Jewel Ornament of Liberation

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Jewel Ornament of Liberation (T. dam chos yid bzhin nor bu rin po che'i rgyan དམ་ཆོས་ཡིད་བཞིན་གྱི་ནོར་བུ་ཐར་པ་རིན་པོ་ཆེའི་རྒྱན་; alt. dwags po thar rgyan དྭགས་པོ་ཐར་རྒྱན་), or Ornament of Precious Liberation is a key text in the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism that is said to capture the essence of both the Kadampa and Kagyüpa lineages of Mahayana teachings. The text was written by Gampopa, the foremost disciple of Milarepa.

Contemporary translator Ken Holmes writes:

Ornament of Precious Liberation is the main textbook for the study of Mahayana Buddhism in the Kagyü monastic schools and colleges. It is seen as a meditator’s textbook, inasmuch as it is not an eloquent, scholarly masterpiece or an elaborate discussion but a need-to-know manual of essentials for a meditator. The language is down to earth and direct. The eminent twentieth-century Tibetan scholar Kyapjé Kalu Rinpoché, recognized as an authority by lamas of all Tibetan schools, presented this text as an enlightened being’s (i.e., Gampopa’s) overview of the vast scriptures of nontantric Buddhism and commented, “Even if you want to spend the rest of your life meditating in a cave, you must know Gampopa’s Ornament of Precious Liberation by heart and you must understand Maitreya’s buddha-nature teachings.” In this work, Gampopa carefully picks out the most salient points on each topic and, more importantly, provides students with an overall Dharma framework of topics into which subsequent studies can easily be slotted. Gampopa is always careful to back up his statements or summaries with quotations from the two main Indian Mahayana lineages. Although this is a textbook for Vajrayana meditators, the work remains exclusively a Mahayana treatise except for one or two minor references to his guru Milarepa and to the practice of Mahāmudrā.[1]


The text is structured around the following points:

  1. The cause is the buddha nature.
  2. The support is the most precious human body.
  3. The circumstance is the spiritual friend.
  4. The method consists of his instructions.
  5. The result consists of the kayas of perfect buddhahood.
  6. The activity is the spontaneous accomplishment of beings’ benefit.


  • Gampopa, Ornament of Precious Liberation, translated by Ken Holmes, Wisdom, 2017
  • Gampopa, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation : the Wish-fulfilling Gem of the Noble Teachings, translated Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche, Snow Lion, 1998
  • sGam Po Pa, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, translated by Herbert V. Guenther, Shambhala, 1986


In English

  • Ringu Tulku, Path to Buddhahood: Teachings on Gampopa's Jewel Ornament of Liberation, Shambhala, 2003

Tibetan Text


  1. Gampopa, Ornament of Precious Liberation, translated by Ken Holmes, Wisdom, 2017 (page 1)

Further Reading

  • David Seyfort Ruegg, ‘A Propos of a Recent Contribution to Tibetan and Buddhist Studies’ in Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 82, No. 3 (Jul. - Sep., 1962), pp. 320- 331