Jesus Yoga & Tilopa’s Mahamudra


Come to me, all who are weary and heavy-laden. I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me . .  for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.










Mind itself is self-liberated dharmakaya. Within which arises self-liberated mahamudra. This key to self-liberated experience I possess.





Great masters leave their mark on this world through their teachings and ultimately the lineage of followers who carry on their work. We are greatly blessed in this historical epoch to have access to two of humanity’s great spiritual yogins. Jesus personified compassion. His example and stories have fashioned a mind set that places ‘a love of neighbor as oneself’ at the cornerstone of behavior.

Tilopa was born in India one thousand years after Jesus. From Tilopa we have the quintessential teachings on mind known as Mahamudra. Tibetan Buddhism is predicated on the principal of Mahamudra. In Sanskrit Maha means ‘great’ and Mudra means ‘seal’.  When Tilopa’s lineage was passed on to Naropa and carried into Tibet by Marpa, Mahamudra became phyag-gya-chen-po. Not content with merely translating the literal meaning the Tibetan yogins went one step further and built into their dialogue a vocabulary that infused each particular word with additional significance. Phyag-gya means not only seal but ‘vast’.  Phyag also means ‘hand’ as well ‘cleaning tool’, i.e. a broom or sponge. Therefore, Mahamudra is a meditational system which purifies our mind of impurities. Our mind is left capable of of recognizing it’s own true nature: at once both vast and empty- Dharmakaya. This ‘recognition’ is ‘self-arisen’ therefore ‘self-liberating’ and the experience is complete, ‘sealed.’



Tilopa’s most famous expression has been I, Tilopa, have no human guru. My guru is mighty Vajradhara.  As Tai Situ Rinpoche (whose calligraphy is shown above) explains: Let us be careful not to misinterpret this declaration. It was made neither through pride nor through ingratitude to the many, often illustrious, teachers who had helped him in the earlier part of his life. It is certain that he appreciated all those scholars, mahasiddhas’ and dakinis’ help a great deal and that he continued to respect them. By this stage in his life, he had attained perfect realization and full mastery of vajra-like samadhi: he was totally inspired by Buddha Vajradhara (Bearer of the Thunderbolt) and possessed his power of absolute certainty — the extraordinary personal transmissions. It would have been a matter of course for his Indian disciples to inquire after his gurus and the traditions he represented. It was natural for him to reply as above, to impress upon them the power and freshness of his own direct realization and his first-hand link with enlightenment.dakpo-tashi-namgyal-001


Dakpo Tashi Namgyal (1511-1587) was responsible for codifying the techniques we refer to today as Mahamudra. His exhaustive and thorough treatise The Perfect Description of Moonlight that Illuminates the Stages of Ultimate Mahamudra was the first Tibetan text on meditation translated into English (at the behest of the 16th Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje).

Anyone stuck inside a human body should not consider going through life without the ultimate owner’s manual Clarifying the Natural State.  Concise and clearly written this is a practical, how-to on meditation (sort-of-like the old books on keeping your VW van alive). Consider Three key points: Remain fresh in unconcerned naturalness. Remain artless and uncontrived without judging. Remain unbound and uninvolved with striving.  For this there are Five Analogies: Elevate your experience and remain wide-open like the sky. Expand your mindfulness and remain pervasive like the earth. Steady your attention and remain unshakable like a mountain. Brighten your awareness and remain shining like a flame. Clear your thought-free wakefulness and remain lucid like a crystal.


In the middle of the twentieth century, shortly after the horrors of the second world war, Autobiography of a Yogi 001three events took place that rewrote our concept of Jesus, the man and his message. First the discovery at Nag Hammadi, Egypt in 1945 of ancient Christian texts buried some 400 years after the death of Jesus. Included among the codices found was a complete copy of the Gospel of Thomas (the above quote is taken from that text). One year later (1946) Paramahansa Yogananda released Autobiography of a Yogi. On October 4, 1948 Harcourt, Merton-Seven Storey Mtn 001Brace published Thomas Merton’s seminal autobiography The Seven Storey Mountain. Seventy years on both of these books have been among the top selling spiritual books. Yogananda and Merton charted parallel paths, one beginning in the West and turning Eastward, the other born in India brought yoga to America and has been instrumental in forging a fresh view on the meaning of Christ.

