Sean Price

Sean Price

Sean Price became a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in 1994 and has since studied at various monastic institutes in India and Nepal; he has resided at Shechen Monastery, Nepal, since 1999. He has translated numerous Mahamudra and Dzogchen texts and has worked at the Tsadra Foundation as Director of Tibetan Publications since 2009.

Sean Price

Sean Price became a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in 1994 and has since studied at various monastic institutes in India and Nepal; he has resided at Shechen Monastery, Nepal, since 1999. He has translated numerous Mahamudra and Dzogchen texts and has worked at the Tsadra Foundation as Director of Tibetan Publications since 2009.

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Marpa: A Reader's Guide

Marpa: A Guide for Readers


Marpa, by Chris Banigan from The Supreme Siddhi of Mahamudra

Indestructible truth
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The following is the beginning of a several page profile of Marpa from Indestructible Truth: The Living Spirituality of Tibetan Buddhism:

Marpa, the Tibetan founder of the Kagyu¨ lineage, represents yet another type of person. Born in 1012 of relatively prosperous parents in southern Tibet, as a young boy Marpa is depicted as possessing a fearsome temper and a violent and stubborn disposition. He is what one might call a holy terror, and while he is still young his parents send him off to be trained in the dharma with a variety of teachers. Marpa soon realizes that one has to make a lot of offerings in order to receive even basic teachings, let alone more advanced ones. Moreover, Tibetan teachers often guard their transmissions jealously, and Marpa is repeatedly rebuffed when he seeks the higher initiations.

Eventually, he comes to the conclusion that to receive the full measure of dharma instruction, he will have to journey to India. His parents capitulate, and Marpa sets off over the Himalayas on a long, tedious, and dangerous journey to India, the first of three trips he will make to the holy land. While staying in Nepal before descending to the Indian plains, Marpa hears of the siddha Naropa. His biography states, ‘‘A connection from a former life was reawakened in Marpa and he felt immeasurable yearning.’’

While many of his Tibetan contemporaries arrived in India and went straight to one or another of the great Indian monasteries for tantric instruction, Marpa takes a different course, bypassing the monastic scene, seeking for his yogin teacher in the forest. Marpa eventually finds Naropa, is accepted as a disciple, and receives extensive instruction and initiation from him.

From the first Marpa Kagyu volume of the Treasury of Precious Instructions:

Marpa Chökyi Lodrö of Lhodrak traveled to India three or four times. He received the sūtras and tantras in their entirety from many scholar-siddhas, Nāropa and Maitrīpa being the foremost among them. In particular, if his earlier and later journeys are added together, he studied with Nāropa for sixteen years and seven months. Through the combination of his listening, reflection, and meditation, Marpa came to dwell in a state of attainment. During his last journey, Nāropa had departed for [the practice of yogic] conduct. Nevertheless, enduring great hardships, Marpa searched for and supplicated Nāropa, finally actually meeting him in Puṣpahari in the North. He spent seven months with Nāropa and received the complete Aural Transmission of Cakrasaṃvara, male and female consorts. In Tibet, the principal disciples upon whom Marpa bestowed his profound dharma were known as the four great pillars. Among them, Mai Tsönpo, Ngok Chödor, and Tsurtön received the entrusted transmission of the explanatory tradition, and Jetsun Milarepa received the entrusted transmission of the practice tradition.

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The Life of Marpa the Translator: Seeing Accomplishes All

By Tsangnyon Heruka, translated by Chogyam Trungpa amd the Nalanda Translation Committee

Marpa the Translator, the eleventh-century farmer, scholar, and teacher, is one of the most renowned saints in Tibetan Buddhist history. In the West, Marpa is best known through his teacher, the Indian yogin Naropa, and through his closest disciple, Milarepa. This lucid and moving translation of a text composed by the author of The Life of Milarepa and The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa documents the fascinating life of Marpa, who, unlike many other Tibetan masters, was a layman, a skillful businessman who raised a family while training his disciples.

As a youth, Marpa was inspired to travel to India to study the Buddhist teachings, for at that time in Tibet, Buddhism has waned considerably through ruthless suppression by an evil king. The author paints a vivid picture of Marpa's three journeys to India: precarious mountain passes, desolate plains teeming with bandits, greedy customs-tax collectors. Marpa endured many hardships, but nothing to compare with the trials that ensued with his guru Naropa and other teachers. Yet Marpa succeeded in mastering the tantric teachings, translating and bringing them to Tibet, and establishing the Practice Lineage of the Kagyus, which continues to this day.

