Tsering Lhamo Gagye Eve Talk on Four Yogas of Mahamudra

We are delighted to share with you the transcripts of two of our Gagye Eve talks. These brief talks are given by our monastic community at the conclusion of our winter retreat as a means to share what the community has been contemplating during our period of silence and practice. The second of these talks was given by Bhikshuni Tsering Lhamo on the Four Yogas of Mahamudra. Recently diagnosed with myeloma, Ani Lhamo spent most of Yarne in her bed practicing on this topic. We were all delighted at the opportunity to hear her give a talk on Gagye Eve. 


So glad to see all of you. So, I asked to be the first one, not because I am the best one. But because I am the weakest one [laughter]. If I want to survive, I need to go fast [laughter].

I’m going to talk about Mahamudra. I have been working on this now for more than two years. What I will say today is not something I prepared in these last weeks. I’m sorry that I was not with you in the Shrine Room but I was there, I was practicing myself.

I will give my sources, and then I will give my title.

As I told you, I have been working with Mahamudra for maybe two years. Last year at the Yarne retreat in Pema Choling where I was, I presented the same topic. I prepared to talk about the Four Yogas of Mahamudra. This is an extensive talk. I can add as much as I want on each of the yogas. So, it is a very easy way to have a talk prepared if it happens that you need to give one.

I have many sources: Traleg Rinpoche, Mind at Ease and Moonbeams of Mahamudra, Thrangu Rinpoche with Vivid Awareness which is a book of teachings from Khenpo Gangshar who was the teacher of Thrangu Rinpoche and Trungpa Rinpoche and who wrote a book called Naturally Liberating Whatever you Meet. Which is absolutely something I wanted to stay with because I was myself in that kind of situation. The third source is Tsultrim Gyatso Rinpoche. I found on the offered table his book Mahamudra: Shamatha and Vipassana which is a treasury of knowledge. Then a set of talks by Changling Rinpoche about naturally liberating whatever you meet. I read this last year but I kept very precisely all the notes that I had on the book and I went back there sometimes just to refresh my mind.


The Four Yogas of Mahamudra

It will be a short talk. It could be that I give just the title and it could be that I elaborate a little more.

The Four Yogas of Mahamudra. There are at least two lists that I have seen. One is: one-pointedness, one-taste, non-conceptuality, and non-meditation. But this is not the list that I’m talking about. I don’t know why there are two lists and I would like to know. Next year probably this would be my project: to compare the two lists.

The one I have formulates things differently. It comes from Vivid Awareness. The first in this list is ‘appearances are mind.’

Appearances are mind. What does this mean? It means whatever enters into our senses appears in our consciousness, but it’s not the thing really. There’s an operation that we’re doing that makes this thing appear in my mind without being the thing itself. This is what we could call appearances. The material thing is not coming into my mind, but my mind ‘remembers?’ this thing. You understand what I’m saying? [laughter]

So it’s how the mind is able to, with the senses, get the information from what appears around, and then get it together inside without taking the thing inside. This is called appearances.

One other aspect of appearances is conceptuality. How we can, with a word, attach an idea. For example, if I say the word ‘tree.’ A tree is roots, trunks, and leaves and I have a definition in one little word. And that word fits for all the trees. This is concept. So this kind of tool is absolutely useful. This is our means of communication.

So we have appearances coming from the senses. We have appearances when we are talking about concepts and we have appearances when we are talking about emotions or feelings. The three of them are between body and into mind. The three of them also constitutes the veil that is making our mind not connect directly with the object itself. It’s like a screen, a screen of events. We have to remember that all this screen is made by mind. So, it’s the same nature of the mind, and it’s always there.

So, appearances are mind, this is the first of the yogas. Yoga means union. It means relating two things together so that they are united.

Appearances are mind, then, ‘mind is empty.’ So, these appearances are empty also. What does it mean that the mind is empty? I spent four months [laughter] hours after hours after hours after hours in Sopa Choling working with, where is mind? Where is mind? What is mind? Is mind there or here? What color is mind? What form is mind?

So, it may look silly to do such a thing for four months. But we could also remember that forever we have been thinking that we have a self and we never went through the interrogation of where is that self? So when we are doing that interrogation of, where is the mind? We are doing exactly that operation. We are dissociating these two things.

Mind is empty. That means it doesn’t exist. Even if you look wherever you want. You will never find it and for four months you are investigating something knowing in advance that you won’t find anything [laughter]. So what are you doing during that time? You are working with your own conviction. You can say: ‘I really did it. Four months and I didn’t find anything.’ This was just to help myself become convinced of the power of my mind to fabricate things. So, the second one, mind is empty.

The third one, emptiness is spontaneous presence. This emptiness is creating these appearances that are there all the time. Another expression would be, mind is luminous. Because in the phenomena of luminosity we have radiation. Mind is radiating. These radiations are what is produced continuously and is the entertainment of our mind. Concepts and images, imagination. Everything, everything, everything. So spontaneously, mind is creating these appearances. Mind is creating these spontaneous presences.

This spontaneous presence, good news, is self-liberation. This means, it appears and it disappears. And you do not have to do anything for them to appear and disappear. Why is this good news? It is because we can use it to work with kleshas. If the kleshas are appearing and disappearing by themselves. You just let them go. The only problem is that we have a tendency to hold onto them. We hold on to things because we want to prove to ourselves that we exist and we want to protect ourselves and we want to make things more definite. Other than that, you know, things would go by themselves. When we are angry, where does it come from? We cannot find the place where it was fabricated and we cannot find the place where it goes. But it disappears after a while. You cannot stay angry for six months. After a while it disappears. We just have to be very patient [laughter].

So, what we can say about the kleshas is that we have many means to work with them. You may know that all by heart. Renunciation. We just go away from there. Or antidotes, we just do the reverse. We go in the opposite direction. If we are greedy, we just become generous. The third way would be transforming like we do in the sadhanas. We jump into the solution. We are this wisdom already. The fourth one is self-liberation. So this is the title of the book of Khenpo Gangshar. Naturally Liberating Whatever You Meet. To me this is like a treasury because I met something [laughter].

So this is what I wanted to say.