The Words of the Awesome Ones

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Jigme Lingpa

Palchen Düpa

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The Words of the Awesome Ones

A General Overview of the Three Yogas

from the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse

revealed by Jigme Lingpa

Homage to the primordial expanse of Samantabhadra!

The single all-encompassing sphere of awareness
Is the place wherein all phenomena are liberated.
Although inconceivable vehicles of sūtra and mantra are taught,
In fact, there is only one vehicle.

Ignorant, conceptually inclined beings
Will dispute the words of the vehicles.
For as long as beings abound in conceptual thoughts
There will likewise be an inconceivable number of vehicles.
This is what I, Samantabhadra, have taught.

Yet here, if we categorize these vehicles based on beings’ faculties,
There are the superior, middling, and inferior.
When all three are divided once again into three,
Nine vehicles are taught:
The vehicles leading from the origin,
The vehicles of knowledge through ascetic practices,
And the vehicles of powerful transformative methods.

Among them, the paths that swiftly liberate
Extremely fortunate individuals in one lifetime
Are the vehicles of powerful transformative methods:
For those with superior faculties there is the path of the Great Perfection;
For those with middling faculties, the supreme Anuyoga;
And for those with lesser faculties, the Mahāyoga.

The essence of the generation phase is gradualism.
It serves as the ground for the entire Secret Mantra.
The nature of the perfection phase is instantaneity.
It is like the path of all the Secret Mantra.
The Great Perfection is the Dharma beyond the mind.
It is said to be the fruition of all the Secret Mantra.

The Mahāyoga

Absolute, unborn reality radiates
With the miraculous manifestations of the three concentrations.
To purify grasping, the world and beings
Arise as the circle of the palace and the deities.
Concerning the deities born from awareness,
To reduce self-importance,
Apply the antidote of subduing thoughts:
Meditate on the play of the main deity and retinue
In their limitless forms with variations in faces and limbs
That are symbolic and illustrate the ultimate meaning.
When within the emanated maṇḍala of the world and beings
One’s three doors [are blessed] through deity, mantra and samādhi,
Confidence in the practice is born.
Train as one’s own children and the child of others.
From the empowerment of compassion, the empowerment of insight,
And the cakra of the wisdom mudrā:

Firstly, for the approach phase,
All that appears and exists, saṃsāra and nirvāṇa,
Including the aggregates, elements, and sense sources
Are understood to be the utterly pure maṇḍala of deities.
By training in purity,
The Thus-Gone Ones are actualized
As one’s own children.

Secondly, the close approach
Is to approach the wisdom deity itself.
Its blessing ripens your mind
And you train in completely awakening
Unsurpassable wisdom.
Like melting, beating and polishing gold,
Practice naturally and assiduously
And you will become
A child of the Thus-Gone Ones.

Thirdly, there is the accomplishment phase.
The wisdom gained from practicing generation and completion phases
Gives rise to boundless great compassion,
Through the force of which you uphold the great samaya
That is consistent with benefitting all beings.
This is to make the Thus-Gone Ones
One’s own children.

Fourthly, there is the great accomplishment.
Based on the two great accumulations
You and others engage in the maṇḍala of group accomplishment.
Having actualized the qualities of abandonment and realization
The two aims are spontaneously accomplished.
This is to become the child
Of the Thus-Gone Ones.

In this way, through the miraculous display
Of the four branches of approach and accomplishment
You will gain confidence in meditative absorption,[1]
And with its power you will perfect, within the confines of your body,
All the qualities of the ten grounds and the five paths.

Then, there are the manifestations of the three objects,[2]
Killing the three enemies, defeating the four demons
And avoiding the three ravines.

Through the strength of merit and wisdom,
One gains confidence in generation and perfection,
Eliminates course thoughts,
And the forms of the wisdom deities
Initially manifest as mental objects.

Through the power of the deities’ actual appearance reaching their full extent
And the proper training of the mind
The deities manifest as sensory objects.

Finally, when the body and mind are perfectly trained
The deities of the indivisible two truths
Manifest in actuality as tangible objects.

