Tilopa

 

Tilopa is a very interesting character.

He was born in the 10th century in India of royal descent, and lived as King, but was dissatisfied with that life. He had a vision of a dakini who told him to go and seek enlightenment so he became a wandering Yogi.

He met the famous sage Nagarjuna, who saw his capacity, and told him to return and serve his people as King. This he did, but later re-adopted the life of a mendicant and even went so far as to chain his legs together for 12 years while meditating in a cave, so as to persist with his practice.

After that, still not fully awakened, he was informed by one of his teachers, a dakini called Matongha, that because he still had kingly pride, arrogance and a sense of separation from the ordinary people, that he must to go work for a local prostitute. During the day he worked in her business grinding sesame seeds, and in the evening he solicited clients for the prostitute.

One day while pounding sesame seeds to extract oil he attained full enlightenment and levitated above the palm trees in the village. News spread of the wonder and one of the first villagers on the scene was the prostitute, who having expressed her shame to him was given a flower by him, and became instantly enlightened herself and levitated also.

Tilopa used the metaphor of the sesame seed in his teachings….indeed the word Til means sesame seed and that is how he got the name he is known by…

”Tilopa explained that although a sesame seed contains oil, it cannot produce oil by itself; without the hard work of grinding the seed, the oil cannot be extracted. So although buddha nature is within every living being, without the hard work of practicing the Dharma, there is no way to realize our inherent buddha nature.”

http://www.kagyu.org/kagyulineage/lineage/kag02.php


He is famous for the quote…

No thought, no reflection, no analysis, no cultivation, no intention; let it settle itself.

But his most famous teaching are the 28 verses on Mahamudra which is one of the most important Vajrayana Buddhist texts. It is basically advaita…non-dualism, and states that the mind as we experience it is not real…

  Tilopa’s Mahamudra Instruction to Naropa
in Twenty Eight Verses

Homage to the Eighty Four Mahasiddhas!
Homage to Mahamudra!
Homage to the Vajra Dakini!

Mahamudra cannot be taught. But most intelligent Naropa,
Since you have undergone rigorous austerity,
With forbearance in suffering and with devotion to your Guru,
Blessed One, take this secret instruction to heart.

Is space anywhere supported? Upon what does it rest?
Like space, Mahamudra is dependant upon nothing;
Relax and settle in the continuum of unalloyed purity,
And, your bonds loosening, release is certain.

Gazing intently into the empty sky, vision ceases;
Likewise, when mind gazes into mind itself,
The train of discursive and conceptual thought ends
And supreme enlightenment is gained.

Like the morning mist that dissolves into thin air,
Going nowhere but ceasing to be,
Waves of conceptualization, all the mind’s creation, dissolve,
When you behold your mind’s true nature.

Pure space has neither colour nor shape
And it cannot be stained either black or white;
So also, mind’s essence is beyond both colour and shape
And it cannot be sullied by black or white deeds.

The darkness of a thousand aeons is powerless
To dim the crystal clarity of the sun’s heart;
And likewise, aeons of samsara have no power
To veil the clear light of the mind’s essence.

Although space has been designated “empty”,
In reality it is inexpressible;
Although the nature of mind is called “clear light”,
Its every ascription is baseless verbal fiction.

It pervades and embraces all things under the sun.
Be still and stay relaxed in genuine ease,
Be quiet and let sound reverberate as an echo,

The body is essentially empty like the stem of a reed,
And the mind, like pure space, utterly transcends
the world of thought:
Relax into your intrinsic nature with neither abandon nor control –
Mind with no objective is Mahamudra –
And, with practice perfected, supreme enlightenment is gained.

…………………………….

Free of intellectual conceits, disavowing dogmatic principles,
The truth of every school and scripture is revealed.
Absorbed in Mahamudra, you are free from the prison of samsara;
Poised in Mahamudra, guilt and negativity are consumed;
And as master of Mahamudra you are the light of the Doctrine.

The fool in his ignorance, disdaining Mahamudra,
Knows nothing but struggle in the flood of samsara.
Have compassion for those who suffer constant anxiety!
Sick of unrelenting pain and desiring release, adhere to a master,
For when his blessing touches your heart, the mind is liberated.

KYE HO! Listen with joy!
Investment in samsara is futile; it is the cause of every anxiety.
Since worldly involvement is pointless, seek the heart of reality!

In the transcending of mind’s dualities is Supreme vision;
In a still and silent mind is Supreme Meditation;
In spontaneity is Supreme Activity;
And when all hopes and fears have died, the Goal is reached.

Beyond all mental images the mind is naturally clear:
Follow no path to follow the path of the Buddhas;
Employ no technique to gain supreme enlightenment.

KYE MA! Listen with sympathy!
With insight into your sorry worldly predicament,
Realising that nothing can last, that all is as dreamlike illusion,
Meaningless illusion provoking frustration and boredom,
Turn around and abandon your mundane pursuits.

Cut away involvement with your homeland and friends
And meditate alone in a forest or mountain retreat;
Exist there in a state of non-meditation
And attaining no-attainment, you attain Mahamudra.

A tree spreads its branches and puts forth leaves,
But when its root is cut its foliage withers;
So too, when the root of the mind is severed,
The branches of the tree of samsara die

A single lamp dispels the darkness of a thousand aeons;
Likewise, a single flash of the mind’s clear light
Erases aeons of karmic conditioning and spiritual blindness.

KYE HO! Listen with joy!
The truth beyond mind cannot be grasped by any faculty of mind;
The meaning of non-action cannot be understood in compulsive activity;
To realise the meaning of non-action and beyond mind,
Cut the mind at its root and rest in naked awareness.

Allow the muddy waters of mental activity to clear;
Refrain from both positive and negative projection –
leave appearances alone:
The phenomenal world, without addition or subtraction, is Mahamudra.

The unborn omnipresent base dissolves your impulsions and delusions:
Do not be conceited or calculating but rest in the unborn essence
And let all conceptions of yourself and the universe melt away.

The highest vision opens every gate;
The highest meditation plumbs the infinite depths;
The highest activity is ungoverned yet decisive;
And the highest goal is ordinary being devoid of hope and fear.

At first your karma is like a river falling through a gorge;
In mid-course it flows like a gently meandering River Ganga;
And finally, as a river becomes one with the ocean,
It ends in consummation like the meeting of mother and son.

If the mind is dull and you are unable to practice these instructions,
Retaining essential breath and expelling the sap of awareness,
Practising fixed gazes – methods of focussing the mind,
Discipline yourself until the state of total awareness abides.

When serving a karmamudra, the pure awareness
of bliss and emptiness will arise:
Composed in a blessed union of insight and means,
Slowly send down, retain and draw back up the bodhichitta,
And conducting it to the source, saturate the entire body.
But only if lust and attachment are absent will that awareness arise.

Then gaining long-life and eternal youth, waxing like the moon,
Radiant and clear, with the strength of a lion,
You will quickly gain mundane power and supreme enlightenment.

May this pith instruction in Mahamudra
Remain in the hearts of fortunate beings.

It is longish…but well worth the reading.

OM TAT SAT

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Generally just Being. Nothing in particular, no claims to fame. I like gardening and the sea, nature, art in all forms from poetry to films and everything in between, and being in the company of my family.

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