Thomas Merton was single-handedly responsible for an upsurge in Catholic vocations after SSM was released. His ability to communicate on issues of faith, conscience and inner flaws made him an icon for a generation. He became the public conscience for opposition to nuclear proliferation even when the Catholic Church tried to silence him. Even more importantly he was a one-man band  for inter-faith dialogue. Again the church tried silencing him, even threatening excommunication when he began a now famous exchange of letters with Zen Master D.T. Suzuki. Shortly before his death in 1968 Merton met, and impressed Tibetan lamas who had only recently found refuge in India. The Dalai Lama said Merton was the one who “introduced him to the real meaning of the word Christian.” He also cited Thomas Merton as one of the three most influential influences on his own life.

Christopher Pramuk points out in the best-ever study of Merton’s work, SOPHIA: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton the key element Merton focused on: the unity inherent in disparity. “What Zen realization shares with biblical-mystical faith is precisely the disarming experience of ‘a breakthrough . . . a recovery of unity which is not the suppression of opposites but a simplicity beyond opposites’.”

Thomas Merton calls us still to invest new energy and faith in our search for the Hidden Christ within — Christ has planted in the world the seeds of something altogether new, but they do not grow by themselves. . . For the world to be changed, man himself must begin to change it, he must take the initiative, he must step forth and make a new kind of history.

As Merton looked Eastward to expand his relationship with Christian Wisdom Paramahansa Yogananda emblazoned the ancient Indian science of yoga across the face of America, literally from sea to sea. Indian spiritual tradition both praises the human guru and holds their teaching and example as a beacon toward which the student strives and attains. Such is the inherent power in the Indian subcontinent’s message that the mystical path must result in the dedicated practitioners attaining the enlightenment they will then inspire in the next generation. It must be so or the lineage perishes.

The Apostle Thomas carried the teachings of Jesus to India, he lived there, he died there. The Gospel of Thomas has awakened a long dormant element in the Christian tradition. For two thousand years Western Christianity presented Jesus as a being fromyoga-of-jesus-001 whom we could seek pardon and protection but not someone we could ever hope to approach face-to-face as equals.  Now we know that was not the message Jesus gave to his own followers: Jesus said, “If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you. . .  I am the light of the world which is before all things. From me all things come forth, and to me all things extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there, lift up the stone, and you will find me. . . Whoever drinks from my mouth will become as I am, and I myself will become that person, and the mysteries shall be revealed to them.” Gospel of Thomas

The Gospel of Thomas continues: Jesus took Thomas and withdrew, and told him three things. When Thomas returned to his companions, they asked him, “What did Jesus say to you?” Thomas said, “If I tell you even one of the things which he told me, you will pick up stones and throw them at me; and a fire will come out of the stones and burn you up”. The traditional Gospels state clearly that Jesus gave his close students teachings on a deeper level than presented in the New Testament. This is to be expected, a Master who could heal with extraordinary power, speak deep truths simply and clearly through parable and even indeed walk through his own death experience consciously and produce clear evidence of that experience transmitted some of his own power to others. Luke’s Acts of the Apostles has ample evidence of the disciples newfound powers. The Holy Face veil in Manopello, Italy (The Face of God) is total physical proof of the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus left us a trail and then buried the tracks for two thousand years, until now. It is up to those who believe to seize upon this moment and manifest the Consciousness of Christ through belief, prayer and mediation

Paramahansa Yogananda’s message is inseparable from his own relationship with Jesus. Yogananda wrote in THE SECOND COMING OF CHRISTTruth is no theory, no speculative system of philosophy, no intellectual insight. Truth is an exact correspondence with reality. For man, truth is unshakeable knowledge of his real nature, his Self as soul. Jesus, by every act and word of his life, proved that he knew the truth of his being–his source in God. Wholly identified with the omnipresent Christ Consciousness, he could say with finality, “Everyone that is of the truth will hear my voice”. . . The decipherment of this secret code is an art that man cannot communicate; here the Lord alone is the teacher.  Of course, Yogananda is not downplaying the role his own guru, Sri Yukteswar, played in his life. He is merely echoing Tilopa’s teaching, on the final mountain top we attain our own transfiguration and came face to face with reality in it’s most elemental form — a burning bush, Vajradhara or Moses and Elijah.

