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Mahamudra Tantra

– An Introduction to Meditation on Tantra
Mahamudra is the union of the most subtle mind that experiences great bliss and realizes ultimate truth - the way things actually exist. From his practical experience, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso explains how to prepare our mind for Mahamudra meditation, how to remove obstacles to successful practice, and how we can experience progressively subtler states of mind. By explaining how to uncover and purify the deepest level of our mind and to use this very subtle blissful mind to meditate on ultimate truth, he shows how we can destroy all our negative minds at their very root and quickly reach the state of full enlightenment.
"I've read many books on Tantra, but this one is by far the clearest. If you are serious about engaging in these meditations, a better book would be hard to find."

"... this book renders everything so clearly that I would propose this book as both an excellent introduction to Buddhist practice and for those seeking to complete the training."
FormatISBN Price Qty
Audiobook (CD)9780954879037
Audiobook (mp3)5055278100650

Mahamudra Tantra - Front Cover

Mahamudra Tantra - Front Cover



Illustrations vii
Preface ix
PART ONE: Introduction to Tantra
Basic View 3
Basic Intention 9
What is Tantra? 17
The Tantra of Generation Stage 23
The Tantra of Completion Stage 31
What is Mahamudra? 55
PART TWO: How to Train in Mahamudra
The Preliminary Guide 77
The Six Stages of Training in Mahamudra: 99
Identifying Our Own Mind 100
Realizing Our Mind Directly 107
Identifying Our Subtle Mind 109
Realizing Our Subtle Mind Directly 112
Identifying Our Very Subtle Mind 113
Realizing Our Very Subtle Mind Directly 113
PART THREE: What is Emptiness?
What is Emptiness? 117
The Purpose of Meditating on Emptiness 118
The Emptiness of Our Body 129
The Emptiness of Our Mind 139
The Emptiness of Our I 141
Conventional and Ultimate Truths 154
The Union of the Two Truths 162
The Practice of Emptiness in Our Daily Activities 168
Dedication 173
Appendix I – An Explanation of Channels 175
Appendix II – An Explanation of Inner Winds 185
Appendix III – The Root Tantra of Heruka and
Appendix IV – Liberating Prayer 205
Appendix V – A Handbook for the Daily Practice of
Bodhisattva Vows and Tantric Vows
Appendix VI – Heart Jewel 223
Appendix VII – Vajra Hero Yoga 239
Glossary 255
Bibliography 275
Study Programmes of Kadampa Buddhism 281
Tharpa Offices Worldwide 287
Index 289
Buddha Shakyamuni 2
Bodhisattva Manjushri 10
Je Tsongkhapa 18
Togden Jampel Gyatso 24
Baso Chokyi Gyaltsen 30
Drubchen Dharmavajra 36
Gyalwa Ensepa 48
Khedrub Sangye Yeshe 58
Panchen Losang Chokyi Gyaltsen 62
Drubchen Gendun Gyaltsen 68
Drungpa Tsondru Gyaltsen 76
Konchog Gyaltsen 82
Panchen Losang Yeshe 88
Losang Trinlay 98
Drubwang Losang Namgyal 104
Kachen Yeshe Gyaltsen 110
Phurchog Ngawang Jampa 116
Panchen Palden Yeshe 122
Khedrub Ngawang Dorje 128
Ngulchu Dharmabhadra 134
Yangchen Drubpay Dorje 140
Khedrub Tendzin Tsondru 148
Dorjechang Phabongkha Trinlay Gyatso 156
Yongdzin Dorjechang Losang Yeshe 166
Dorjechang Kelsang Gyatso Rinpoche (included at
the request of faithful disciples)
The nada (reproduced to the size at which it should be
Commitment objects: kapala, vajra, bell, damaru, vase, mala 218
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Also by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

Meaningful to Behold

Clear Light of Bliss

Heart of Wisdom

Universal Compassion

Joyful Path of Good Fortune

Guide to Dakini Land

The Bodhisattva Vow

Heart Jewel

Great Treasury of Merit

Introduction to Buddhism

Understanding the Mind

Tantric Grounds and Paths

Ocean of Nectar

Essence of Vajrayana

Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully

Eight Steps to Happiness

Transform Your Life

The New Meditation Handbook

How to Solve Our Human Problems

Profits received from the sale of
this book will be donated to the
NKT-International Temples Project
A Buddhist Charity,
Building for World Peace








First published 2005.
Reprinted 2006, 2008.

The right of Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
to be identified as author of this work
has been asserted by him in accordance with
the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced
in any form or by any means except for the quotation
of brief passages for the purpose of private
study, research, or review.

