Path of Transformation» Meditation

What is Mahamudra?


Mahamudra, Phakchok Rinpoche explains, is a combination of three strains of teaching. It encompasses the teachings of the Buddha, teachings based on the realization of great masters, and elements of the Vajrayana tradition from the tantras. The word “Maha” means great. And “mudra” in this context can mean realization or understanding. Literally, we often translate mudra as “seal”, but Rinpoche prefers to translate the meaning . We can therefore say Mahamudra means “Great Understanding”.

Rinpoche says there are many different meditation methods taught in the Buddhist context. Mahamudra is a very safe and gradual process of practice. He explains that although Samye Institute offers Mahamudra Level One as a one-year course, he himself did these practices for many years. Observing his weaknesses as he continued to practice led to good results. If we only train the bare minimum of one hour per day for one year, we will not develop so well. These days to maintain student interest and excitement we need to introduce new material and new techniques more frequently. Traditionally, one works a long time with one technique, observing the mind and habits and their transformation.

Is it important to practice Mahamudra meditation? Emphatically yes! Rinpoche explains that people who wish to practice Dzogchen, the Great Perfection, this gradual training removes many obstacles and makes it easier to recognize the nature of mind. The foundation given here is crucial.

There are three divisions of Mahamudra:

  1. Sutra Mahamudra
  2. Tantra Mahamudra
  3. Pith Instruction Mahamudra

These three are combined and are taught in accordance with the abilities of the student. It is a unique system and it is important to follow it slowly and carefully.

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