Song of Mahamudra


 Tilopa’s Ganges Mahamudra Oral Instructions

Translated by Daniel Brown, Ph.D.


 1.    Out of respect for the lineage,

Who developed these instructions,

To counter an ocean of suffering in Samsara,

Let me pour this view into your mind, my friends.


2.     Although Mahamudra isn’t anything I can really explain.

Just let go, and hold this vantage point of mind,

Without artificial meditation strategies, and freshly

[without conceptualization]

Just as space has no substance to it,

Likewise, the real nature of the mind, Mahamudra,

Has no substance that can serve as a support to focus on


3.     Cling to nothing as I speak, and there is no doubt, liberation will come.

Take this view as if you were looking directly into awareness-itself,

Like space, in such a way that you aren’t trying to see,

Because from this vantage point, awareness sees itself by itself.

And when all attempts to conceptualize cease,

You will attain perfect awakening.


4.     Clouds float through space,

But don’t go anywhere, or stay anywhere.

In the same way conceptualization arises in the mind,

But from the vantage point of the real nature of the mind,

Thought is like waves that become calm.


5.     Just as space has no color. It has no form.

It has no darkness. No light. It is changeless.

Likewise, the real nature of the mind has no color, no form,

Nor is it tinged by the darkness of bad,

Nor the light of virtuous actions.


6.     For thousands of aeons, the sun that shines everyday day

Has never been clouded by darkness.

Likewise, the real nature of the mind’s clear-light of awareness

Has never been clouded by the cycle of Samsara.


7.     You’ll probably conceptualize about the mind in so many ways,

Calling it “empty space’ or ‘clear-light’

But you can’t really explain it in words.

This mind is…insubstantial, and words won’t make awakening happen.


8.     The real nature of the mind is always right here,

Beginning less, endless,

Like vast space that saturates everything!

So my dear friends, now stop doing anything

To set up your body posture,

Shut your mouth, be quiet, and don’t think

About anything whatsoever..

Simply take this vantage point,

As the teaching beyond all practices.


9.     The body has no substance,

Like the hollow inside of a bamboo stalk.

And the mind, like space itself,

Is beyond any intended meditation ob­ject.

So let go of any artificial strategies of meditating.

Let go of meditating.

And when this mind reflects itself to itself,

Right here is Mahamudra-awakening.


10.   You will not see the clear-light of Mahamudra

By chanting mantras,

Reading the wisdom texts or sutras on emptiness,

Or, by practicing ethical precepts.

When the [ordinary] mind [incessantly reacts]

By moving away from practices it dislikes

And moving toward practices it likes

You stay obscured and will not see

The clear-light of Mahamudra-awak­ening.


11.   Having ideas about how you routinely keep your vows,

Trying to concep­tualize how you might [awaken],

Just makes to stray from this truth.

This truth is beyond the reactivity of the mind

Moving away or moving toward anything..

Don’t particularize anything,

And whatever seems to arise by itself,

Immedi­ately becomes calm by itself,

And so the mind remains like a still pool of water.


12.   Never leave That-ness, but don’t stay in it either,

And don’t try to repre­sent it.

Simply vow never to leave it,

And nothing will obscure the flames [of awakening!].

Beyond the reactivity of the [ordinary] mind

Moving toward and moving away,

Not trying to stay, not even trying to see it,

Then you will see everything there is to see!


13.   Conduct an examination-meditation right now on the Truth,

And you will become liberated from the prison of Samsara.

Then, in you samadhi-meditation, right now,

The flames of this Truth will burn up

All the bad karma and obscurations.

Those who are unable to appreciate this Truth

Toss about in the sea of Samsara.


14.   Those foolish beings who continuously get caught up

In negative states of misery and sorrow.

All these sorry folks who wish to be free,

Need only depend on the teacher’s pointing out instructions.


15.   So my friends, everything that exists within Samsara

Is only the cause of suffering, not the cause of Truth.

The essence of this teaching is: to do nothing,

Other than taking the vantage point of what is the essence of Truth.


16.   The King of Views is: Going beyond subject/object duality

The King of Meditation is: Holding this vantage point uninterruptedly.

The King of Practice is: Do nothing. Do not search for anything.

Be without any expectation of gain or fear of failure,

And your realization will directly come to fruition.


17.   So now move beyond any intended meditation object

To the real nature of the mind’s awareness

Self-illuminating itself to itself.

There is no path to walk….

and you are already facing Buddha-mind as your mind.

