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The Four Natural Abidings of Mahamudra

Traditionally the path of Mahamudra is divided into four yogas or 'natural abidings" :


Recognizing and resting in the essence of mind.

First, characterized by knowing mind is clear and open. we let mind rest in this way. Not yet very stable.

Second. this arises more easily. more stable, have feeJing of mastery.

Third, experience of emptiness and clear light very strong and continuous at Ihis point. No distinction between moving and resting mind. The way one feels: very great respecl and appreciation for one's teachcr and kinship with one's dharma companions and natural and genuine compassion.


Free-From-Elaboration means realizing the nature of mind, as it is, without embellishment and denial, without root or basis.

First, generally stable experience of emptiness, particularly during meditation. Realize the emptiness of any event in the mind of any abiding or ceasing.

Second, realize the emptiness of all external objects. Become free from clinging since one realizes all appearances are empty. Also free from clinging to emptiness.

Third, all extreme views cut through, in meditation and post meditation. Neither (a) exists nor (b) docsn't exist nor (c) neither exists nor doesn't exist nor (4) both exists and doesn't exist. Detailed discussion with teachers and companions help here. Work out lechnique in practlce in great detail. Generosity and virtue very helpfuJ. Read or sing songs of masters to enhance one's understanding.


At this stage, one knows how mind is directly. Knowing this, we know how evcrything else is, all takes on one flavor. Whereas, in One-Pointedness and Free-From-Elaboration emphasis is on understanding.how mind is, there emphasis is on understanding appearances and senses. They are same as mmd.

First, one has slight and infrequent experience that all phenomena have one nature. inseparability of appearances and mind.

Second, experience of samencss enhanced. like water pouring into wa!cr .

Third, understand this quite directly, all appearance is empty. Not a state of stupidity where nothing is taking place in a big blend of everything. Rather it manifests as five wisdoms. Discriminating awareness wisdom, accomplishing wisdom, equanimity wisdom, mirror-like wisdom and dharm-dhatu wisdom are very specific and vivid. It is an enhancement of wisdom and insight, rather than a state of stupidity. Because of. considerable attention given to emptiness. here it is helpful to study karma, seed and result, intensively.


Arrived at through becoming intimately familiar with meditation. When one obtains direct understanding, there is nothing more to cultivate or meditate on. One no longer makes a distinction between meditative composure and post-meditation. Conceptual mind is exhausted.

First, one expericnces no difference between meditator and meditation.

Second, one becomes more stable in this. Emotional and intellectual obscurations are purified. Even more subtle dualistic intellectual obscurations are purified at this point.

Third. one realizes that the realization that arises in meditation is the same as the original nature of all things, which has always been there. So this is like mixing the original mother luminosity wilh the developed child luminosity and to recognize them as the same thing all along. Final realization of this feeling is it becoming completcly all-pervasive, pervading all of time and space completely. 'I'his is the expanding of the wisdom of dharma-dhatu.

These notes based on teachings of Thrangu Rinpoche.


Per Gampopa:

A lucid, unceasing awareness of the moment is the one-pointed stage or yoga.

Understanding the essential state of that awareness as nonarising, transcending all conceptual modes, is the free-from-elaboration yoga.

Understanding diverse appearances as being one from the standpoint of their intrinsic nature is the one-flavor yoga.

An unceasing realization of the union of appearance and its intrinsic emplincss is the great equipoise of the nonmeditation yoga.