‘SIMULTANEOUSLY-ARISEN’, LIKE SUN AND SUNLIGHT: Dagpo Gampopa on the meaning of ‘simultaneously-arisen’, ‘white panacea’ and Dzogchen in the context of Mahāmudrā

Simultaneously-arisen ‘mind-itself’[1] is dharmakāya.
Simultaneously-arisen appearances are the light of dharmakāya.
Simultaneously-arisen ‘mind-itself’ is  the nature or essence.
Simultaneously-arisen appearances are thoughts that arise from [that].
Like the sun and rays of the sun, or sandalwood and scent of sandalwood[2].

སེམས་ཉིད་ལྷན་ཅིག་སྐྱེས་པ་ཆོས་ཀྱི་སྐུ༎ སྣང་བ་ལྷན་ཅིག་སྐྱེས་པ་ཆོས་སྐུའི་འོད༎ སེམས་ཉིད་ལྷན་ཅིག་སྐྱེས་པ་ནི༎ སེམས་ཀྱི་རང་བཞིན་ནམ་ངོ་བོ་དེ་ཡིན༎ སྣང་བ་ལྷན་ཅིག་སྐྱེས་པ་ནི༎ དེ་ལས་བྱུང་བའི་རྣམ་པར་རྟོག་པ་དེ་ཡིན༎ དེ་ཡང་ཉི་མ་དང་ཉི་མའི་འོད་བཞིན་ནམ༎ ཙན་དན་དང་ཙན་དན་གྱི་དྲི་ལྟ་བུ་ཡིན༎

“Once, when Milarepa was in the company of many people, I {Gampopa] asked him ‘what Dzogchen (rDzogs-chen) was like?’ Mi-la replied that guru Marpa had said: ‘Though it is said to be not the Dharma (chos men pa), that is not [so]. It is a dharma belonging to the sixth or seventh bhūmi and above.’ Then [Mi-la] pointed to a little boy of about five years of age and said, ‘The followers of the Dzogchen are like him. It is like this child saying that he has the powers of a twenty-five-year-old [adult]. The followers of the Dzogchen too speak of ‘Buddhahood now, ‘but it is not really meaningful.’”[3]

ངས་བླ་མ་མི་ལའི་དྲུང་དུ་མི་མང་རབ་ཅིག་ཡོང་པའི་དུས་སུ། རྫོགས་ཆེན་འདི་ཅི་རྩུག་ལགས་ཞུས་པས། བླ་མ་མར་པའི་ཞལ་ནས་ཆོས་མེན་པ་སྐད་ཟེར་ཏེ། ཆོས་མེན་པར་མི་འདུག། ས་དྲུག་པ་བདུན་པ་ཡན་ཆད་གྱི་ཆོས་སུ་འདུག་གསུང། དེ་ནས་བྱིས་པ་ལོ་ལྔ་ཙམ ལོན་པ་ཞིག་ལ་འཛུབ་མོ་བཙུགས་ནས། རྫོགས་ཆེན་པ་རྣམས་འདི་དང་འདྲ་བ་ཡིན་ཏེ། བྱིས་པ་འདི་ན་རེ་ང་ལ་སྐྱེས་བུ་ལོ་ཉི་ཤུ་རྩ་ལྔ་ལོན་པའི་ནུས་པ་ཡོང་ཟེར་བ་དང་འདྲ་བ་ཡིན། རྫོགས་ཆེན་པ་རྣམས་ཀྱང་ད་ལྟ་སངས་རྒྱས་པ་སྐད་ཟེར་ཏེ། དོན་དང་མི་ལྡན་གསུང༎

—–Gampopa from Exchanges with Dusum Khyenpa [First Karmapa]

Dagpo Gampopa (1079–1173)

On this full moon day, that marks the celebration of when  Buddha entered into the womb of Queen Mayadevi, also marks the beginning of the 45 days of the monsoon retreat for the Tibetan monastic community. For the followers of Kagyu tradition, today also marks the Guru Anniversary for Je Gampopa, the Physician of Dakpo (Dakpo Lharje or sGam po pa bSod nams rin chen) (1079–1173) , who became ordained at the age of 26 after his two children and wife died in an epidemic. Gampopa then became a student of yogi Milarepa and forefather of many  Kagyu lineages.