Essential Texts by and about Marpa

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Marpa Kagyu, Part One - Methods of Liberation: Essential Teachings of the Eight Practice Lineages of Tibet, Volume 7

The Treasury of Precious Instructions

By Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye

The seventh volume of the series, Marpa Kagyu, is the first of four volumes that present a selection of core instructions from the Marpa Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. This lineage is named for the eleventh-century Tibetan Marpa Chokyi Lodrö of Lhodrak who traveled to India to study the sutras and tantras with many scholar-siddhas, the foremost being Naropa and Maitripa. The first part of this volume contains source texts on mahamudra and the six dharmas by such famous masters as Saraha and Tilopa. The second part begins with a collection of sadhanas and abhisekas related to the Root Cakrasamvara Aural Transmissions, which are the means for maturing, or empowering, students. It is followed by the liberating instructions, first from the Rechung Aural Transmission. This section on instructions continues in the following three Marpa Kagyu volumes. Also included are lineage charts and detailed notes by translator Elizabeth M. Callahan.

The pieces by Marpa in this volume include:

  • Vajra Song on the Meaning of the Four Points: Instructions on the Ultimate Essence, the Mahāmudrā of Nonattention Heard by the Lord Marpa Lotsāwa from the Glorious Saraha
  • Trulkhors for the Path of Method and the Caṇḍālī of the Saṃvara Aural Transmission
  • Eighteen Trulkhors for Caṇḍālī
Rain of Wisdom
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The Rain of Wisdom: The Essence of the Ocean of True Meaning

Translated by Nalanda Translation Committee under the guidance of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

The art of composing spontaneous songs that express spiritual understanding has existed in Tibet for centuries. Over a hundred of these profound songs are found in this collection of the works of the great teachers of the Kagyü lineage, known as the Practice Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.

The chapter on Marpa, entitled The Grand Songs of Marpa, is 35 pages long and includes Marpa's first departure from India, his dream of Saraha, his third trip to India, his final farewell to Naropa, his  third return to Tibet, and the many songs these incidents inspired.

Great Kagyu
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The Great Kagyu Masters: The Golden Lineage Treasury

Compiled by Dorje Dze Öd, translated by Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche

The Golden Lineage Treasury was compiled by Dorje Dze Öd a great master of the Drikung lineage active in the Mount Kailasjh region of Western Tibet.  This text of the Kagyu tradition profiles and the forefathers of the tradition including Vajradhara, the Buddha, Tilopa, Naropa, the Four Great Dharma Kings of Tibet, Marpa, Milarepa, Atisha, Gampopa, Phagmodrupa, Jigten Sumgon, and more.

The profile Marpa is 25 pages long.

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The Supreme Siddhi of Mahamudra: Teachings, Poems, and Songs of the Drukpa Kagyu Lineage

Translated by Gerardo Abboud, Sean Price, and Adam Kane

The Drukpa Kagyu lineage is renowned among the traditions of Vajrayana Buddhism for producing some of the greatest yogis from across the Himalayas. After spending many years in mountain retreats, these meditation masters displayed miraculous signs of spiritual accomplishment that have inspired generations of Buddhist practitioners. The teachings found here are sources of inspiration for any student wishing to genuinely connect with this tradition.

These translations include Mahamudra advice and songs of realization from major Tibetan Buddhist figures such as Gampopa, Tsangpa Gyare, Drukpa Kunleg, and Pema Karpo, as well as modern Drukpa masters such as Togden Shakya Shri and Adeu Rinpoche. This collection of direct pith instructions and meditation advice also includes an overview of the tradition by Tsoknyi Rinpoche.

This includes a chapter on Marpa's A Vision of Saraha The Essential Importance of the Uncreated Meaning of the Four Syllables of Mahamudra: A Pith Instruction Expressed in a Vajra Song. The pith instruction, the essence of the uncreated found in the meaning of the four syllables of Mahamudra, was revealed to Lord Marpa by the song of Saraha.

Combined with guidance from a qualified teacher, these teachings offer techniques for resting in the naturally pure and luminous state of our minds. As these masters make clear, through stabilizing the meditative experiences of bliss, clarity, and nonthought, we will be liberated from suffering in this very life and will therefore be able to benefit countless beings.

