anger is truly the direct enemy to our happiness. [Through the practice of patience, in applying skilful means method in our meditation practice, again and again, we generate the bodhicitta awareness, liberating the anger, ignorance]. We don’t see attachment. Attachment, sometimes we feel is our enjoyment, pleasure, (causes of our happiness). But attachment is obstacle to Enlightenment/ liberation, [because mind is not knowing its true, nondual (dharmakaya) nature, (in that state). It is in a state of unrecognition, continuing in samsara. Due to ‘attachment to ignorance,’ (grasping at a self, as if it has some solid, inherent identity, instead of being merely imputed by the mind, constantly undergoing change), – we cannot liberate mind, in its dharmakaya nature. Reflecting in this way, we realise the importance of reliance upon our precious gurus, (Enlightened beings), the Three Jewels of refuge, practice, to guide our mind, beyond samsara’s delusion, into the recognition/Realisation of the true, dharmakaya nature]. So that is why, (in samsara), all the things we think are causes of happiness, actually become the causes of our suffering. We are not knowing that, due to our habitual ignorance. The Realiser beings looking into the nature of the mind, see the goal (happiness) is Enlightenment, (not attaching to the temporary happiness).

So in an unaware state, temporary happiness, comes from the attachment. This is transformed through, loving kindness compassion, bodhicitta Realisation. We are all attached to our family, loved ones, but this can only bring temporary happiness, [not the true, blissful joy, (permanent happiness), of the Enlightened state, (that is the liberation from samsara, in the dharmakaya nature)]. So the attachment is obstacle to liberation. For this reason we generate, and cultivate, the practice of bodhicitta, (the awakening mind in our mindstream), resting mind in its awareness, in our meditation practice, looking directly into the nature of mind itself, (Mahamudra Realisation). Whoever is attached, to their family, loved ones, no-one can liberate, [until that changes], so we can not say, anyone can liberate. ‘Attached’ to own family, and liberated, we cannot find anyone like that. [For this reason we must cultivate the bodhicitta Realisation, and practice with the sincere intention: ‘May all beings enjoy happiness, and the causes of happiness! May they be free from suffering, and the causes of suffering! May they never be separated from the sacred happiness devoid of suffering! And may they dwell in boundless equanimity, that is free from attachment and aversion!’ (Four Immeasurables Prayer). Ripening our mindstreams to realise the the nondual nature of awareness].


So, ‘attached’ to own family and liberated, never happened before and is not going to happen in the future. The reason is because ‘attachment’, is the obstacle to liberation. [Self-clinging, which obscures the recognition of the nature of awareness, and realisation of the selflessness of self, and phenomena]. So then, cultivating the meditation on ‘Impermanence and Death,’ arises bodhicitta awareness, cutting through, mind’s attachment to the concepts of, ‘attachment’ love and, through the continued cultivation of these practices, transforming into the immeasurable love, (unconditional love) for all sentient beings. (Recognising that, all sentient beings, (who have been our mother, at some point, as we have revolved in the six realms of existence), are wandering around in the states of their own mind delusions (suffering), not Realising the true nature of awareness, (nondual dharmakaya nature). So now, we all have loved ones, family and friends. This love is dependent, (dependent love), conditional love. We meditate on impermanence, truly ‘Knowing,’ ‘Death and Impermanence,’ recognising the nature of reality, (through our bodhicitta awareness), there arises the unconditional love for our loved ones, and all sentient beings. So then unconditional love brings the true benefit. We don’t recognise that due to our self-grasping, ignorance, (in states of unawareness). [We experience the benefit of the unconditional love, (through the immeasurable kindness of our most precious, perfectly pure gurus), who help us to ripen our minds in the stages of liberation].

If we look to the history of Buddha Shakyamuni, he loved his father, wife and child, but he saw his love was attachment love, [and that he could not free them from death]. He realised this ‘attachment’ love was not going to bring the true benefit to either his family, or to himself, and that is why he arose the unconditional love for them, (and all sentient beings). The nature, of the arising unconditional love, is all pervading. On the worldly level, people might say, “I don’t know if Buddha was really a kind person, kind to people. (Many people tell me that). He left his father, wife and child behind, and went off by himself, (some people have that doubt), but this is a great misunderstanding, of the meaning here. The historical figure, Siddhartha Gautama Shakyamuni, [who became Buddha, (Awakened)], had the true love, (bodhicitta) in his mind. He wanted to bring the true benefit to them, and that is why he had to leave the palace, (his home). And when he came back to the palace, (after he became Buddha), again his father asked him to return to the palace, and be King of the country (kingdom). So, the Buddha said, I cannot be king here, the Realisation doesn’t belong to only one kingdom and its people, the teachings belong to everyone. I want to help all the sentient beings. He told them, my love is equanimous, for all beings. So, the cause of that love, is realisation, from meditation on impermanence.