To commemorate this day,  I offer a short research post on Gampopa’s teachings related to the ‘three paths’ of Mahāmudrā and the terms he uses such as ‘white panacea/remedy’ (dkar po cig thub) and  ‘spontaneously-arisen’/’innate’  (lhan skyes)  in the context of Mahāmudrā .  In particular, I cite quotes on the nature of mind and appearances from a text attributed to Gampopa called Exchanges with Dusum Khyenpa [First Karmapa] (dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhus lan) , a teaching about his discussions with the 1st Karmapa, that was said to be given to the ‘three master/disciples’ at Tolung (district near Lhasa)'[4]. Also, I translate some short passages from other Gampopa texts,  Abundant Qualities of the Dharma Assembly (tshogs chos yon tan phun tshogs) and Ultimate Treasury: Pointing Out the Essence (snying po’i ngo sprod don dam gter mdzod/). 

Musical theme for this post? Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles 🙂

Written and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 24th July 2021

Gampopa and his main students

The 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, recently gave several days of detailed teachings on Dagpo Gampopa, his life, background and teachings, see here and Bibliography below. Some of those teachings went into Gampopa’s view on the different approaches and paths to realization via Mahāmudrā . For a biography of Je Gampopa’s life see here:

“Gampopa is credited with establishing the Kagyu path, combining Kadampa Lamrim teachings with the Mahāmudrā teachings he received from Milarepa, and bringing together the Kadam monastic and scholastic traditions with Indian Mahasiddha practices brought to Tibet by Marpa. He wrote a number of treatises, among the best known being the Damcho Yishingyi Norbu Tarpa Rinpoche Gyan (dam chos yid bzhin gyi nor bu thar pa rin po che’i rgyan), translated into English as the Jewel Ornament of Liberation…Four of his disciples went on to establish four subdivisions of the Kagyu tradition (which then branched off into the eight minor Kagyu lineages): 

    1. Pakmodrupa Dorje Gyelpo (phag mo gru pa rdo rje rgyal po, 1110-1170), who founded Densatil (gdan sa thil) and established the Pakdru Kagyu;
    2. Barompa Darma Wangchuk (‘ba’ rom pa dar ma dbang phyug, 1127-1199/1200), who established the Barom Kagyu;
    3. the First Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa (kar+ma pa 01 dus gsum mkhyen pa, 1110-1193), who established the Karma Kagyu; and
    4. Zhang Yudrakpa (zhang g.yu brag pa, 1123-1193), who established the Tselpa Kagyu.
‘Exchanges with Dusum Khyenpa’ – The three paths and three types of beings
Dagpo Gampopa with one of his students, Dusum Khyenpa, 1st Karmapa. Source HAR.

Generally, from research done so far on writings attributed to Gampopa[5], he distinguished three types of beings and three paths (lam gsum), consisting of:

 1) the path of inference (rjes dpag lam),

2) the path of blessing (byin rlabs kyi lam) and

3) the path of direct realisation (mngon sum lam).

A brief presentation of these three paths is recorded in the Exchanges with Dusum Khyenpa. In this work, Gampopa equates 1) the path of inference with the Pāramitānaya, 2) the path of blessing with the creation and completion stage practices of the Buddhist tantras, and 3) the path of direct perception with the luminous simultaneously-arisen. 

In another passage of that same text, they are presented as approaches for beings of varying capacities: the Pāramitānaya is described as an approach for beings with dull capacities, the Buddhist tantras as an approach for beings with middling capacities, and Mahāmudrā as an approach for beings with sharp capacities[6].  

One could thus further make another threefold subdivision of this category: those who are capable of following the ‘gradualist’ path of the sūtras, the Pāramitānaya, those who are capable of following the path of ‘blessings’ of  the tantras, the Mantranaya, and the extremely sharp and mature individuals who are capable of practicing the ‘instantaneous’ approach.

The three paths are also depicted by Gampopa in his text,  Dharma Assembly of Abundant Qualities (Tshogs chos yon tan phun tshogs).[7]  See also the Eighth Karmapa’s Instructions on Kamstang Mahāmudrā Practice (Kaṃ tshang phyag chen nyams len gyi khrid).