Translator on Gerardo Abboud on The Supreme Siddhi of Mahamudra

Image of Marpa by Chris Banigan

Marpa, from the Buddhist Art Coloring Book 2

$21.95 - Paperback

Additional Resources on Marpa

Lotsawa House hosts at least eight works by Marpa as well as several where he features.  lotswa house

BDRC has a set of associated works related to Marpa

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Dudjom Yangsi - Sangye Pema Shepa (1990-2022)

It is with unbearable sadness that we learned yesterday of the devastating news that His Holiness Dudjom Yangsi, Sangye Pema Shepa passed away at the age of 32 on February 13th of 14th*, 2022.  This is a devastating loss for the Nyingma tradition in general, the Dudjom Tersar tradition specifically, and, we feel, the whole world.

The following is a selection of the forthcoming The Ruby Rosary by Thinley Rinpoche, the son of the previous Dudjom Rinpoche, and the uncle to Dudjom Yangsi Rinpoche.  In the foreword, Lama Tharchin relates the following:

This great being’s reincarnation is the supreme Nirmāṇakāya emanation Sangye Pema Shepa Drodul Rigdzin Trinley Drupe De, also known as Pema Ösel Pal Zangpo. His father was the great holy Treasure Revealer’s own son, Dola Choktrul Jigme Chökyi Nyima, and his mother is Pema Khandro, who has all the marks and signs of a Ḍākinī. In the year of the Iron Horse [1990], the lotus of his perfect form blossomed anew amid many amazing, auspicious signs.

Right from his early youth, his excellent propensities awakened, igniting the dynamic power of his innate supreme knowledge, an experience unique to the extraordinary liberated lives of great noble beings. Thus, he was able to read and write merely by glancing at words and letters. He received Kama and Terma empowerments, reading transmissions, and pith instructions from numerous learned and accomplished holy lineage masters, including the supreme sovereign master Kyabje Jigme Tsewang Thinley Norbu, who was his paternal uncle [the Treasure Revealer’s son], as well as the most senior of all of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche’s disciples, Kyabje Chatral Sangye Dorje and Gonjo Tulku Orgyen Chemchok.

Sangye Pema Shepa Rinpoche drank deeply of this nectar until his thirst was quenched. The force of his recollection of past lives has given him prodigious knowledge of boundless gateways to the Dharma of scripture and realization. Now, at the age of fifteen,* his qualities of scholarship, discipline, and kindness are completely unrivaled, and his enormously powerful enlightened activities are flourishing in every direction. He has accepted his role as a holy and courageous protector of the Great Secret Early Translation teachings and beings.

In 2018 Dudjom Yangsi came to the US and bestowed the entire Dudjom Tersar cycle of empowerments at Pema Osel Ling in California.  Rinpoche also travelled extensively in the US during that trip, and we were deeply humbled by his visit to our office.

Lama Sonam Rinpoche of Pema Osel Ling and a close disciple of Dudjom Yangsi Rinpoche said, "At the time of a great teacher's parinirvana it is an opportunity to connect with the lama's wisdom mind, which is always present. This is the best time to do practice."


*Yangsi Rinpoche's anniversary is marked on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month.
Dudjom Yangsi

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche on Dudjom Yangsi's Passing

Rinpoche's Foreword to Taming of the Demons: From the Epic of Gesar of Ling

Previously, as the magical manifestation of Great Master [Padmasambhava],
You, Lion King Tamer of Māras [Gesar of Ling], through your blessings and power
Expelled the dark forces of the barbaric māras to the farthest shore,
Hoisted the victory banner of the Buddha’s doctrine high in the firmament,

And heralded in a celebratory time, a new golden age
Of the four endowments, like summertime in full bloom.
May all those glorious qualities of auspicious peace and well-being in the world
Bring us all great happiness now and always.

Thus, at the request of Lama Chönam, I, the one named Dudjom Sangye Pema Shepa, offered this aspiration prayer.

From the Foreword of The Ruby Rosary (2022), on the Lineage of Dudjom Lingpa and Dudjom Rinpoche

"Our world has many different ethnicities and languages, yet we all share the common wish for happiness. By relying upon the sublime life stories of this holy master, which are free from exaggeration and understatement, and upon his sacred writings, we will be able to follow his example and train in the precious Buddha Dharma, which is the source of every happiness and benefit."

