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.

~Translated into English by Nicole Riggs

* Un-compounded?

The Indian siddha, Maitripa, was a contemporary and a student of Naropa’s (early 11th century,) among whose other students were Paindapa, Chitherpa, Jnanagarbha, and Shri Shantibhadra (aka  Kukuripa.)  He was one of Marpa the Tibetan translator’s main teachers.  In his formative years, he studied at Vikramashila, then under the direction of Bengali master, Atisha.  He was supposedly expelled for being the focus of scandal.  This left him free to pursue enlightenment under his guru, Shavari.

Since Maitri-pa is not mentioned in Abhayadatta’s 84 Mahasiddhas, some suppose that he is among those great yogis, but called by the epithet, Avadhuti-pa. Chushingi Nyemachen was Maitripa’s consort.