When these three objects are mastered
The appearance of the impure body is conquered
And you reach the supreme levels
Of the matured, power-over-life, mahāmudrā
And spontaneously accomplished vidyādhara.

When the circle of generation
Is sealed with the profound perfection phase
The outer enemy of grasping at ‘mine’,
The inner enemy of clinging to a self
And the secret enemy of emotions and all dualistic grasping
Are destroyed by the pure deity’s aggregates.
The sign that you have slain the three enemies
Is that you no longer cling to the ordinary aggregates.

The four demons are defeated in the following way.
Within the vast expanse of great bliss,
From the causal Heruka, the union of means and insight—
The play of the great bliss-emptiness,
Arise clouds of bodhicitta nectar,
Inconceivable wisdom,
In arrays that radiate and are reabsorbed.
Without any attachment or grasping, the five poisons are enacted,
Offerings made to the Noble Ones and the benefit of others fulfilled.
At that time, the demon of emotions is defeated.

By knowing that all attachment, anger and grasping thoughts
Are the radiance of non-dual, naturally arisen wisdom,
Then, within the dharmatā reality free from abandoning and attaining
And beyond the bias of refuting and establishing things,
The deceitful demon of the son of the gods is defeated.

By realizing that the five limbs of the vajra aggregates
Are the five perfect buddhas
And by taking the form of the pure deity,
The demon of the ordinary aggregates is defeated.

The final fruition of the two accumulations
Is buddhahood and confidence in the generation and perfection phases.
Therein not a single thought
Of birth or death exists,
And so the demon of the Lord of Death is defeated.

Through the view free from partiality
You escape the ravine of doubt and uncertainty.
Through the meditation free from brightness and dimness
You escape the ravine of dullness and agitation.
Through the samayas of unerring conduct
You escape the ravine of the inferior vehicles.

The bases of purification are the ordinary body, speech, and mind,
And the agents of purification are deity, mantra, and samādhi,
Through which the results of purification, the Sugata’s body, speech, and mind, are obtained.
Within the circle of the three vajras
One is fully ripened and obtains ultimate Buddhahood.

These tenets of the Mahāyoga,
I, the Awesome One, have thus explained.


The Great Scripture, Anuyoga

From the ultimate, basic space of phenomena,
The perfectly pure expanse of Samantabhadrī,
Arises awareness—Samantabhadra.

Without relying on words, while resting in the view
Of the natural, spontaneous presence
Of basic space and wisdom indivisible,
Generate the maṇḍala of the relative deity
Through the power of mindful awareness.
Through the profound, spontaneously present meditative concentration
The stains of the two obscurations are purified
And the resultant four kāyas are actualized:
This is taught to be the Anuyoga of perfection.

This tradition defeats the four demons in the following way.
Knowing that the three poisons are primordially the three kāyas,
One realizes that emotions are primordially buddhas.
Beyond refutation and affirmation, adopting and abandoning,
The demon of emotions is defeated.

By realizing that phenomena and individuals,
Imputed as knowable things, visible and designated,
Are selfless and of equal taste,
The dualistic grasping, the demon of the son of the gods, is defeated.

All the aggregates, elements, and sense sources
Are unborn and primordially perfect as the mudrā of the deity.
They are equal yet distinct, and spontaneously present.
Thus attachment and clinging, the demon of the aggregates, is defeated.

Within the unchanging expanse of the nature of reality,
The divisions of life, death, and intermediate state fall away.
Thus within basic space there is nothing to be removed, nothing that obscures,
And so the demon of the Lord of Death is defeated.


The Natural Great Perfection

Know that the deity itself is the actual bodhicitta
And mind itself is the buddha;
This is not created but has always been so.

Anything whatsoever that arises
Is unceasing and unestablished—its nature is clarity.
This natural radiance that is free from thoughts and expressions
Arises as the various mudrās of the major and minor marks.
Merely appearing, yet not established—it is empty.

The way in which this tradition defeats the four demons is as follows.
Sky-like awareness
Has never been tainted by the defects of the poisons.
Quicksilvery wisdom
Defeats the great demon of emotions.

