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Lotsawa Marpa Chokyi Lodro, (1012-1097)

Mahāmudrā (T. ཕྱག་རྒྱ་ཆེན་པོ་, phyag rgya chen po; C. dayin/dayshouyin), or ‘Great Seal’ is an important meditation tradition that flourished in Tibet. While this tradition is practised in by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism, it is particularly associated with the Kagyü lineage which passed from Maitripa and Naropa in India to Marpa Lotsawa in Tibet. In the Kagyu lineage, Mahamudara is regarded as the highest form of meditation practice.[1]

Ringu Tulku states: "The main point of Mahamudra is to see your true nature in a direct and experiential way. There is nothing greater than this, so it is called...great".[2]


Mudra means that it encompasses all phenomena of samsara, nirvana, and the path. In other words, they are 'sealed' within it. It is called maha or “great,” because nothing is superior to it.

Subdivisions or Levels of Interpretation

  • Mahamudra of the sutra system refers to the attainment of perfect enlightenment through the five paths and ten bhumis.
  • Tantric Mahamudra is related to the inner yogas and the practice of dzogrim.
  • Essence Mahamudra (Tib. ངོ་བོའི་ཕྱག་རྒྱ་ཆེན་པོ་, Wyl. ngo bo'i phyag rgya chenpo) is closer to Dzogchen and is described in terms of a meditative practice leading to the nature of mind.


Four yogas

See four yogas of Mahamudra

Relationship to Dzogchen

Jamgön Kongtrul said that Mahamudra corresponds to the Semdé teachings of Dzogpachenpo.[3]


  1. Buswell & Lopez 2014, s.v. Mahāmudrā.
  2. Ringu Tulku 2012, Chapter 7.
  3. *Ringu Tulku, The Ri-me Philosophy of Jamgön Kongtrul the Great, Shambhala Publications, 2006


  • Ringu Tulku (2012), Confusion Arises as Wisdom—Gampopa's Heart Advice on the Path of Mahamudra, Shambhala 
  • RW icon height 18px.png Mahamudra

Further Reading

  • Dakpo Tashi Namgyal, Mahamudra, The Moonlight: Quintessence of Mind and Meditation, translated by Lobsang P. Lhalungpa, Wisdom Publications, 2nd ed. 2006.
  • Dzogchen Ponlop, Wild Awakening: The Heart of Mahamudra & Dzogchen (Boston: Shambhala, 2004)
  • Jackson, Roger R. and Kapstein, Matthew T. (ed.) Mahāmudrā and the bKa´-brgyud Tradition [PIATS 2006: Proceedings of the Eleventh Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies. Königswinter 2006], 2011
  • Jackson, Roger R. Mind Seeing Mind: Mahāmudrā and the Geluk Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism (Wisdom, 2019)
  • Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, Crystal Clear: Practical Advice for Mahamudra Meditators, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang, Ragjung Yeshe, 2004.
  • Ringu Tulku, Confusion Arises as Wisdom—Gampopa's Heart Advice on the Path of Mahamudra (Shambhala, 2012)
  • Roberts, Peter Alan. Mahamudra and Related Instructions: Core Teachings of the Kagyü Schools, Library of Tibetan Classics (Wisdom Publications, 2011)
  • Roberts, Peter Alan. The Mind of Mahamudra: Advice from the Kagyu Masters, translated and introduced by Peter Alan Roberts (London: Wisdom Publications, 2015)
  • Tsele Natsok Rangdrol, Lamp of Mahamudra, Shambhala, 1989.

External Links

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