Can Mahāmudrā be attained outside of secret mantra empowermentnand teachings?
Marpa the Translator with student Jetsun Milarepa.

According to Go Lotsāwa (’Gos Lo tsā ba), in the Blue Annals (Deb ther sngon po) (tr. Roerich 1996: 461–462), Marpa and Milarepa first produced ‘inner heat/power’ (Skt. caṇḍāli, Tib. gtum mo) and then realisation of the Mahāmudrā in their students:

“Milarepa explained to Sonam Rinchen [Gampopa] that the Kadam tradition possessed inadequate tantric teachings, owing to Dromton Gyelwa Jungne (‘brom ston, 1005-1064) and other members of the Eastern Vinaya tradition objecting to the full implications of Atiśa Dīpaṃkara‘s (c. 982-1054) preaching. Milarepa then gave Sonam Rinchen instructions on Vajravārahī and sent him off to meditate in a nearby cave, supported by a local householder to whom Sonam Rinchen gave two pieces of gold. After thirteen months, during which Sonam Rinchen reported ever-advancing signs of attainment, Milarepa gave him the transmission of his entire teachings, including tumo (gtum mo) and Mahāmudrā, and sent him back to his homeland, predicting that he would become a renowned teacher.” (Treasury of Lives bio)

However, Gampopa is said to have produced this realisation even in beginners who had not received empowerment: Go Lotsāwa called this ‘general pāramitāyāna teachings’. Sūtra Mahāmudrā  is defined by its connection to the pāramitāyāna, being in accord with tantra, and focusing on the pith instruction of not becoming mentally engaged (amanasikāra) on the basis of sūtra teachings and practices (such as śamathā and vipaśyanā meditations). This definition is often quoted by Tibetan Buddhist teachers and originates from the Tattvadaśakaṭīkā.

Although Gampopa is credited with having taught a form of the Mahāmudrā  based on the sūtras, the term ‘sūtra Mahāmudrā (mdo lugs phyag chen) is firsr said to have appeared in Tibet during the nineteenth century. However, according to Gampopa, it was the Ratnagotravibhāga (sometimes called the Uttaratantraśāstra) which has the most importance for Kagyupas in understanding Mahāmudrā  theory and practice.

In Exchanges with Dusum Khyenpa, Gampopa emphasised that ‘his tradition’ as a third path would make direct realisation into the path. He also distinguished two kinds of individuals: those of ‘gradual’ (rim gyis pa) and those of ‘simultaneist’ (cig car ba) approaches to enlightenment. Direct access is restricted to the few persons of ‘good capacities’ (skal ldan) from former lifetimes; however, sGam po pa called himself as a  gradualist (rim gyis pa) at times (see below). Mahāmudrā is not the same as Dzogchen though, in Exchanges with Dusum Khyenpa, Gampopa recounts a teaching from Marpa and Milarepa:

“He [Gampopa] said ‘it is extremely difficult and I consider myself  ‘gradualist’ (rim-gyis-pa).  Once, when Milarepa was in the company of many people, I {Gampopa] asked him ‘what Dzogchen (rDzogs-chen) was like?’ Mi-la replied that guru Marpa had said: ‘Though it is said to be not the Dharma (chos men pa), that is not [so]. It is a dharma belonging to the sixth or seventh bhūmi and above.’ Then [Mi-la] pointed to a little boy of about five years of age and said, ‘The followers of the Dzogchen are like him. It is like this child saying that he has the powers of a twenty-five-year-old [adult]. The followers of the Dzogchen too speak of ‘Buddhahood now, ‘but it is not really meaningful.’”[8]

Gampopa on the  ‘simultaneously-arisen union’ (lhen chig kye) of mind and thoughts/appearances
Like the sun and it’s rays

“Simultaneously-arisen Union/Yoga’” (lhan cig skyes sbyor, Skt. *sahajayoga) is a transmission of Gampopa that he passed down to his students. In addition, Gampopa regularly uses the term ‘simultaneously-arisen mind-itself’ (sems nyid lhan skyes) to describe the ultimate nature of mind, the dharmakāya (see below).