If we don’t cultivate, meditation on impermanence, (and reflecting on death), in such a way, that it is not really coming into our mind and heart, then all the practice of Dharma, is not going to the right path. [The Dharma teaching must enter the heart, through sincerely cultivating the bodhicitta intention, (arising awareness of the teachings in our mindstreams), followed by practice, in our daily lives]. So the point is, we go back into habitual patterns, become attached to samsaric existence again, and forget the practice, [this is why we must make effort to bring everything onto the path of practice, so we are continuing to cultivate the bodhicitta awareness, (like the spinning of prayer wheels)]. The ‘attachment’ of going back into unaware habitual patterns, is obstacle, to practicing the genuine dharma. So that is the reason, the main point here, is to cultivate, every single day, the meditation on impermanence, [this life is like a dream, (illusory in nature), we can never be sure when death will come, but that it is certain. Here now, we can practice the Dharma, to liberate our minds from samsara’s sufferings, bringing about the two-fold benefit (self and others)]. So we look at our own experience. Buddha taught, that we are our own protection. [We cultivate the teachings within our minds, and practice them]. No-one can truly protect us. [We do that, by making effort to listen to Dharma teachings, (generating bodhicitta mind, which is liberating us from samsara), working with these inner practices. Our minds need to connect with the awareness].

So, we are our own protection. [We have to cultivate the pure Dharma practice, within us, that we teach our mind to follow, (with sincere, patient, consistent, and joyous effort), arising the bodhicitta, (planting the seeds of liberation in our mind. Paying homage to our precious guru’s, Realised beings, the Three Jewels of Refuge, guiding us on the path of liberation]. We look to ourself, how many years have already gone? And we don’t know how long we will be in this life for, (how much time in this life, we have remaining). And we think about that again and again, and then there arises very strong effort, to want to practice the Dharma, (which we need, to create the habituation in the practices, to liberate the mind from samsara). Then through that effort, wanting to practice the Dharma, becomes pure intention. So that is why, here Jigten Sumgon very clearly says, “first recollect death and impermanence, and meditate on these with great sincerity. If this teaching does not take root in your mind, even if you are regarded as an excellent and sublime being, in truth you will only be focused on this world.” So, “If this teaching does not take root in your mind,“… means, if we don’t cultivate impermanence, and meditate on death, then, “even if you are regarded as an excellent and sublime being, in truth you will only be focused on this world.” [Through reflecting on the teachings again and again in this way, bodhicitta is generated, (and renunciation from following the samsaric mind naturally arises)].


If this teaching does not take root in your mind, even if you are regarded as an excellent and sublime being, in truth you will only be focused on this world.” So, this means, we might think this (conceptually), ‘Oh I am a sublime person’, (a good Dharma practitioner). [This can sneak upon us at any time, when we are not watching our mind. (Ordinarily, we are habited in samsara, to following the ego, until we come to, and actively engage in, the precious practices of the Dharma). If we are not actively engaging ourselves in a path of practice, in which we are cutting through our attachment to our samsaric mind, (then, it is conceptual only). We are not severing the attachment to self, grasping at ego, that has us bound to worldly concerns (samsara), (mistaken perception)], so then, still not really a Dharma practitioner. Attachment arises very easily, [clinging to self, and phenomena, as if they have some real, inherent existence from their own side]. Then we don’t have any solution for that again, [attachment to samsaric mind]. So then, the attachment, becomes obstacle to the Dharma. [So this is why, when sincerely practicing the Dharma, everything must be brought onto the path of practice, (generating bodhicitta intention, and practice, cutting through attachment, (duality), of mind clinging to samsara)]. So that is why, very clearly, Jigten Sumgon says, “even if you are regarded as an excellent and sublime being, in truth you will only be focused on this world.” So our practice, only becomes focused on this world, [of mirage, delusion. [Yet we are the supremely fortunate ones, to have come to the most precious gurus, Dharma teachings, the Three Jewels of Refuge, we have the opportunity to practice, and help all the other sentient beings, (blind) in the prison of samsara, (creating further suffering for themselves, (not aware of this)].

“… in truth you will only be focused on this world,” means, we are wanting only good things, achievements in this life. [This is ignorance based, (arising from obscuration of self-clinging), it is necessary to directly counter this, with the antidote of continually generating the mind of bodhicitta]. So, only thinking about the benefits of this life, it is not possible to liberate the mind from samsara, [mind is ‘attached’ to its own creations. In the Tibetan Buddha Dharma, this is recognised as being, one of the *’Four Mara’ demons, of mind, (when not yet liberated into its dharmakaya nature)].

Four types of Māra

In traditional Buddhism, four or five metaphorical forms of Māra are given:[6]

  • Kleśa-māra – Māra as the embodiment of all unskillful emotions, such as greed, hate and delusion.
  • Mṛtyu-māra – Māra as death.
  • Skandha-māra – Māra as metaphor for the entirety of conditioned existence.
  • Devaputra-māra – the deva of the sensuous realm, who tried to prevent Gautama Buddha from attaining liberation from the cycle of rebirth on the night of the Buddha’s enlightenment.


[This is not, not appreciating good things that happen in this life. It is about not ‘attaching’ to them. When things are not going well, not attaching to that either. This is what is meant by the ‘Middle Way’ path in the Buddha Dharma (free of the *two extremes)].