Which brings us full circle to the present practitioners of Christianity and Buddhism.

book-of-joy-001No dark fate determines the future. We do. Each day and each moment, we are able to create and re-create our lives and the very quality of human life on our planet. This is the power we wield. Lasting happiness cannot be found in pursuit of any goal or achievement. It does not reside in fortune or fame. It reside only in the human mind and heart, and it is here we hope you will find it. Tenzin Gyatso/Desmond Tutu

Happiness is often seen as being dependent on external circumstances, joy is not. Desmond Tutu

Our human nature has been distorted. We are actually quite remarkable creatures. In our religions I am created in the image of God. I am a God carrier.rabble-rouser-for-peace-001 It’s fantastic. I have to be growing in godlikeness, in caring for the other. I know that each time I have acted compassionately, I have experienced a joy in me that I find in nothing else. Desmond Tutu, Rabble Rouser for Peace, a barefoot schoolboy from a deprived black township who became an international symbol of the democratic spirit and religious faith. The Bible is dynamite . . . nothing could be more radical. . . Prayer and social action is not an either-or proposition. Rather, prayer inevitably drove me off my knees into action.

The Dalai Lama visited Belfast in northern Ireland after the Troubles. He was invited to attend a private meeting where victims and perpetrators of violence were present. The atmosphere was very tense, as the suffering was practically palpable in the air. As the meeting began, a former Protestant militant spoke of how, when he was growing up, he was told by other loyalists that what they did in opposition to the Catholics was justified because Jesus was a Protestant and not a Catholic. Knowing that Jesus was, of course, a Jew the Dalai Lama laughed so hard that he completely changed the atmosphere. Able to laugh at the absurdity of our prejudices and our hatreds, everyone was able to communicate more honestly and compassionately with each other. THE BOOK OF JOY