I wrote here before about the meaning and use of the term ‘simultaneously-arisen’/’innate’ (‘sahaja’ /lhan skyes) in particular as used by Jetsun Tāranātha in the context of ‘Innate’ deity practice (the two –armed form of the deity). It is a term associated with the Indian dohā literature and tantras and is generally translated as either ‘innate’ (shorter and succinct) or more accurately, ‘simultaneously-arisen’/’co-emergent’[9].

His advices for Mahāmudrā -practice were sometimes termed ‘profound instructions of the Mahāmudrā , the union with the ‘simultaneously-arisen’ (phyag chen lhan cig skyes sbyor zab khrid). In Exchanges with Dusum Khyenpa, Gampopa taught  about the ‘innate,’ or ‘simultaneously-arisen’ :

“The simultaneously-arisen ‘nature of mind’ is the dharmakāya, and the simultaneously-arisen appearances are the light of the dharmakāya.. The simultaneously-arisen mind-itself’ is its nature or essence. The simultaneously-arisen appearances are the thoughts that has arisen from [that]. Like the sun and the rays of the sun or sandalwood and the scent of sandalwood[10].”

At the end of another text, Abundant Qualities of the Dharma Assembly, Gampopa again uses the phrase ‘simultaneously-arisen mind-itself’:

“May the realization of the naturally-originated Mahāmudrā, the simultaneously-arisen mind-itself’ Dharmakāya come![11]

In the Ultimate Treasury: Pointing Out the Essence [13]:

“There is spontaneously-arisen mind-itself is and spontaneously-arisen appearances. The first is the Dharmakāya, the second is the luminosity of the Dharmakāya. The spontaneously-arisen mind-itself is the uncontrived nature of the Dharmakāya. Free from apprehending and holding onto an actual essence. For example, like space.   

As for the simultaneously-arisen appearances that is the luminosity of the Dharmakāya. It is the thoughts and concepts about virtue, non-virtue and neutral. If one asks are these the same/one or different/many? To the ‘unrealised’ they seem to appear as different. To the realized, they are the same/one. For example, like sandalwood and the scent of sandalwood; the sun and the rays of the sun;  water and the waves of water.”

Thus, that which appears (snang) and the mind itself (sems nyid) (in other words, mind (sems), conceptualization (rnam rtog), and dharmakāya) have always arisen simultaneously. The goal of this understanding is direct experience of the highest truth (Skt. paramārtha-satya), free from fabrications (Skt. niṣprapañca). In order to make it accessible to, or unite it with (sbyor), one’s mind, one applies instructions (gdams pa). The meditative training of the Mahāmudrā  consists in training to let the mind rest ‘uncontrived’ or ‘without artifice’ (ma bcos).

Elsewhere, in his Instructions on Simultaneously-arisen Union Mahāmudrā (Phyag chen lhan cig skyes sbyor gyi ngo sprod) Jigten Sumgon, Drikung Kagyu founder (and student of Phagmo Drugpa, see below) [12] also uses the expression several times to explain the three kāyas of full awakening.

In an interesting paper, Broido (1985) talks about the use of sahaja/lhenkye by 8th Karmapa, Mikyo Dorje and Pema Karpo (Padma dKar-po) on the two Satyas and asserts that the meaning of  ‘lhenkye’ originates clearly in the tantras and so all discussion of it must be connected to Vajrayana meaning and practice:

“Finally, both Padma dKar-po and Mi-bskyod rDorje are very insistent that neither of the two satyas can be established (grub) by itself, even conventionally {tha-snyad-du). They always arise together, sahaja (lhan-cig skyes-pa), and may never be separated for the purposes of analysis…Similarly, the pair osel (‘od-gsal) and gyu lu (sgyu-lus) (the radiant light and the illusory body) and the pair bde-ba chen-po and stong-nyid mam-pa kun-ldan arise together. Now both of the notions yuganaddha and sahaja originate in the tantras and not in the sutra or Madhyamaka literature. One could hardly ask for a more dramatic demonstration that for these authors, the tantras influenced the fundamental character of the concepts they employed in Madhyamaka. Thus, Vajrayana considerations will enter almost every aspect of our discussion.”

