Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Reflections on Maitripa - Essential Mahamudra Verses

To innermost bliss, I pay homage!

Were I to explain Mahamudra, I would say—
All phenomena? Your own mind!
If you look outside for meaning, you'll get confused.
Phenomena are like a dream, empty of true nature,
And mind is merely the flux of awareness,
No self nature: just energy flow.
No true nature: just like the sky.
All phenomena are alike, sky-like.

That's Mahamudra, as we call it.
It doesn't have an identity to show;
For that reason, the nature of mind
Is itself the very state of Mahamudra
(Which is not made up, and does not change).
If you realize this basic reality
You recognize all that comes up, all that goes on,
as Mahamudra,
The all-pervading dharma-body.

Rest in the true nature, free of fabrication.
Meditate without searching for dharma-body—
It is devoid of thought.
If your mind searches, your meditation will be confused.

Because it's like space, or like a magical show,
There is neither meditation or non-meditation,
How could you be separate or inseparable?
That's how a yogi sees it!

Then, aware of all good and bad stuff as the basic reality,
You become liberated.
Neurotic emotions are great awareness,
They're to a yogi as trees are to a fire—FUEL!

What are notions of going or staying?
Or, for that matter, "meditating" in solitude?
If you don't get this,
You free yourself only on the surface.

But if you do get it, what can ever fetter you?
Abide in an undistracted state.
Trying to adjust body and mind won't produce meditation.
Trying to apply techniques won't produce meditation either.

See, nothing is ultimately established.
Know what appears to have no intrinsic nature.
Appearances perceived: reality's realm, self-liberated.
Thought that perceives: spacious awareness, self-liberated.
Non-duality, sameness [of perceiver and perceived]: the dharma-body.

Like a wide stream flowing non-stop,
Whatever the phase, it has meaning
And is forever the awakened state—
Great bliss without samsaric reference.

All phenomena are empty of intrinsic nature
And the mind that clings to emptiness dissolves in its own ground.
Freedom from conceptual activity
Is the path of all the Buddhas.

I've put together these lines
That they may last for aeons to come.
By this virtue, may all beings without exception
Abide in the great state of Mahamudra.


This was Maitripa's Essential Mahamudra Instruction (in Tibetan: Phyag rgya chen po tshig bsdus pa), received from Maitripa himself and translated by the Tibetan translator Marpa Chökyi Lodrö.

© Nicole Riggs 1999.

I've long had this very soft spot for Maitripa. Seems like somehow how teachings resonate through me more readily than Naropa's, which more often feature in the lineage figures of the Karma Kagyu. Though several streams are acknowledged, the one that passes through Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa etc seems the one usually featured stage front. Yet Saraha and Maitripa are in the mix too ... and in some ways for me are especially potent as they have the emphasis on ease, on self-liberation, on essence, and on letting go which I see most readily in Tilopa amongst the more common lineage.

Maybe it's because my path has often been one marked by struggle that this ease appeals so deeply to me? Not that I'm just wishful thinking, and 'choosing' it somehow as it's how I would like things to be, in distinction to how I experience things to be.

No, it's more of the nature of recognising that there is this other route, one marked more by ease and letting go rather than conflict and heroic effort, and that this other route is opening out for me at this time in particular, as something seems ripe and ready.

"the mind that clings to emptiness dissolves in its own ground" is especially potent - the utter groundlessness of experience, nothing to cling onto, nothing to hold onto, nothing to stand on ... not even emptiness ... which is empty in and of itself. It's not as if we see through appearances, and then find something deeper, something behind them, something somehow more 'real' than them. Emptiness isn't a thing in itself, something we can attach to ... it's the utter groundlessness of all experience, which isn't exempt from groundlessness itself! .. you will not find this groundlessness anywhere, so don't try to cling to it. The abyss of emptiness, this was called once.

"I've put together these lines
That they may last for aeons to come."
- is there any possible way to convey how blessed I am, and any other being with interest in this, to have these precious teachings in the palms of my hands? There are no words adequate to express my gratitude.

How extraordinary that these teachings have not only survived the ages and reached 21st century 'me' ... but that they seem to retain the extraordinary potency which survives untouched .. as experience never differs, but mere appearances in their mirage-like display.

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