“I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone.” Thomas Merton


Lennon/Harrison: Music as Consciousness

In the twentieth century two towering figures reshaped the world, it’s meaning and our minds. George Harrison and John Lennon (shown here on Bob Spitz’s excellent account of The Beatles). Their list of accomplishments is staggering. Simply put, though, George and John introduced Asian culture to Western youth. In 1966 John was reading The Psychedelic Experience: A Manual Based on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary. This wonderful book is itself based on The Tibetan Book of the Dead the classic teaching by Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche. Tomorrow Never Knows was the first recording made for what became the Revolver album. To Lennon, the book cried out for a soundtrack. He set this road map to the mind with the ultimate garage-rock conceit; a single chord driven furiously from beneath by bass and drums, with only two shifting modal harmonies up top . . . Tim Riley Trying to achieve the effect of Tibetan monks chanting John inspired EMI’s engineers at Abbey Roads Studio to develop two new techniques that were introduced on Tomorrow Never Knows. ADT (Automatic Double Tracking) used two tape recorders to capture one vocal and this was coupled with Flanging, a term applied when one of the tapes is deliberately delayed. The song was styled on Indian classical music using the C note as a tonic and dispensing with traditional chord changes. George supplied the drone effect by playing a tamboura. As radical as the musical concepts on Tomorrow Never Knows it is the thought stream on which the musical scheme floats that reverberate to this day . Turn off your mind relax and float down stream It is not dying, it is not dying Lay down all thoughts, surrender to the void, It is shining, it is shining. Yet you may see the meaning of within It is being, it is being Love is all and love is everyone It is knowing, it is knowing And ignorance and hate mourn the dead It is believing, it is believing But listen to the colour of your dreams It is not leaving, it is not leaving These lyrics, written by John Lennon, inspired by Timothy Leary are actually the teachings of Guru Rinpoche/Padmasambhava, who lived in the eighth century and is credited with bringing Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet. Padmasambhava was both yogi and magician. He subdued the many wrathful, craved, demonic elements that held dominion over much of the rugged Himalayan ranges. In doing so he secreted many treasure teachings (ter chos) to be discovered by subsequent followers at more appropriate times for the message. The Great Liberation by Hearing on the Intermediate Steps (known in the West as The Tibetan Book of the Dead) is a manual that details the nature of the after-death state  and provides meditation practices to understand the nature of mind and prepare practitioners for travel through the Bardo realms. The first English translation was made in 1927 by Lama Kazi Dawa Samdup and W. Y. Evans-Wentz who wrote the Preface to Autobiograophy of a Yogi. Bardo means gap; it is not only the interval of suspension after we die but also suspension in the living situation; death happens in the living situation as well. The bardo experience is part of our basic psychological make-up. There are all kinds of bardo experiences happening to us all the time, experiences of paranoia and uncertainty in everday life; it is like not being sure of our ground, not knowing quite what we have asked for or what we are getting into. Chogyam Trungpa – The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Shambhala Dragon Edition The term ‘treasure-teachings’ is generally extended to include not only concealed ‘earth-treasures’ (sa-ter), but also revelations discovered in a telepathic manner directly from the enlightened intention of buddha-mind (gong ter), and pure visionary experience (dag nang). From The Tibetan Book of the Dead translated by Gyurme Dorje and edited by Graham Coleman with Thupten Jinpa. Sung Juk yuganaddha/unification/union/non-dual attainment of Buddha’s form/wisdom body, union of bliss/emptiness, attainment of clear light mind/illusory body Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche a Nyingma/Kagyu Lama from Kham who spent twenty years in Chinese captivity. His earnest willingness to transmit the Dharma experience to young Western practitioners will forever be cherished by all who knew him. Kindness is the essence of Dharma. He carried many rare transmissions and passed them on to the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje among others. He exemplified the Guru Rinpoche lineage. In 1971 George, with encouragement from Ravi Shankar, organized the first rock mega benefit concert at Madison Square Garden for the people of East Pakistan/Bangladesh who had been ravaged by a cyclone and civil war. Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbhar Khan, Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan were among the performers. By 1985 over $12 million had been sent to Bangladesh. To this day all sales of the Concert for Bangladesh CD and DVD benefit the George Harrison Fund for UNICEF. In return for your investment you will hear the finest Bob Dylan set ever recorded. For a thorough history of the Bangladesh horror and the United States’ complicit role read Gary J. Bass’ excellent study, THE BLOOD TELEGRAM: Nixon, Kissinger, and a Forgotten Genocide. Read it and weep. George Harrison gave generously throughout his life to spiritual causes. He exemplifies the Artist/Yogi. Throughout his life as a closet yogi, chanting served as Harrison’s conduit to the mystical world, his favored method of remaining God-conscious and acruing good karma. In a conversation with Mukunda Goswami, he likened life to a piece of string with knots tied in it. The knots represent a person’s karma from previous lives, and the object of a person’s life is to untie the knots already there in order to be free. However, not being aware of that fact, people tend to create more knots while failing to untie the previous ones. Chanting and God-consciousness, Harrison believed, have the power to untie the knots. The key is accepting the truth of the old axiom “As you sow, so shall you reap.” We have no one to blame but ourselves for the situation in which we now find ourselves, but on the other hand we can earn our way back to daylight through positive actions now. And positive action can be as simple as chanting. As Harrison says in “Awaiting on You All”; “But here’s a way for you to get free/ By chanting the names of the Lord and you’ll be free.” Working Class Mystic by Gary Tillery.