Tharpa Publications UK Office
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LA12 9QQ, England

Tharpa Publications US Office
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Glen Spey
NY 12737, USA

Tharpa Publications has offices around the world.
See page 287 for contact details.

Tharpa books are published in most major languages.
See page 287 for details.

© New Kadampa Tradition-International Kadampa Buddhist Union 2005.

Library of Congress Control Number: 2005923969

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data
Kelsang Gyatso, 1931-
Mahamudra Tantra:
an introduction to meditation on Tantra
1. Mahamudra (Tantric rite)
2. Meditation - Tantric Buddhism
1. Title

ISBN 978 0948006 93 7 – paperback
ISBN 978 0948006 94 4 – hardback

Set in Palatino by Tharpa Publications.

Printed on Wentworth Opaque, acid-free 250-year longlife paper and bound by The Cromwell Press, Trowbridge, Wiltshire, England.



This book, which I have prepared for the people of this modern world, is a practical guide to discovering the real meaning of human life. Generally, according to our common experience, there is no real meaning in this ordinary human life. Many old people or those very close to dying understand how human life is empty and hollow. Throughout our life we try very hard to accumulate so many things such as wealth and possessions, but finally without choice everything that belonged to us passes to others; we can carry nothing with us to our next life. The real meaning of human life is finding and following the correct path to enlightenment, and the supreme correct path to enlightenment is Highest Yoga Tantra, especially Mahamudra Tantra.

If we sincerely wish to practise the instructions on Mahamudra Tantra presented in this book, we should first receive the empowerment of Buddha Heruka and gain complete understanding of the meaning of these instructions. Then, through putting these instructions into practice, we can fulfil our ultimate goal.


Geshe Kelsang Gyatso

January 2005, Happy New Year!


Introduction to Tantra

Basic View

Mahamudra Tantra is a quick method for attaining enlightenment, and the instructions on this practice are very profound. For our practice of Mahamudra to be effective we need a firm foundation in basic correct view and intention. Just as we cannot build a house properly without a basic foundation, we cannot practise Mahamudra effectively without first accomplishing this basis, and without understanding its meaning clearly.

Our normal view is that our daily experiences, whether unpleasant or pleasant, come from external sources. Following this view we dedicate our whole life to improving our external conditions and situation, but still our human problems and suffering increase year by year. This clearly indicates that our normal view is incorrect, and only deceives us. Incorrect views and intentions cause us to follow wrong paths that lead to suffering, whereas correct views and intentions enable us to follow spiritual paths that lead to happiness.

In this context, ‘paths’ do not mean external paths that lead from one place to another. We do not need to study external paths as we can see them directly with our eyes. ‘Paths’ here refer to internal paths, which are by nature our actions. Actions of body, speech and mind that are motivated by ignorance are wrong paths because they lead to suffering, and actions that are motivated by wisdom are correct paths – or spiritual paths – because they lead to happiness.

Because there are different levels of happiness, such as the happiness of liberation and enlightenment, there are different levels of spiritual paths, such as the path to liberation and the path to enlightenment. These paths can be further divided into the path of accumulation, the path of preparation, the path of seeing, the path of meditation and the Path of No More Learning. Moreover, because there are different levels of suffering, such as the sufferings of humans, animals and hell beings, there are different levels of wrong paths, such as those that lead to rebirth as a human being, animal or hell being. By studying the different types of paths presented by Buddha we can distinguish between correct and incorrect paths, and thereby avoid incorrect paths. Then, by entering, making progress on and completing correct spiritual paths, we can attain enlightenment and thus accomplish the real purpose of our human life.

In Guide to the Middle Way the famous Buddhist scholar Chandrakirti lists seven types of internal path:

1         Actions that lead to the happiness of great enlightenment

2         Actions that lead to liberation

3         Actions that lead to rebirth as a god

4         Actions that lead to rebirth as a human being

5         Actions that lead to rebirth as an animal

6         Actions that lead to rebirth as a hungry spirit

7         Actions that lead to rebirth as a hell being

The first two are supramundane paths, which are correct spiritual paths that lead to great enlightenment and liberation. There are many levels of these paths corresponding to the many levels of spiritual attainment that are explained in teachings on the stages of the path, Lamrim. For example, The New Meditation Handbook explains twenty-one different meditations that accomplish twenty-one spiritual paths, or stages of the path to enlightenment. Traditionally, the first of these is strong reliance on our Spiritual Guide. As Je Tsongkhapa says in Prayer of the Stages of the Path:

The path begins with strong reliance

On my kind Teacher, source of all good.

All these twenty-one stages of the path, beginning with reliance on our Spiritual Guide, are spiritual paths that lead to pure and everlasting happiness.

