The Meaning Of The Four Yogas

Tashi Namgyal (1512-1587) was a great scholar and meditator in the 16th century. He wrote a detailed explanation of both the fundamental reasons behind Mahamudra meditation and its practice, entitled ‘Moonlight of Mahamudra’.

The following is from the commentary on this text, written by Thrangu Rinpoche and entitled ‘Essentials of Mahamudra’: this section is The Meaning of the Four Yogas.

“The four yogas of one pointedness, freedom of elaboration (simplicity), one taste and non-meditation. Each of these has three internal divisions – lower, middling and great. Thus there is lower one pointed yoga, middle one pointed yoga and the great one pointed yoga and so forth, making a total of twelve internal divisions of the yogas. Moving through these twelve yogas, we arrive at the fruition of complete enlightenment.

“To arrive at one pointed yoga, first we accomplish shamata and then join this with vipashyana. Initially, our shamata is not very stable and the mind will not rest. One pointedness indicates that shamata has become stable – our mind has been brought to rest. Then, through this resting, we see mind clearly; any superimpositions are cut through, and complexity is resolved into simplicity.

“At the lower level of one pointedness, we see the nature of mind; however, we see it in a somewhat coarse manner. Having seen mind’s nature, we become mostly free from anxiety and pain. At the middle level of one pointedness, we achieve power over this meditative stability and begin to have some independence, such that meditation is not difficult or hard work. At the great level of one pointedness, it is said that the experience of meditation surrounds us in every way – meditation is continuous.

“When we develop a genuine, definite conviction and become free from elaboration and complexity, we arrive at the second yoga – freedom from elaborations. This yoga involves recognising luminosity and emptiness, and generating conviction about emptiness.

“At the lower level of freedom from elaboration, we release the unborn nature of phenomena. At the middle level, we understand that phenomena are not only unborn but actually rootless. At the great level, the meditator understands that external appearances are not separate from reality or dharmata, so all projections of external phenomena are completely severed.

“As the experience of the second yoga intensifies, we arrive at the yoga of one taste. Our meditation becomes clearer and we understand that samsara and nirvana are one taste. We understand that which is to be abandoned and that which is to be adopted as one taste.”

To be continued.

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