The ‘White Panacea’ and objections by Sakya Paṇḍita (1182–1251)
Sakya Paṇḍita (1182–1251)

A further key term in Gampopa’s Mahāmudrā is ‘white panacea [or remedy]’ (dkar po gcig thub), often attributed to Lama Zhang.  Scheuermann (2016: 340-341) draws attention to Sakya Pandita’s objections to Gampopa’s system regarding the instantantaeous direct perception realization of Mahāmudrā and his notion of a ‘white panacea’:

“The term White Panacea (dkar po chig thub) [also translated as Self Sufficient White Remedy] occurs in a few of sGam po pa’s writings in relation to Mahāmudrā. Sa skya Paṇḍita (1182–1251) seems to have understood that the term refers to a mono-causal method that allows an individual to instantly attain Buddhahood. Consequently, he strongly criticised such a doctrine and suspected the influence of earlier Sino-Tibetan “instantaneist” (cig car ba) traditions advocating a sudden path to Buddhahood. David Jackson identified three main criticisms raised by Sa skya Paṇḍita with respect to sGam po pa’s presentation of a non-tantric Mahāmudrā:

1. That a single method or factor (even insight into Emptiness presented as Mahāmudrā) could suffice soteriologically

2. That the Gnosis (ye shes: jñāna) of the Mahāmudrā could arise through an exclusively non-conceptual meditative method

3. That Mahāmudrā could ever be taught outside of the Mantrayāna.[13]

Phagmo Drupa with his previous incarnations.  14th-century painting from the Rubin Museum of Art

He also cites the following excerpt from the Exchanges with Phagmo Drupa (rJe phag mo gru pa’i zhus lan,  in David Jackson’s translation), a text considered to be a record of an exchange between Gampopa and his disciple Phag mo gru pa rDo rje rgyal po (1110–1170), gives us an idea of how the term has been used by the early Dagpo Kagyu tradition:

“Accordingly, when it has arisen, since this has become a Self-sufficient White [Remedy], i.e. full liberation through knowing one thing, Buddha[hood] is acquired in oneself. Since by that, the fetter that binds one to cyclic existence has been loosed of itself, one’s own mind achieves the level of great bliss.”

Scheuermann (2016: 341) thus concludes, based on these and other Gampopa source texts, that:

“…the term White Panacea is not used to describe a soteriologically self-sufficient factor or method, that is, a Self-Sufficient White Remedy, but rather seems to be applied as a general metaphor for Mahāmudrā…..Like a White Panacea that cures all diseases once and for all, the realization of Mahāmudrā is understood to remove all obscurations so that no further remedy needs to be administered.”

The name ‘ Mahāmudrā’ would thus refer to the sūtric path for the reason that it eventually leads to experience of the ‘real’ Mahāmudrā .  Despite that, it remains difficult to ascertain Gampopa’s definitive position regarding a non-tantric Mahāmudrā .

Nonetheless, it is clear that our thoughts and appearances are not separate from our true/fundamental nature. For that reason, it makes sense to say that our innate ‘sun’ can be ‘tapped into’ at any moment of presence, non-duality and awareness. Like the sun that remains behind clouds, its rays still reach us, even on the darkest and coldest days, the clouds do not touch it and cannot make it disappear.  In that respect, it shines for all, regardless of caste, creed, religion and gender and is not the sole domain of a few (with the secret knowledge) either.


Or ‘Inseparable’?

Written, translated and compiled by Adele Tomlin, 24th July 2021.


Gampopa (sGam po pa bSod nams rin chen) (1079–1173).

——”tshogs chos yon tan phun tshogs.” In Collected Works of Gampopa (gsung ‘bum/_sgam po pa). TBRC W23439. 1: 527 – 597. kathmandu: khenpo s. tenzin & lama t. namgyal, 2000.

——”dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhus lan/.” In Collected Works of Gampopa (gsung ‘bum/_sgam po pa). TBRC W23439. 2: 113 – 298. 

——”snying po’i ngo sprod don dam gter mdzod/.” In gsung ‘bum/_sgam po pa. TBRC W23439. 3: 167 – 206. 

Broido, Michael. 

 ———1985. Padma dKar-po on the Two Satyas. JIABS 8/2.