The remaining five paths listed by Chandrakirti are mundane paths, which are incorrect paths that lead to states of suffering. They are also called ‘contaminated actions’ because they are motivated or contaminated by the inner poisons of self-cherishing and self-grasping ignorance. Even virtuous actions that are motivated by self-grasping ignorance, and that lead to human rebirth, are contaminated actions. In our previous lives, motivated by the delusion of self-grasping, we performed virtuous actions such as observing moral discipline. This action was the main cause of our present human rebirth, but because it was contaminated by delusions our present human rebirth is a contaminated rebirth. Because we have taken a contaminated rebirth as a human being, we have no choice but to experience the various kinds of human suffering.

Our present experiences of particular suffering and problems have a specific connection with particular actions we performed in the past. This hidden connection is subtle and not easy to understand. We cannot see it with our eyes, but we can understand it through using our wisdom, and especially through relying upon Buddha’s teachings.

Why do we suffer and experience so many problems? Suffering and problems are not given to us as a punishment. Whenever we experience difficulties we usually blame others, but in reality it is because we have taken a contaminated human rebirth as a result of contaminated actions that arose from our own self-grasping and self-cherishing. Our human rebirth is the basis of all our human suffering and problems. Animals have to experience various kinds of animal suffering and problems because they have taken a contaminated animal rebirth. This is also true for hell beings, hungry spirits and even the gods of the desire realm; all living beings experience suffering because they have taken a contaminated rebirth. Such rebirths are the nature of suffering, and are the basis of all unhappiness and problems.

If we use our human rebirth for spiritual practice it becomes meaningful, but otherwise its nature is suffering: it is a manifestation of the poisonous mind of self-grasping. If a seed is poisonous, its resultant crop is poisonous. Similarly, because the cause – a contaminated rebirth – is like poison, its effects are inevitably poisonous and painful.

Contaminated rebirth is like a deep and boundless great ocean, and our problems and sufferings are like waves continually arising from it. We have been in this great ocean since beginningless time, taking contaminated rebirths in life after life. If we do not achieve permanent liberation from taking contaminated rebirths in this life, we shall have to remain in the ocean of suffering for countless future lifetimes; this suffering will never end naturally by itself. For as long as we remain in this great ocean, our bodies will be eaten again and again by the sea monsters of the Lord of Death, and we shall constantly have to experience new rebirths. Then, in each new life, we shall have to experience the suffering and problems of that particular life. If we are born human we have no choice but to experience human suffering and problems, and if we are born an animal we have to experience animal suffering and problems. This cycle of contaminated rebirth and suffering, which is called ‘samsara’, revolves continually, for life after life, endlessly.

Our contaminated rebirth is our own samsara. Although none of us wants to suffer, because we are in samsara suffering arises naturally without choice. It takes great wisdom to recognize our own samsara and to understand that this is our real situation. The understanding and belief that our own samsara – our contaminated rebirth – is the source and basis of all our suffering and problems is the basic correct view that leads us to the attainment of liberation and enlightenment. Developing and maintaining such a non-deceptive view is the basis for effective practice of Mahamudra Tantra, which is the actual method to cut the continuum of contaminated rebirth.

When, through contemplating these instructions, we understand clearly that all our daily problems and suffering come from our own samsara, we shall strongly believe, from the depths of our heart, that it is extremely important to abandon our own contaminated rebirth and attain permanent liberation from suffering. We should exert great effort in maintaining this beneficial view day and night without forgetting it.

While maintaining this view, we should then consider other living beings. Compared with others our own problems and sufferings are insignificant because others are countless while we ourselves are each just one single person. The happiness and freedom of countless living beings are more important than the happiness and freedom of one single person – ourself. It is therefore inappropriate to be concerned only with our own liberation. We should develop instead the superior view that cherishes all living beings and maintain this day and night, never allowing ourself to forget it.

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Mahamudra Tantra - Paperback
Details: 312 pages includes 26 line illustrations
Language: English (UK)
ISBN: 9780948006937
Size: 19.8 x 12.9 x 1.6cm
Mahamudra Tantra - Hardback
Details: 312 pages includes 26 line illustrations
Language: English (UK)
ISBN: 9780948006944
Size: 19.8 x 12.9 x 2.4cm
Mahamudra Tantra - Audiobook CD
Audiobook (CD)
Details: 4 CDs, total duration 5 hrs
Language: English (UK)
ISBN: 9780954879037
Size: 12.5 x 14.1 x 2.1cm
Mahamudra Tantra
Audiobook (mp3)
Details: Total duration 5hrs, cover artwork included
Language: English (UK)
ISBN: 5055278100650

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