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Mahamudra Meditation

Mahamudra meditation is a method of contemplation practiced as part of Buddhist meditation.  The word Mahamudra derives from a Sanskrit word meaning “great seal” or “great symbol.”  The use of this term is often explained as a reference to the inarguable validity of the meditation experience.  During a genuine experience of Mahamudra meditation, there will be no doubt that the practitioner is experiencing the true nature of the Mind.  Remembering and being able to duplicate this experience will lead to enlightenment over the course of time.  There are a number of different traditions of this meditation, though the end goal and experiences are all similar.  All of the types of Mahamudra originated in India.  Mahamudra meditation is a direct introduction to the nature of the Mind (or Buddha-nature), and the stabilization of the corresponding transcendental realization.  This type of meditation draws upon reflective instructions from all levels and types of Buddhism, encompassing sutra through tantra.  Mahamudra meditation seeks to provide a variety of roads to enlightenment, depending on the individual practitioner’s needs.  This allows one to realize the innate purity, clarity, and perfection of the mind.   Mahamudra meditation represents the fulfillment and culmination of all other meditative practices.

The practitioner of Mahamudra meditation must learn how to concentrate the thoughts and bring them to bear in careful consideration of existence.  This practice is natural and simple.  It is the recognition of the Mind’s luminous emptiness, which exists already.  However, this naturalness and simplicity is not achieved without effort.  The basic practice of Mahamudra meditation is divided into two approaches: tranquility and insight.  Tranquility practice includes settling the mind.  Meditation manuals specify common problems relating to this practice, such as apathy and doubt, and the methods of deliberation to remedy them.  In the insight approach, the meditator is instructed to engage in reflection on their own mind when at rest, and also during thought.  Sometimes disturbing emotions are invoked on purpose to allow the subject to experience rumination on the empty nature of such emotions.  Objects of meditation in Mahamudra practice are simple: breathing, statues of the Buddha, visualizations or mantras.  Questions may be asked of the subject to verify their meditative experiences, allow further insights, and to find and correct wrongful perceptions.  In the art of Mahamudra meditation, a relationship with a teacher is strongly stressed, probably because this form of meditation originates in Tibet.  In earlier days, this teaching would not have been available without the assistance of a teacher.

By Gary Palmer

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