Machig Labdrön and the Nature of Mind


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Machig Labdrön was an 11th century Tibetan yogini widely renowned for developing the practice lineage of Chöd. She was recognized by the great scholars of her day to be an authentic master and had thousands of disciples. Machig was one of the few Tibetan women to establish practice lineages of her own, and her teachings have been disseminated into every school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Although she is most well-known for her teachings on Chöd, the core of Machig’s teachings is meditation on the Nature of Mind. This doesn’t refer to the conventional thinking mind, but the nature of mind itself that underlies our thought. It is the basis for teachings on Mahamudra, Dzogchen, and Prajnaparamita.

Machig’s method of perceiving this basic nature is through directing one’s awareness towards awareness itself. When we turn our awareness back at itself, what do we see? The true nature of reality reveals itself experientially through this kind of direct practice, rather than through analysis or intellectual rumination.

In this program, participants will be lead through the final teachings that Machig offered to her students, known as “Machig’s Last Instructions.” These pith instructions cover the most essential and profound aspects of the great yogini’s lineage. She says of these teachings, “This old lady has no instructions more profound than this to give you.”

Lama Tsultrim Allione found and translated the namthar (hagiography) of Machig Labdrön for her ground-breaking book Women of Wisdom in the 1980s. In 2007, she was formally recognized as an emanation of Machig by two of the principal holders of Machig’s lineage. Since then, her main work has been to collect and re-establish the lineage of Machig Labdrön.

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