And when you are familiar with what it’s like meditating in this way,

Without any intended meditation object,

And it is perfect, now you awaken!


18.   So my friends, please understand me well.

Everything that seems to ex­ist in this world is impermanent,

Like a mirage or a dream,

And as such, mirages and dreams are not the Truth.


19.   So at least for now put aside everyday activities,

Break connection with [ordinary] sensory experience.

It only generates more desire and aversion.

Dwell in the forests or mountains and meditate.

Yet, [above all] stay in this vantage point of non-meditation,

And when you don’t try to attain it,

You will attain Mahamudra-awak­ening.


20.   The leaves and branches of a tree

Wither and wilt when its roots are cut.

Likewise, cut the roots of the mind,

And the leaves and branches of Sam­sara end.


21.   The smallest lamp can eliminate darkness

That has accumulated for thousands of eons.

Likewise, a single flame of the clear-light

Of the mind’s awareness self-illumi­nating itself to itself,

In a single instant,

Eliminates all the ignorance, obscurations, and defilements,

That have accumulated for eons.


22.   So my friends, don’t conceptualize this,

Or you won’t see the Truth that is beyond all conceptualization.

Don’t engage in any artificial meditation strategies,

Or you won’t see the Truth that is beyond all doing.

So if you want this Truth,

It is beyond all conceptualization

And all artificial meditation strategies.


23.   Use your sword of emptiness everywhere,

And cut to the root,

And hold the vantage point freshly.

Purify the muddy water of conceptualizing

Until it becomes clear.

Ease up so you let whatever arises

Come forth in its own right [self-con­tentedly].

Don’t do anything.

Do not make anything happen

Nor prevent anything from happening.


24.   Do not hold onto anything, nor let anything go,

And right here, is Maha­mudra-awakening,

And you are freed from Samsara.

All that obscures, even the subtlest propensities cease.

The awakened mind, always right here,

Self-illuminates the storehouse of all potential experience.


25.   Complete liberation from all extreme [views].

This is the Supreme View.

Wide and deep and limitless.

This is the Supreme Medita­tion.

Beyond any intention or cutting anything off.

This is the Supreme Practice.

Beyond all expectation of outcome or fear of failure,

The mind frees it­self.

This is the Supreme Fruition.


26.   At first awakening the mind is like a fast-moving waterfall.

Then, it flows gently like the vast Ganges,

And finally, it is a great ocean wherein

The infant of individual consciousness

And the dharmakaya mother consciousness

Flow into one another.


27.   For those less intelligent who can’t stay [continuously]

In the vantage point of awakened wisdom [once you taste it]

You can [once again] stay on the breath,

And distill the nectar of awareness

With many concentration practices,

[And when your concentration is strong again]

Above all learn to hold the vantage point of awareness-itself


28.   If you take that vantage point as your support,

Awakened Wisdom arises, its radiance, its emptiness.

Through empowerment, entering samadhi, then insight,

[The seeds of] this Awakened Wisdom

Are gently drawn into the mandala [in your heart],

Then manifest in various sites in your body,

Then saturate your entire be­ing.

When you don’t grasp for it,

Awakened Wisdom arises, its radiance, its emptiness.


29.   You will seem ageless and healthy like the waxing moon.

You become radiant.

You’ll seem to have the strength of a lion,

And all the ordinary [positive states]

And special powers of a Buddha will flourish.

This is my oral advice to you, my friends,

On the essence of Mahamudra-awakening.

Let it stay uninterruptedly in your heart,

And in the hearts of all sentient beings!


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  • vinaire  On July 17, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    Absence of matter = Space-time with energy
    Absence of energy = Space-time with awareness
    Absence of awareness = No space and no time

    • Chris Thompson  On July 19, 2014 at 12:12 AM

      Most basic space-time = presence of every potential = singularity, unknown Current space-time = presence of every actuality plus remaining potential Final space-time = anti-singularity = infinitely dispersed space-time, end of space-time, no potential, unknown.

      • vinaire  On July 19, 2014 at 12:48 PM

        One cannot know the potential ahead of time. The idea of potential is basically as assumption that since I see it, it must have been there prior to this point as a potential. This is basically a “working backwards from present time”. But it is something that exists in present time as an assumption.

  • vinaire  On July 17, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    The real nature of the mind is awareness. The physical perceptions serve the mind.

  • vinaire  On July 17, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    It doesn’t matter what you call the ground state. Just let all disturbance cease.