This was written by Sangye Pema Shepa, the one bearing the title “Dudjom Incarnation,” on Ḍākinī Day in the eighth month of the Tibetan Earth Dog year [October 4, 2018]

Yangsi Rinpoche's Calling the Lama from Afar

Translation by Christina Monson with Venerable Sean Price

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The Benefit of Retreat

Shabkar Elucidates the Essentials of Spiritual Practice

The Emanated Scripture of Manjushri

The Emanated Scripture of Manjushri includes twenty-three pieces of advice from Shabkar (1781–1851), teacher both of the Mind-Training and the Dzogchen traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. In this work, Shabkar shares what he believes to be the essentials of spiritual practice. In this particular section, Shabkar illuminates the importance of retreat and how it can increase our awareness.

My disciple Wongpo, a local chief, one who is rich with the jewels of the aryas, asked me to tell him the benefit of dwelling in lonely mountainous retreats. He went on:

Recollection of impermanence and the drawbacks of samsara,
Coupled with the understanding that all beings have been my parents,
Has led me to strongly desire to become Buddha—for the benefit of both all others and myself.

To this effect, I have relied upon a qualified guru and received and contemplated his vast and profound teachings.
Now to cut the fetters of this life and live up to the reputation of a hermit!

Youthful white clouds gather around the mountain’s peak, while silvery mist gathers at its waist.
A mother deer and her fawn dance joyfully upon the grassy meadows that lie beautified with flowers, at the foot.
Bees busily buzz their songs, and birds happily dive and soar.

In joyous places such as these, pleasure groves of isolated mountain solitude, awareness is clear.
You can live alone like the rishis of old,
Meditate on the profound and vast teachings,
And actualize the twofold benefit of self and other in this very life.

Perfect guru, most precious, pray grant those of us who seek to
emulate you, your praises of isolated places such as these.

Bless us that we might follow your example and dwell in
mountainous retreats, practice well, and awaken in exact accord with the Dharma.

I replied, “The compounded, mundane phenomena of samsara appear as if a drama, or the celestial cities of gandharvas. Reflecting on their changing, impermanent, and momentary nature causes a great sadness. In particular, the three cyclic worlds are, in and of themselves, the nature of suffering; you’ll not find a needle tip’s worth of enduring happiness there. Recognizing this will cause revulsion and renunciation to naturally arise within you in such a way that you’ll never forget them.

“This, in turn, will inspire you to seek out and roam in isolated hills, valleys, and forests with a resolve that would remain unmoved should you be offered even the pleasure grove of a sovereign monarch covered in a latticework of the finest jewels, or enticed with promises of beautiful houses, high thrones, the finest silken clothes to wear, and the best teas and finest wines with which to pass the time.

“Having partaken of the teachings, the desires and rejections of the eight worldly concerns are enough to make you sick to your stomach.

“Completely reject any notion or clinging to the idea of anything as real, and wishes for the pleasures of samsara will not arise—not even for a moment.

“Just as when, for example, a man is caught in the midday sun, he will inevitably be tormented and parched. He will desperately seek water to quench his thirst, and once found, he will drink his fill.

“Similarly, having thought long and hard about birth, death, and the faults of samsara, mental anguish consumes the contemplative. It leads him to desperately seek a qualified guru. Having found one, he will immediately quench his torment with the continual study and contemplation of the vast and profound nectar of the oral instructions. Satisfied, he will strive hard to achieve complete and perfect buddhahood for the sake of all pitiful, parent sentient beings.

“To this effect, a contemplative will seek out mountains whose peaks are ornamented in youthful white clouds, where the sun rises early in the morning and sets long into the evening—providing a long day full of light. He will seek out a place of nature, of unspoiled beauty, where clear water cascades down falls of white rock, offering cool refreshment, and groves full of lovely sounds, where foliage and trees, beautified with flowers and laden with fruit, are swayed by cool, scented breezes. If seen from afar, they seem to move in great swaying motions, waving their branches as if calling practitioners to them.

“While pursuing meditative absorption in such places, it is said to be important to keep the body completely still. Periodically the hermit should arrange his seat outside, covering the ground with piles of fresh and old tree leaves, in an environment filled with scented wildflowers. These youthful blooms of such extreme beauty cannot help but bring a smile; they are the cloud banks of offerings that delight meditators.

“Bees intoxicated on pollen nectar bumble around in these flowers. Happily buzzing about, they provide a pleasant melody.

