The Mahamudra Upadesha
I've wanted to write down some advice on meditation practice for some years, but couldn't decide the correct format for doing it. I read that Garchen Rinpoche recommended that all his students study the Mahamudra Upadesha. So I decided to write a commentary on it a weave my own advice on meditation into it. Although the Mahmudra Upadesha is a Tantric Buddhist text, I believe it holds value for all meditators, whatever their spiritual tradition. And so I have tried to explain the text in a way that will not limit its appeal to BUddhists. May we all be able to help each other, learn from each other, and support each other in the practice of meditation.
It's traditional to begin a Tibetan text the was originally from India with its title both in Tibetan and Sanskrit:
rgya gar skad du/ mahAmudra-upadesha/
bod skad du / phyag rgya chen po’i man ngag/
In Sanskrit: Mahamudra Upadesha
In Tibetan: Chagya Chenpo Men Ngag
In English: Oral Instructions on Mahamudra
This is done for two reasons: first, to show the authenticity of the text and, second, to express appreciation for the translator who translated it into Tibetan.
I translated the second word in the Sanskrit title, upadesha, as oral instructions. Upadesha means personal advice. As, such, it is tailored to the person it is offered to. It is short and to the point and does not include lengthy quotations from scriptures to establish the author's point. Because Naropa was a long time student of Tilopa at the time Tilopa gave his instruction, he did not need a lengthy or detailed explanation. Thet instruction just covers the main points. For that reason it is useful to learn, study, and memorize.
The first word in the Sanskrit title, Mahamudra, is the proper name of a specific kind of meditation. It is usually translated as "Great Seal." And the name is explained by saying that there is a nature that all things have that is like a seal upon them. That nature is disclosed by the practice of meditation. Because that seal is on everything, including the mind of the meditator, it is called the "Great Seal," or Mahamudra.