The Profound Inner Principles

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The Profound Inner Principles also known as Profound Inner Meaning or 'Zabmo Nangdon' (Tibetan: ཟབ་མོ་ནང་དོནWylie: zab mo nang don) is a 14th century treatise[1] and major work of 'Rangjung Dorje' (Tibetan: རང་འབྱུང་རྡོ་རྗེWylie: rang 'byung rdo rje) (1284–1339), the third Karmapa, born to a Nyingma family he received the full transmission of the Nyingma tradition, in addition to the Karma Kagyu.

Nomenclature, orthography and etymology

Rangjung Dorje, (1284–1339)

'Rangjung Dorje' (Tibetan: རང་འབྱུང་རྡོ་རྗེWylie: rang 'byung rdo rje)


Rangjung Dorje was a noted scholar who composed many significant texts, the most famous of which is the Profound Inner Meaning (Wylie: zab mo nang don[2]), which concern the Vajrayana inner yoga practices.

Schaeffer (1995: p. 16) advises that the text is 'verse' (Sanskrit: karika) in eleven chapters regarding the Anuttarayogatantras:

"Rang byung's most famous, and perhaps most difficult work is yet another verse text, his Zab mo nang don, on the Anuttarayogatantras. This eleven-chapter work is thirty-two folios in length. According to a colophon provided by Kong sprul, it was written in the Water Male Dog year, 1322, at Bde chen steng. The colophons to the present redactions say only that it was written in the Dog Year."[3]


The text and its commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye has been translated in English by Elizabeth M. Callahan. It was published in 2013 by Shambhala Publications.[4]



The first chapter covers the 'causes' (Sanskrit: hetu) and 'conditions' (Sanskrit: pratyaya) for Samsara and Nirvana. The second chapter discusses the esoteric understanding of the development of the body in the womb which has direct relevance to the Generation stage. The text then discusses Nadis, the five 'winds' Prana/Vayu (Sanskrit) and 'breathwork' (Sanskrit: pranayama) and the 'Four States' which are stages of the Generation Phase. Correspondence between 'inner' and 'outer' which broaches nonduality and the Two truths. 'Imputed deities' which discusses the yoga of the 'illusory body', yidam and trulpa. 'Bases' discusses the Eighteen Dhatu and Upaya. Ten, discusses Bhumi and Lamrim. Chapter eleven closes with Completion stage.


The Tsadra Foundation (2008) lists the following chapters in the Profound Inner Meaning, also rendered into English:

  • Introduction
  • One: The Causes and Conditions for Saṃsāra and Nirvāṇa
  • Two: Development of Body in Womb
  • Three: Nāḍīs
  • Four: Prāṇas
  • Five: Bindus
  • Six: The Four States
  • Seven: Correspondence between Inner and Outer
  • Eight: Imputed Deities
  • Nine: Bases and Means of Purification
  • Ten: Stages of the Path
  • Eleven: Dissolution
  • Conclusion: Vidyādhara piṭaka[5]


Jamgon Kongtrul did a commentary on the text which has been given the English gloss 'Illuminating the Profound Meaning: a Commentary to The Profound Inner Meaning (Zabdon Nangjey)'.


  • Karmapa III, Rangjung Dorje. zab mo nang gi don zhes bya ba'i gzhung and rnal 'byor bla med pa'i rgyud sde rgya mtsho'i snying po bsdus pa zab mo nang gi don nyung ngu'i tshig gis rnam par 'grol ba zab don snang byed. (The Profound Inner Meaning.) Rumtek, Sikkim: Karmapa'i chos sgar, n.d.[6]

See also


  1. D.K. Nauriyal, Michael Drummond, Y.B. Lal, Buddhist Thought and Applied Psychological Research: Transcending the Boundaries, Routledge, 2006, ISBN 1134189885, p. 70
  2. Dharma Dictionary (2008). zab mo nang don. Source: [1] (accessed: January 29, 2008)
  3. Schaeffer, Kurtis R. (1995). The Englightened Heart of Buddhahood: A Study and Translation of the Third Karma pa Rang byung rdo rje's Work on Tathagatagarbha. (Wylie: de bzhin pa'i snying po gtan la dbab pa). University of Washington. Source: [2] (accessed: Friday February 12, 2010), p.16.
  4. The Profound Inner Principles, Shambhala Publications
  5. Source: [3] (accessed: Friday February 12, 2010)
  6. Kongtrul, Jamgon; Thrangu; Harding, Sarah (translator) (1996). Creation and completion: essential points of tantric meditation. Wisdom Publications. ISBN 0-86171-312-5, ISBN 978-0-86171-312-7 Source: [4] (accessed: Friday February 12, 2010), p.180.
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