“The sun naturally illuminates the forest ground where beautiful green shoots and grasses can clearly be seen gleaming like lapis and turquoise. Many herbivorous animals can also be seen, eating shoots and playing in joyful abandon, while overhead, birds of varying sizes fly about and sing their pleasant songs. Such a place is divine indeed, as if a pleasure grove of the heavens had been transported here to earth.

“To take as few as seven steps toward such a pleasant, isolated retreat, one is said to amass great merit. The Sutra of Dawa Dronme states:

Having gone forth from the householder’s life, what conduct should be adopted? Give up your obsession with food, drinks, perfumes, clothes, scented flowers and their garlands, and trying to please those in powerful positions. Bring the decaying nature of everything composite to mind and set your sights on buddhahood. Motivated thus, to take just seven steps toward a hermitage will being about extraordinary merit.

Likewise, another sutra states:

Thinking of retreat and taking seven steps in the direction of a hermitage will cause great merit and propel you to the level of a seventh-ground bodhisattva.

“When young, we spent time listening to and pondering the sublime Dharma. Now that we are a little older, it’s time to consider retreats in rocky meadows, in dense groves surrounded by thorny bushes, where the branches of flowery trees such as the tamarisk make an interwoven lattice within which birds make their nests. At the feet of such trees, shy animals such as rabbits and deer can rest and sleep without any cause for concern.

Bees intoxicated on pollen nectar bumble around in these flowers. Happily buzzing about, they provide a pleasant melody.

“In winter, face south, as the sun’s rays are stronger there, and in summer try to stay cool; awareness is vivid at these times. “Make sure that you have an easy supply of firewood, water, and other necessities. In these lonely and delightful places, it can be very comfortable to live in a little wooden hut. Reflect how the sages of the past had the fortune to dwell alone and you’ll be very happy. The Sutra of Individual Liberation says:

After having received much instruction, to then spend your years living purely in forest retreats is comfort indeed.

Another sutra reads:

Whosoever dwells in forest retreats will know true joy, as a virtuous life such as this is extremely pleasant.

“Taking care of family and friends, subduing enemies, commerce, farming, and so on, is all very distracting. As is a position in the local town or monastic administration, despite the merit you may make.

“Such distraction isn’t a problem if you dwell in a place such as this—the navel of the world, the self-arisen crystal stupa of the great and snowy Mount Kailash, a great mountain whose peak is hidden in white clouds that gently scatter flower-shaped snowflakes. It has the appearance of an open, white parasol. Its sides and slopes are filled with potent medicinal herbs, sweet-smelling incenses, myriad flowers, antelopes, and various kinds of birds such as the divine mountain birds, white grouse, and so on, which continually fly about. Devout pilgrims make their devotions, circumambulations, offerings, prostrations, and so forth, at the foot of the mountain, where you find all the necessities for a successful pilgrimage. It is an extraordinary place of solitude. In places such as these even sleep is very meaningful! Chengawa Lodro Gyaltsen once said:

With extensive merit gathered from distracting circumstance, to so much as even sleep in such isolation will bring great joy! The ocean of suffering and the ocean of bliss—don’t get carried away by the wrong one, O child of the Sakyas.

Je Kalden Gyatso said:

A single act of virtue accomplished in isolated retreat is worth a hundred done with distraction. Having gone into retreat, exert yourself in virtue!

“Should an ordinary person retire to such a place of isolation—where trees are in bloom and laden with fruit, with falls, streams, and grassy meadows with sweet-smelling flowers, where the environment provides sweet foods and potent herbs, where wild animals and birds frolic and play together and sing sweetly to one another without the slightest fear, where there are mountains and valleys blessed by the sublime masters of the past, where awareness is naturally clear—and, inspired by the biographies of the masters of the past, sacrifice having good food, clothing, and pleasant conversation, and have the fortune to sit in a little meditation cabin and earnestly apply himself to practice the instructions received from his master, he will awaken in this very life, in this very body. A sutra reads:

In the past those who would achieve nirvana retreated to isolated hermitages and there found enlightenment.

The omniscient Longchen Rabjam wrote:

It is said that the qualities of the buddhas and accomplished ones of the past came from their seclusion. Therefore, I seek mountain retreats.