*Two extremes (Skt. divyanta or antadvaya; Tib. མཐའ་གཉིས་, ta nyiWyl. mtha’ gnyis) — eternalism and nihilism.

From a Buddhist perspective, all non-Buddhist philosophies are considered to fall into either of these two extremes. Even within Buddhism, there is an attempt by each philosophical school to avoid these extremes and to point out how other schools have to do so.

In the King of Samadhi Sutra, the Buddha said:
Existence and non-existence are extremes,
Purity and impurity are extremes as well,
Thus, having relinquished both extremes,
The wise do not dwell even in the middle.

Nagarjuna wrote:
To say “it is” is a conception of permanence,
To say “it is not” is a view of nihilism,
Therefore the learned should dwell
In neither existence nor non-existence.


The middle path generally refers to the avoidance of two extremes of practical life, namely, indulgence in sensual pleasures on the one hand and severe asceticism on the other. 


In this case, the teaching is Mahamudra. The goal of the Mahamudra teaching, is not for some benefit in this life, (during our lifetime). [But of using the practices, to liberate mind of its attachment to duality, (mistaken conception)]. So Mahamudra meditation practice goal, is achievement of Enlightenment (Realisation) in one lifetime. If we don’t cultivate the teaching on impermanence, then it is not possible to become Enlightened in one lifetime. “And so, my sublime son,“. The sublime son, (means the spiritual son), the heart son of a teacher, (a principal lineage holder), who carries the teacher’s Dharma teachings, and practice, then that is a heart son. “… having utterly severed your conceptual fabrications as they relate to this world, I ask you to make practice your main focus”. So then, Jigten Sumgon’s first instruction to his student is, he asked him to (1) meditate on impermanence, and reflect on death, again and again, daily, as mindful awareness practice, (repeating this over and over again). When there is really good meditation on impermanence and death, then this love arises [from the bodhicitta awareness], for our family, parents, loved ones, and all sentient beings. So otherwise, our love is still limited, still biased (attachment love), and not true love, (immeasurable, unconditional love). When love is not yet unconditional, (immeasurable love), it is dependent love, (the love is dependent on something). The instructions Jigten Sumgon is sharing with his student are, to cultivate impermanence, and reflect on death. Also to realise, that in the worldly samsara, there is not any true happiness or joy. So, that is why Jigten Sumgon says here, “… having utterly severed your conceptual fabrications as they relate to this world, I ask you to make practice your main focus”. The practice is liberation, and he asks him to make this, his main focus. Then next verse.

Verse 5

“When it comes time to practice, the foundation of the teachings of all buddhas throughout the three times is the higher training in disciplined conduct”.

The foundation of the teachings that Jigten Sumgon, Enlightened Gurus are sharing here to students are the higher trainings in disciplined conduct.

*What is the Threefold Training?

Buddhism is usually thought of as a path of practice. But it is equally a path of training (which is in fact one of the synonyms for practice). We train our minds, but it goes deeper than that. We train our whole being. We train in the very way we live.

Buddhist training falls into three categories. In Sanskrit, they are called sila (discipline or ethical living), samadhi (concentration), and prajna (insight or wisdom). Together, they summarize the Buddha’s fourth noble truth, the full path to enlightenment.

Sila: Variously translated as discipline, ethics, virtue, or morality, sila encompasses three aspects of the eightfold path: right speech, right action, and right livelihood. Living ethically and purely is both the ground of the Buddhist path and its result.

Samadhi: Translated as concentration, calm abiding, or mindfulness, samadhi is the foundation of Buddhist meditation. By settling and calming the mind through dedicated meditation practice, we achieve peace and are no longer controlled by our delusions and conflicting emotions (kleshas).

Prajna: Translated as wisdom, insight, and discriminating mind, prajna is Buddhism’s unique, defining principle and the key to enlightenment. Using the powerful, concentrated mind of samadhi, we penetrate the true nature of reality and free ourselves from the fundamental ignorance that causes suffering. This is the essential technique of Buddhist meditation.


The Tibetan word for disciplinetsultrim, literally means ‘acting appropriately’. The purpose of discipline is to simplify our lives. Discipline is a way of clearing our minds, preparing the ground, and creating the right environment, or a way of being that is conducive to positive and happy states of mind.

Meditation is the actual method of transforming the mind. When, through meditation, the mind is transformed, what dawns is wisdom, or prajña.

With wisdom, you can simplify your life even more, so bringing more discipline, because you have the clarity and discernment to see what you should pursue or abandon. Then, even though you may be living in a complex world, you will possess an inner simplicity. To simplify your life means you will have more time for meditation practice. When you practise, the whole point is to purify your ordinary mind and bring more wisdom. So, discipline supports meditation, through meditation you develop wisdom, and wisdom will create an environment of greater simplicity in the mind, naturally inspiring more discipline. This is the constantly turning ‘wheel of happiness’.


(Continued on: Stages of Meditation from Enlightenment Stupa (2) on this website).

(Any errors are the transcriber’s/ editor’s own).