———1987. “Sa-skya Paṇḍita, the White Panacea and the Hva-shang Doctrine.” The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 10(2), 27–68.

Jackson, David P. 1990. “Sa-skya Paṇḍita the ‘Polemicist’: Ancient Debates and Modern Interpretations.” The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 13(2), 17–116.

 ———1994. Enlightenment by a Single Means: Tibetan Controversies on the “Self-Sufficient White Remedy” (dkar po chig thub). Beiträge zur Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens, 12. Wien: Verlag der Österreichischen Akadamie der Wissenschaften.

Jackson, Roger R. 1982. “Sa-skya Paṇḍita’s Account of the bSam yas Debate: History as Polemic.” The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 5(2), 89–99.

Jigten Gonpo (‘jig rten mgon po). “phyag rgya chen po lhan gcig skyes sbyor gyi ngo sprod ma rig mun sel ye shes snang ba’i rgyun/.” In gsung ‘bum/_’jig rten mgon po. TBRC W23743. 9: 477 – 534. Delhi: Drikung Kagyu Ratna Shri Sungrab Nyamso Khang, 2001.

Kragh, Ulrich T. 1998. ‘Culture and Subculture: A Study of the Mahāmudrā Teachings of Sgam po pa.’ MA Thesis, University of Copenhagen.

———2015. Tibetan yoga and mysticism: A textual study of the yogas of Nāropa and Mahāmudrā meditation in the medieval tradition of Dags po. Studia philologica Buddhica, Monograph series, 32. Tokyo: The International Institute for Buddhist Studies.

van der Kuijp, Leonard. 1986. “On the Sources for Sa skya Paṇḍita’s Notes on the Bsam yas Debate.” The Journal of the International Association of Buddhist Studies 9(2), 147–53.

Kvaerne, Per. 1975. On the Concept of Sahaja in Indian Buddhist Tantric Literature, Temenos, XI, 88-135.

Guarisco, Elio and Mcleod, Ingrid. 2008.  Elements of Tantric Practice: Book Eight, Part Three: by Jamgon Kongtrul, Snow Lion Publications (2008).

Karmapa, 17th, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. (January-February 2021). See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHdir1QP-Zs

———The Doctor of Dagpo (Dagpo Lhaje) whose family tragedy led to monkhood: ”Four Dharmas’ of Gampopa’ by 17th Karmapa (Part II)

———When Gampopa met Milarepa: A tale of beggars, buttocks and bliss. ‘Four Dharmas’ of Gampopa by 17th Karmapa (Part III)

———The Crown Jewel of Kagyu’;: Gampopa’s Collected Works, Last Testament and Textual Sources : ‘Four Dharmas’; of Gampopa by 17th Karmapa (Part IV)

———May Dharma go along with Dharma’: The difference between ‘real Dharma’ and ‘pretend Dharma’: ‘Four Dharmas’; of Gampopa by 17th Karmapa (Part V)

———‘Dharma is not ‘one size fits all’: The importance of individual levels, the infallibility of karma and seeing others’ good qualities: ‘Four Dharmas of Gampopa’ by 17th Karmapa (Part VI)

Scheuermann, Rolf. 2016. “sGam po pa’s Doctrinal System: A Systematic Way to Buddhahood for Beings of Varying Capacity, Both Gradual and Sudden?”, Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines, 37, December 2016, pp. 335–351.

Tāranātha, Jetsun: “rdo rje’i rnal ‘byor gyi ‘khrid yig mthong ba don ldan gyi lhan thabs ‘od brgya ‘bar ba/.” In Collected Works of Tāranātha (Peking edition), Volume 7, 143-420. TBRC W1PD45495 (krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang) 2008. Translated by Adele Tomlin (2021).

Tomlin, Adele (2020), The meaning of ‘innate’ (lhan skyes) in generation stage Kālacakra.

Trungram, Gyaltrul Rinpoche Sherpa (2004) Gampopa, the Monk and the Yogi: His Life and Teachings, PhD thesis, Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University. http://vajrayana.faithweb.com/Gampopa.pdf


[1] Sems nyid in Tibetan is also sometimes translated as ‘fundamental mind’ or ‘nature of mind’.