There’ll come a time when all of us must leave here Then nothing sister Mary can do Will keep me here with you As nothing in this life that I’ve been trying Could equal or surpass the art of dying Do you believe me? There’ll come a time when most of us return here Brought back by our desire to be A perfect entity Living through a million years of crying Until you’ve realized the art of dying. George Harrison
The time of death arrives for all, uninvited, sudden . . . final.
No tradition has unraveled the intricacies of the death state like Vajrayana (Diamond Thunderbolt) Buddhism. Death and the Art of Dying by Bokar Rinpoche is one in a series of concise elucidations on the principles of Tibetan Buddhism published by Clear Point Press.
In June 1969 Timothy Leary, Tommy Smothers, Allen Ginsberg, Petula Clark, Dick Gregory and others joined John and Yoko in their room at the Queen Elizabeth Hotel in Montreal. Their ensemble recording of Give Peace a Chance reshaped history. The citizen activist we see in the Occupy Movement are the organic flowering from John and Yoko’s seed ideas. This is it boys, over the hill. Stop the killing, Do It Now.
Subliminally at least, most of us who are old enough, remember when we first heard Give Peace a Chance. Released on July 21, 1969, three weeks before the Woodstock Festival. I was going to summer school at the University of Kansas and thinking of visiting my friend Clippy in Tuxedo, New York. I hadn’t heard of the festival until I arrived in NYC. I though it was a hoax, nobody could assemble those acts. But Michael Lang did, I had actually attended one of his three day festivals in Miami the previous December. Thank you for that and more, Michael.
The Beatles - Love 001Its hard to believe that one of the most imaginative and magical Beatle albums would not come out until 2006. LOVE is an editing collaboration between George Martin, his son Giles and Dominic Champagne from Cirque du Soleil. The second cut opens with the chords from A Hard Day’s Night then Ringo’s drum solo from Abbey Road and seques into Get Back. The effect is phenomenal. But the real tour de force is the drumming from Tomorrow Never Knows mixed with George’s vocal from Within You Without You. C’est Magnifique.
In September, 1969 John performed with Yoko, Alan White, Eric Clapton and Klaus Voorman as the Plastic Ono Band at the Toronto Music Festival. Voorman on bass was an old friend from the Hamburg days who also illustrated the awesome Revolver cover.
Mind Games has never been popular with music critics, it’s one of my favorite John Lennon songs.
We’re playing those mind games together Pushing the barriers, planting seeds Playing the mind guerrilla Chanting the mantra, peace on earth We all been playing those mind games forever Some kinda druid dudes lifting the veil Doing the mind guerrilla Some call it magic, the search for the grail Love is the answer and you know that for sure Love is a flower, you got to let it, you got to let it grow So keep on playing those mind games together Faith in the future, outta the now You just can’t beat on those mind guerrillas Absolute elsewhere in the stones of your mind Yeah we’re playing those mind games forever Projecting our images in space and in time Yes is the answer and you know that for sure Yes is surrender, you got to let it, you got to let it go So keep on playing those mind games together Doing the ritual dance in the sun Millions of mind guerrillas Putting their soul power to the karmic wheel Keep on playing those mind games forever Raising the spirit of peace and love For me this song resonates with many of the qualities which I love in Lennon’s music . . . druid dudes . . . the karmic wheel . . .  chanting the mantra peace on earth . . . absolute elsewhere in the stones of your mind.Critics suck! Like what makes you feel good.John Lennon received inspiration from dakinis. His poetic chorus in Number 9 Dream,  “Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé” came to him in a dream.
Dakinis are Feminine Wisdom/Sky Dancers, the guardians of the gates to the Pure Lands. To meet a dakini is to face our own enlightened mind. The great yogis who blazed the paths we follow were all taught by dakinis. Tilopa and Naropa, founders of the Kagyu lineage, both had old hags appear to them and declare that their spiritual attainments which they were so proud of came to naught. Water may wash away stains but never water itself. Perhaps, as Vessantara suggests, “they had so lost themselves in scholarship, that the upsurging forces of inspiration, which dakinis embody, had become dull and neglected. Dakinis are the Dharma felt in one’s gut.”
Simhamuhkha, The Lion Headed Dakini, Sengdoma in Tibetan, was one of the principal teachers of Padmasambhava. Her nature embodies the wrathful force of anger redirected as joy, i.e. enlightenment. Even the most realized teachers do not immediately recognize the dakini, whose ambiguous, semiotic quality accounts for the richness and variety of her lore. Judith Simmer-Brown
Without any production whatsoever, mind itself is the self-liberated dharmakaya within which arises self-liberatred mahamudra: this key, of self-liberated samaya, I possess. Calligraphy by Tai Situ Rinpoche.
This teaching by Tilopa contains the essence of the Kagyu (transmitted mastery) lineage he founded.Tilopa lived in Bagladesh over one thousand years ago, during the day he pounded sesame seed to extract oil, by night he procured customers for a prostitute. Full time, he was an enlightened yogi who trained Naropa who in turn trained Marpa who took the Kagyu transmissions  into Tibet from whence we receive the pure essence of enlightened wisdom from Tai Situ and the Karmapas. For more on dakinis read Dakini’s Warm Breath by Judith Simmer-Brown.The greatest source book for information on Tibetan Buddhism is Meeting the Buddhas by Vessantara (Tony McMahon).Thank you George and John – Life goes on within you and without you.
Aspiration prayer from the Long-Chen Nying-Thig (Heart Essence of the Great Expanse) Assemblage of Vidyadharas translated by Tulku Thondup. Vidyadharas are Knowledge Holders, heart sons of Padmasambhava.
Yeshe Tsogyal, consort and principal student of Padmasambhava. She was the principal steward of the terma tradition that hid spiritual teachings in both physical and spiritual realms to be retrieved by future students. Adverse conditions are the true wealth of the practioner – Guru Rinpoche.