“Sublime ones have ever practiced only in dense forests such as these, very far from the busyness of the city. Animals wander freely in these beautiful and inspiring places, and, after winters thaw, pure water cascades and flows in abundance, flowers bloom, and various types of bird gather to sing their beautiful songs as they bath and drink in clear, cool pools. Medicinal herbs and fruit of all kinds grow in abundance, each with its own color, taste, and smell; grass is very green and soft, and plenty of trees will offer shade. Aspire and make prayers to go forth from the time-consuming affairs of your life and have the fortune to practice alone here. Shantideva said:

When shall I come to dwell in forests?
Among the deer, birds, and trees that say nothing unpleasant and are a delight to be with.

The Thoughts of Seven Girls reads:

May I come to experience the joy of spending my days in the cool shade of a tree, sitting on a mat of soft fresh grass.

The victorious Kalsang Gyatso said:

People like us should make a heartfelt determination, and pray to be free from the fetters of desire, aspiring to the contemplation and meditation of Dharma in pleasant solitary groves.

Panchen Lobsang Chogyi Gyaltsen said:

Just as wild geese strain their eyes, anticipating finding wish-fulfilling pools beautified with garlands of lotuses,
Similarly, we should long for the pleasures of solitude from the very depths of our hearts.

Jetsun Kalden Gyatso said:

To aspire and pray to adopt the solitary conduct of a rishi is far better than staying with a few good friends in a pleasant, extremely solitary, mountain retreat.

Jetsun Sakya Rinchen said:

Sit amid the flowers in forested meadows; peace of mind is found in such wooded dwellings. A great and joyful bliss is won through practicing single-pointed meditation here—the likes of which isn’t experienced even in the pleasure groves of the heavens. Dwelling in lonely wilds without tiredness or fatigue, give up all thoughts of quarreling, aggression, stupidity, attachments, and any other mistaken ideas that bring you misery. Decide that you’ll stay alone.

A single act of virtue accomplished in isolated retreat is worth a hundred done with distraction. Having gone into retreat, exert yourself in virtue!

“As followers of these past masters, we should hurry to these heavenly mountains whose peaks stretch to the heavens. Brilliant white clouds, like parasols and banners, beautify their shoulders, fog and mist of a silver shade fall around and enwrap their bodies like a curtain, and at their feet are divine green meadows, lush, beautiful, and filled with flowers. The grazing animals of nomads wander throughout the surrounding hills, and herds of wild deer, antelope, and other lovely wild animals freely roam. The tops of the leafy trees are filled with cuckoos, nightingales, and other beautiful birds, all chirping away pleasantly to one another. In the springtime, the younger birds will try to attract a mate and draw her out of her hiding in the deep forest dwelling with enchanting love songs, while bees happily intoxicated on flower nectar buzz around as they gather pollen. Cool waters fall, gurgling down the mountainside, sounding like the joy of a celestial maiden. If hot, go to the sides of the mountain and indulge in the pleasantly cooling waves of the divine fan, cool air that rises and brings sensations of great bliss.

“It has been said time and time again: retire to lonely places of abundance such as these and practice the sublime Dharma. The Moon Lamp Sutra reads:

Give up the delights of towns and villages, and always rely upon
the solitude of the forest. Remain alone, like a rhinoceros, and
before too long you will win the supreme meditation.

Atisha said:

Stay far away from places that disturb your mind, and remain in
places conducive to virtue. Until stability is won, remain alone
in the woodlands; places of distraction are harmful to practice.

The Precious Lord wrote:

Swarms of bees fly about the myriad flowers that carpet the meadows,
their pleasant buzzing is heard from afar. Live as a vagabond;
rely upon and awaken in sublime retreats such as these.

Longchenpa stated:

How wonderful! Those with faith who desire buddhahood,
having perfectly entered the highest, greatest secret should enter into
retreat by themselves and seize the dharmakaya citadel.

Gyalse Togme wrote:

When unfavorable places are given up, destructive emotions naturally fade.
Without distraction, positive action increases and, as awareness becomes clearer,
confidence in the Dharma grows. It is a bodhisattva’s practice to rely on solitude.

Chekawa said:

Child, if you are able to endure the hardships of solitary ascetic
practice and live like the sages of old, my work will have been worthwhile.

“Looking at the biographies of the masters of the past, we should strive to emulate them, live in accord with their vajra words, and cut the entanglements that completely ensnare us in the worldly affairs of this life. Live in the mountain solitudes that the sublime masters of the past have praised so highly, wear tattered clothes, eat the worst food, and, above all, practice day and night the vast and profound instructions received from your guru.

