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Previous page, first of three on mahamudra  This page, part two on mahamudra

Having thoroughly prepared the ground of their minds, through the various preliminary practices, the only way to discover the vast wisdom, voidness, compassion and power to help others which is within the mind is through skilful meditation. Whatever form this meditation takes, it is always done with the total conviction that all is already pure and perfect within. All that remains is to remove the psychological blockages preventing one from access to the innate perfection. The path of practice has two main areas of activity. One, called the ultimate stage, is a journey into the depths of mind itself. Having established total stillness and control, one illuminates the spotlight of inner wisdom, as mind examines mind in great subtlety. This eternal voyage of discovery needs expert guidance from a guru. From it will emerge a recognition of dharmakaya, i.e. the fusion of voidness and wisdom which lies at the very core of mind. The other area of activity the creative stage works not with the noumenon of mind but with its phenomenal manifestations. One needs to discover, in the everyday world of events, people, feelings, thoughts and reactions the same purity that has been discovered when alone on the meditation cushion. This process is usually aided by learning, through visualisation, to identify with one or another of the many yidams or buddhas. These yidam and guru-yoga practices each unblock specific areas of the relative mind. Each contains its own section of ultimate stage meditation.

This creative stage of practice will, at enlightenment, give rise to all the relative buddha-activity expressed through sambhogakaya and nirmanakaya, during which one manifests beneficially in the lives of all those with whom there has been a past connection. Having worked sufficiently on both creative and ultimate areas of meditation, the time will come when the meditator is stable and clear enough to be aided into a recognition of the buddha within. But even then, having recognised primordial purity, he or she will need to continue with both stages of practice for many years. Unlike an intellectual realisation, which can lead to wide and sweeping changes immediately (such as Newton's sudden understanding of gravity as the apple fell), realising one's buddha nature is a direct experience which, after the first glimpse, is soon lost and needs to be constantly rediscovered as it is stifled again and again by the habitual activities of mind. The glimpses become more frequent, longer lasting and generally more stable. The journey to their total stabilisation has four main stages, known as the four yogas.

The first yoga is called one-pointedness. One realises that to remain calm, relaxed and aware of mind's true, void nature is the one medicine which cures all mental ills. While cultivating experiences of bliss, non-thought and crystal clarity, one continuously lengthens the time that can be spent in deep meditation. The effects of the latter become more and more widespread, changing the quality of waking life and dreams.

The second yoga, called lack of complication, involves establishing the rootless, baseless nature of all things the mind experiences. This resolves clinging to any thing or to any intellectual reference point and reveals the true value of the Buddha's teaching.

The third yoga, called one taste, destroys the habit of feeling one's mind as something other than the external universe it experiences. The subjective and objective feelings both dissolve into the one ocean in which everything manifests through interdependence and hence no thing has own nature.

The fourth yoga is called non-meditation. This is the final stage of the journey to total enlightenment, in which all effort to meditate and become a buddha has to cease, in the total acceptance of a buddhahood which already exists, spontaneously. It is the final transcendence of the conceptual mind, with its mania for interpreting events and defining the person and the person's world.

Mahamudra can also be described through its stages of basis, path and fruition. Part three is a spiritual song by the first Jamgon Kongtrul about this.