    • Chris Thompson  On July 19, 2014 at 12:15 AM

      “It doesn’t matter what you call the ground state. Just let all disturbance cease.”

      Before and after and undercutting the disturbance is the ground state. Is the Higgs Field there if it isn’t disturbed? No space-time = no location or duration, hence no motion, no travel.

      • vinaire  On July 19, 2014 at 12:50 PM

        Per the principle of “neti, neti” the Higgs Field wouldn’t be there in the Ground State.

        • Chris Thompson  On July 19, 2014 at 9:15 PM

          Ok, Thanks for telling me that. I wasn’t sure how far you wanted to reduce the ground state.

          As I’ve said before and per Neti Neti, when you look close enough, there will be roughness in that flattened groundstate.

        • vinaire  On July 19, 2014 at 9:31 PM

          Ground state is not determined by me. In fact it cannot be determined by anybody because it is unknowable.

          A “ground state” that is determined in any manner is not the true ground state. Please see,


        • Chris Thompson  On July 20, 2014 at 12:34 PM

          . . . and yet, there we are writing about it. I’m going to have to respectfully shy away from the conjecture of nothing and rather call this notion of nothing (ground state) “relatively nothing” only. I just an not seeing the consistency to invoke this toe of zero. Or else enlighten me how this is useful. How does the idea of no thing move our research?

        • vinaire  On July 20, 2014 at 12:42 PM

          There is no such conjecture as “nothing”. The only conjecture is “absence of awareness.”

        • Chris Thompson  On July 20, 2014 at 1:17 PM

          Well, yes I think there is. Unknowable is the conjecture of the result of Neti Neti. Though I am confident that Neti Neti has no final result, the resultant ” . . .” is actually the thing which isn’t anything, or “no-thing.”

        • vinaire  On July 20, 2014 at 2:17 PM

          I interpret ‘neti,neti’ differently. It means to me that anything that you can be aware of is not the ground state. The ground state is beyond awareness. It simply cannot be speculated or extrapolated in anyaway because of ‘neti, neti’.

        • Chris Thompson  On July 21, 2014 at 12:17 AM

          “I interpret ‘neti,neti’ differently. It means to me that anything that you can be aware of is not the ground state. The ground state is beyond awareness. It simply cannot be speculated or extrapolated in anyaway because of ‘neti, neti’.”

          I have no idea why you write that you interpret neti neti differently than I do. I totally agree with what you just wrote. And yet, there we are arguing about what we cannot be aware of. Arguing about our conjectures about something which by definition is not something seems fruitless, doesn’t it?

        • vinaire  On July 21, 2014 at 7:50 AM

          There is no argument then 🙂

          It reminds me of a Hindi song in which two lovers are alone on an outing in a rowboat. Each loves the other very much and wants to spend rest of the life together. But neither knows about the feelings of the other. Neither of them wants to broach the subject for fear of rejection. So do not bring up their feelings. But during their innocent conversation they both realize how much they love each other. They end up not broaching the subject but their anxiety has disappeared.

        • Chris Thompson  On July 22, 2014 at 12:57 AM

          hehe, yeah.

        • vinaire  On July 20, 2014 at 2:20 PM

          I shall apply the process of ‘neti, neti’ to any conclusion you make. 🙂

        • Chris Thompson  On July 21, 2014 at 12:17 AM

          “I shall apply the process of ‘neti, neti’ to any conclusion you make. :)”

          And thus, we agreed.

  • vinaire  On July 17, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    One comes down gradually from higher to lower disturbance levels.

  • vinaire  On July 17, 2014 at 7:47 PM

    I think awareness goes up and down in terms of its highest disturbance level, just like one’s blood pressure goes up and down.

    Meditation gradually brings down a person’s disturbance level to a more optimum level during the operating state.

    During the non-operating state the disturbance level may go way down much closer to the ground state.

    If the average disturbance level really gets low most of the time, then it may even slow down the aging process.

  • vinaire  On October 2, 2014 at 8:14 AM

    Reference: Universe and Awareness

    Samsara is awareness on this side of the curtain. Mahamudra lies in non-awareness on the other side of the curtain. Let go of conceptualization. Let go of awareness altogether and there will be awakening on the other side of the curtain.

    The dichotomy of awareness and non-awareness is there in the mind. Mahamudra is the non-awareness part of the mind, which is rarely explored. Here we come across the real nature of the mind. Here is the base above which everything else made of awareness floats.This base cannot be expressed ever.

    It is just a vantage point of awareness.

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