Having thought about birth, death, and the sufferings of samsara, seek out a qualified guru.
Serve at his feet and receive his instruction—both vast and profound.
Then, motivated by a wish to awaken, to become Buddha for the sake of all beings,
seek out mountain solitude.

Leave for the tall mountains whose peaks are clad in white cloud,
A place of nature where clean drinking water cascades down rocky falls,
Becoming gentle streams that seem to chatter as they gurgle freely along,

And where foliage and trees, beautified with flowers and laden with fruit,
Move in great swaying motions, when roused by cool, scented breezes.
Waving their arms, they call, ‘Come and practice meditation here!’

Retire to lonely places of abundance and practice the sublime Dharma.

It is said that when meditating, should you wish to sit very still, go to a still place.
Here the hermit lays out his cushion, covering the ground with leaves
and twigs, and arranges offerings of fresh, scented flowers to fill the environment.

Bees intoxicated with pollen and nectar bob and dive about, buzzing
their little tunes,
Beautiful animals frolic and rest upon the soft green grass,
While birds dip and dive among the branches of the trees, singing their pleasant songs.

Such pleasing and isolated groves, rich and abundant, are like heaven
on earth.
To take seven steps toward one is to accrue great merit,
To stay in one will bring happiness, well-being, and renown,
And to stay and practice there will bring buddhahood.

Fortunate disciples of my heart, let us live in accordance with the
masters of the past,
Disentangle and detach ourselves from worldly concerns,
And retreat to pleasing places where awareness becomes clearer.
Let’s take just the bare necessities and leave everything else behind,
And spend our days and nights exerting ourselves in the practice of
the vast and profound instructions we have received!”


Shabkar Tsogdruk RangdrolShabkar (1781–1851) was a renowned practitioner and teacher both of the Mind-Training and the Dzogchen traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. He was a free spirit who chose to live as a hermit or wandering pilgrim without home or possessions, far from the organized life of religious establishments. Learn more.

Sean PriceSean Price became a monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in 1994 and has since studied at various monastic institutes in India and Nepal; he has resided at Shechen Monastery, Nepal, since 1999. He has translated numerous Mahamudra and Dzogchen texts and has worked at the Tsadra Foundation as Director of Tibetan Publications since 2009. Learn more.

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Offering Realization | An Excerpt from The Supreme Siddhi of Mahamudra

We have excerpted the chapter “Offering Realization: In the Presence of Pagmo Drupa” from The Supreme Siddhi of Mahamudra: Teachings, Poems, and Songs of the Drukpa Kagyu Lineage here.

The Drukpa Kagyu lineage is renowned among the traditions of Vajrayana Buddhism for producing some of the greatest yogis from across the Himalayas. After spending many years in mountain retreats, these meditation masters displayed miraculous signs of spiritual accomplishment that have inspired generations of Buddhist practitioners. The teachings found here are sources of inspiration for any student wishing to genuinely connect with this tradition.

To order the full book, click here.

by Lingchen Repa

Homage to the precious guru!

Lord, you told me to meditate on the innate essence,
And meditate is what I did;
It so happened that meditation and meditator simply vanished,
And there was no post-meditation to uphold.

Through the experience of the torch of samadhi,
I realized the mind as the dharmakaya, free of elaborations.
Thus, clinging to experiences simply vanished,
And there was no straying to eliminate.

Through none other than the mind resting as it is—
Without altering with remedies—
Doubts about “is it” or “is it not” simply vanished,
And there was no sense of discomfort left.

Like meeting a person known from before,
By recognizing thoughts as the dharmakaya,
Grasping to them as faults or qualities simply vanished,
And there was nothing to reject or accept.

Like the sun dawning upon darkness,
Realization arose from within.
Thus, philosophical assertions simply vanished,
And there were no words to speak.

By realizing that the guru and the buddhas of the three times
Are not different from my own mind,
Ordinary perception simply vanished,
And there was nothing to long for.

The bubble of illusory body is always destroyed.
As I realized that the mind is unborn and immortal,
The fear of death simply vanished,
And there was nothing to grieve about.

If we meet, I am in the presence of the lord.
If we do not, I wander aimlessly through mountain hermitages.
If hungry, I go for alms without attachment.
If cold, I warm myself with the heat of tummo.

If sad, I sing a song of spiritual experience.
If sick, I balance the elements.
I slash experiences of happiness or sorrow on the spot,
And go about my everyday life as I please.

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