[2] Gampopa, For the most extensive and detailed analysis in English of this text and others in the Collected Works, see Kragh (201%). Dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhus lan p. 278-9: sems nyid lhan cig skyes pa ni/ sems kyi rang bzhin nam ngo bo de yin/ snang ba lhan cig skyes pa ni/ de las byung ba’i rnam par rtog pa de yin/ de yang nyi ma dang nyi ma’i ’od bzhin nam/ tsan dan dang tsan dan gyi dri lta bu yin/.

[3] Dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhu lan, p.279.

[4] Dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhu lan: ces gsungs pa’o/ / phyag rgya chen po’i man ngag rin po che’i sgron me/ khu dbon gsum gyi gsung sgros/ slob dpon sgom chung gis slob dpon stod lung pa la gdams/ / des bdag la gnang ngo//

[5] Most writings in Gampopa’s collected works (bka’ ’bum) (first printed in 1520) originate either from his students or are later compilations.

[6] Dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhu lan: rin po che’i zhal nas lam rnam pa gsum du ’gro dgos gsung ngo/ rjes dpag lam du byed pa dang/ byin brlabs lam du byed pa dang/ mngon sum lam du byed pa gsum yin gsung/ mtshan nyid dam pha rol du phyin pa ni rjes dpag lam du byed pa bya ba yin/ theg pa chen po gsangs sngags ni bskyed rdzogs gnyis la brten nas byin brlabs lam du byed pa yin/ mngon sum lam du byed pa ni lhan cig skyes pa ’od gsal bya ba yin gsung/.

[6] Dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhu lan: yang gsum ste dbang po brtul po dad pa can tshogs kyi lam du ’jug pa ni pha rol tu phyin pa’o/ ’bring rtog pa dang nyon mongs pa can thabs kyi lam du ’jug pa ni gsang sngags so/ /dbang po rnon po shes rab can de kho na nyid la ’jug pa ni phyag rgya chen po’o/.

[7] For the three paths system of Gampopa, see Sherpa (2004: 130) and Jackson, D. (1994: 25–28).

[8] Dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhu lan: shin tu dka’ ba yin gsung/_bla ma’i zhal nas nga ni rims kyis par ‘dod pa yinagasung/_ngas bla ma mi la’i drung du mi mang rab cig yong pa’i dus su/[  ]rdzogs chen ‘di ci rtsug lags zhus pas/_bla ma mar pa’i zhal nas chos men pa skad zer te/_chos men par mi ‘dug/ sa drug pa bdun pa yan chad gyi chos su ‘dug gsung/_de nas byis pa lo lnga tsam_lon pa zhig la ‘dzub mo btsugs nas/_rdzogs chen pa rnams ‘di dang ‘dra ba yin te/_byis pa ‘di na re nga la skyes bu lo nyi shu rtsa lnga lon pa’i nus pa yong zer ba dang ‘dra ba yin/_rdzogs chen pa rnams kyang da lta sangs rgyas pa skad zer te/_don dang mi ldan gsung//

[9] I repost here again what Tāranātha said about the term:

“According to Tāranātha, in A Hundred Blazing Lights (p258)the term lhenkye has two general meanings, the first means like the primary seed or root that flourishes into a tree with many branches and fruit and so on. The term is only applied to the union of the two armed, one face yab-yum consorts and not to a single deity figure though and the label is posited based on the aspects of the deity and union. The translation ‘primordially present’ or ‘innate’ seems suitable for that meaning:

There are two intellectual meanings (go don) of ‘lhan kyes’ (innate). The first meaning is ‘primordial’ (gdod ma) or ‘root’ (rtsa ba) or ‘foremost’ (thog ma nyid). It, is like the seed, or root, of the flourishing bough of a tree with many leaves, of a deity with many hands and faces. Positing one with two hands, is normally like positing the root of the world, it is smaller and fewer but proliferates and becomes bigger and bigger.  Here, also the ‘innate’ of one face and two hands is the most well known in the ordinary secret mantrayana.  The source of this term does not come from meaning one solitary figure only, as in one hero and one heroine, they are not called ‘spontaneously arisen’ (or co-emergent) for that reason. They are renowned as ‘simultaneously arisen’ as the one singular form of the two hand deities of father-mother consort in face to face union. On top of that meaning, the quantity of faces and hands for the ‘cause’ and’ result’ is different. Even though distinctions between the branches and the root are not definite, in the context of the exemplificatory meaning (mtshon don), the cause (or root), the Dharmakāya free of elaborations, is symbolised by the two-handed form.  As for the result, the nirmanakāya free from elaborations, is symbolised by a form with many faces and hands. The cause (or root) deity is known as ‘lhenkye’. Thus the way of positing the name ‘simultaneously arisen’ [lhenkye] is based on the aspects of the object that are generated.