The three planes of existence are primordially awakened,
Spontaneously present as the kāyas and pure realms
And beyond effort and exertion, causes and conditions.
And so the demon of the sons of the gods, with his divine appearance, is defeated.

In the space of great insight beyond thoughts,
The reality wherein there is no reified appearance,
There are no dualistic thoughts of clinging, permanence, and nihilism,
And so the compounded demon of the aggregates is defeated.

Intangible awareness,
The wisdom of mindfulness and clarity,
Is the dharmakāya, beyond birth and death.
And so the demon of the Lord of Death is defeated.

This is the great tenet of Ati.


The three yogas just explained
Can be further subdivided
And explained in nine sections.

The maṇḍala that is gradually generated
Is referred to as the Mahā of Mahā.
The maṇḍala that is spontaneously present
Is referred to as the Anu of Mahā.
The absolute and unborn dharmadhātu
Is known as the Ati of Mahā.

The instantaneously perfected maṇḍala
Is asserted to be the Mahā of Anu.
While the relative is the maṇḍala of the deity,
The absolute is the pure space of phenomena:
This is referred to as the Anu of Anu.
The indivisibility of the deity and natural awareness
Is referred to as the Atiyoga of Anu.

Knowing saṃsāra and nirvāṇa to be primordially the maṇḍala
Is referred to as the Mahā of Ati.
Knowing mind to be spontaneously perfect as the deity’s form
Is referred to as the Anu of Ati.
The essenceless space of the nature of mind,
Free from any conceptual elaborations,
Is referred to as the Ati of Ati.

Here I have explained the generation and perfection phases
Of the ground, path, and fruition,
Three sets of three,
Making nine divisions in total.

An explanation of the samayas was also included here, but I put off deciphering it and did not write it down.

These crucial points are greatly secret and superior to all,
Of few words yet meaningful, the very essence of the tantra section.
This general overview of the three yogas
Was given to the vidyādhara
Bearing the marks of a warrior at the point between his eyebrows,
Who was blessed by Mañjuśrī-dharmamitra.
Then it passed to the great Karmendrāṇī.
When she revealed the intent of the symbolic scripts
I, [Padmasambhava], gained mastery over the great secret treasury of the ḍākinīs,
In the depths of my mind.
May it perfectly enter [my disciples'] hearts
And their perception arise as words and texts.
It is the quintessence of the treasures.
There is no doubt
That my three fortunate heart sons will receive it.
I fully entrust it to them.
If it is taught to unsuitable vessels, its meaning will be distorted.
The protectress of Mantra will guard it.
May the benefit of beings increase and the Teachings flourish!

Samaya! Let the signs be absorbed.

| Translated by Han Kop with the help of Tulku Dawa Zangpo and reviewed by Stefan Mang, for the Longchen Nyingtik Project, 2021.


Tibetan Editions

'jigs med gling pa mkhyen brtse 'od zer. "yo ga gsum gyi spyi chings dpal chen zhal lung" In gsung 'bum/ 'jigs med gling pa/ sde dge par ma. 9 Vols. BDRC W27300. Gangtok, Sikkim: Pema Thinley for Dodrupchen Rinpoche, 1985. Vol. 7: 477–484.

___ . "yo ga gsum gyi spyi chings dpal chen zhal lung", in klong chen snying thig rtsa pod. 5 Vols. BDRC W1KG13585. Bodhnath, Kathmandu and Bodhgaya, Bihar: Shechen Publications, 1994. Vol. 2: 627–637.

Secondary Sources

bkra shis dpal 'byor. "rdzogs pa chen po klong chen snying gi thig le'i yi dam thugs sgrub bla ma drag mthing dpal chen 'dus pa'i las byang gi dgongs don cung zad bshad pa zab don gsal byed rin chen snang ba" in gsung 'bum/_rab gsal zla ba. 25 Vols. BDRC W21809. Delhi: Shechen Publications, 1994. Vol. 13: 469–656.

Version: 1.1-20211226

  1. Skt. samādhi.  ↩

  2. Tib. yul gsum gsal ba  ↩

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