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This section Mahamudra and the Six Yogas, the sublime content of the Kagyu lineage
The Tibetan masters of the Karma Kagyu lineageThe Gyalwa Karmapas, supreme masters of the Karma Kagyu lineage

Mahasiddha Tilopa

First of three on Tilopa  Life of Tilopa, part 2, the Dakini  Tilopa's life: becoming Vajradhara and teaching

Part One: contd.

Understanding the many parallels he found in the various traditions, and realising that they each responded to the needs of different people at different stages of awakening, he eventually condensed their essence into four principal streams of teaching. It is from these, and in these, that we have the true meaning of the word Kagyu.

 In Tai Situpa's words:

"Taking avantage of his new-found freedom, Prajñabhadra practised meditation very intensively, travelling when necessary to receive the special techniques and guidance of most of the great teachers of his day: Guhya, Darika, Dingi and so on. The best of students, he mastered all their vital teachings and was able to appreciate their common points and their particularities. The lineages which he inherited all condense into four streams of transmitted wisdom. It is from these that the Kagyu tradition derives its name, for 'Kagyu' is a short form of the Tibetan

theg pa gsum gy snying don bka bab kyi chos bzhi'i gdams ngag bar ma ckad pa'i brgyud pa,

which roughly means the unbroken lineage of profound and intimate guidance in the four sorts of transmitted mastery, the heart meaning of the three yanas.

During the first period of his life, he acquired the name Tilopa, which means sesame-grinder, as this was the identity in which he lived externally by day. His nights were spent working in the brothel of a wisdom dakini who had assumed the guise of a prostitute. Every instant of his life, in these mundane worlds, was devoted to the perfection of his inner

spirituality. No fraction of awareness was without the awakened freshness of meditation. Thus, a marvellous phrase is to be found in this part of his biography:

"From this moment on, not one moment of his life, day or night, was ever wasted."

Part Two: the Dakini of Uddiyana

Having inherited the Buddhist lineages of his time, Tilopa was then advised by his guiding dakini to go to the impenetrable valleys of Uddiyana (Orgyen), where he would receive extraordinary transmissions of teaching. Uddiyana is believed by many to be the region of the Swat valley, near ancient Gilgit. Many valleys there are believed to have been impenetrable for ordinary humans and the havens of secret teachings, held in the wrathful custodianship of the dakini. In a veritable épopée, Tilopa worked and fought his way through earthquakes, hallucinations, demon army attacks and other phenomena and was rewarded by becoming heir to some very special teachings; the heart teachings of the dakinis. These included the nine secret dakini teachings and the four wish-fulfilling-gem teachings.

First of three on Tilopa  Life of Tilopa, part 2, the Dakini  Tilopa's life: becoming Vajradhara and teaching