In terms of the second understanding of simultaneous-arising, Tāranātha gives an explanation of it as it is related to the primordial ‘simultaneous’ nature of the ultimate nature of a sentient beings’ body, speech and mind (p.259):

“The body, speech and mind of sentient beings, those three, and the body speech and mind of Buddha, those three, have always been primordially simultaneously present [or together]. For sentient beings, as the incidental and temporary stains obscure that and it is unknown, contemplating the meaning of shunyata [emptiness], the ordinary stains of the body, speech and mind transform into the body, speech and mind of the form of the deity; the primordial awareness that is primordially established.  That way of meditating with devotion is called meditation on the ‘simultaneously present’ [lhenkye]. This way of imagining and ritual of creation is thus labelled as ‘meditation on the simultaneously present’. Even though it is suitable to do a concise or extensive generation ritual, such as here, from that of a single hero deity up until an extensive mandala, and it is contained within the meaning of the term ‘lhenkye’, the label ‘lhenkye’ is not applied to a form with many faces and hands with retinue. It is like the reasoning of the followers of secret mantra, who established via extremely well-known valid cognition, that even though there are many other things that are ‘born from water’, the term ‘born from water’ is applied only to lotuses.”

[10] Dus gsum mkhyen pa’i zhus lan p. 279: sems nyid lhan cig skyes pa ni/ sems kyi rang bzhin nam ngo bo de yin/ snang ba lhan cig skyes pa ni/ de las byung ba’i rnam par rtog pa de yin/ de yang nyi ma dang nyi ma’i ’od bzhin nam/ tsan dan dang tsan dan gyi dri lta bu yin/.

[11] Tshogs chos yon tan phun tshogs, p.575: “sems nyid lhan cig skyes pa chos kyi sku rang byung phyag rgya chen po rtogs par shog/ chos rje sgam po pa’i tshogs chos yon tan phun tshogs zhes bya ba rdzogs so//”

[12] This teaching was said to be given by Gampo Sonam Lundrub (1488-1552) on Mount Shanti in order for the Kagyu teachings to flourish (zhes pa ‘di ni/ rje nyid kyi dbon po spyan snga chos kyi rje/ bsod nams lhun grub zla ‘od rgyal mtshan dpal bzang pos/ ri bo shAn tir bka’ brgyud kyi bstan pa spel ba’i slad du par du bgyis pa’o//). Quote text is:

 “sems nyid lhan cig skyes pa dang*/_snang ba lhan cig skyes pa’o/_/dang po ni chos sku yin la/_gnyis pa ni chos sku’i ‘od yin no/_/_sems nyid lhan cig skyes_ pa chos kyi sku’i rang bzhin ma bcos pa yin/_ngo bo ngos bzung dang bral ba yin te/_dper na nam mkha’ lta bu’o/_/snang ba lhan cig skyes pa chos sku’i ‘od ni/_dge mi dge lung ma bstan pa rnam par rtog pa du ma dang bcas pa yin no/_/

de nyid gcig gam tha dad ce na/_ma rtogs pa rnams la tha dad pa ltar snang la/_rtogs pa rnams la gcig ste/_dper na/_tsan dan dang tsan dan gyi dri bzhin nam/_nyi ma dang nyi ma’i zer bzhin nam/_chu dang chu’i rlabs bzhin no/_/”

[13] Scheuermann, 2016: p341. See also Jackson 1994: 72. For the discussion on the controversy surrounding the White Panacea and its relation to the famous Samye (bSam yas) debate, see also Jackson 1982, van der Kuijp 1986, Broido 1987 and Jackson 1990.

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