The Full Wiki

Tilopa: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Tilopa (Prakrit; Sanskrit: Talika or Tilopada, 988–1069) was born in either Chativavo (Chittagong), Bengal or Jagora, Bengal.[1] He was a tantric practitioner and mahasiddha. He developed the mahamudra (Tibetan: phyag rgya chen po) method, a set of spiritual practices that greatly accelerates the process of attaining bodhi (enlightenment).

He is regarded as the human founder of the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and is, in effect, the Buddha Vajradhara.

Tilopa was born into the brahmin (priestly) caste – according to some sources, a royal family – but he abandoned the monastic life upon receiving orders from a dakini (female buddha whose activity is to inspire practitioners) who told him to adopt a mendicant and itinerant existence. From the beginning, she made it clear to Tilopa that his real parents were not the persons who had raised him, but instead were primordial wisdom and universal voidness. Advised by the dakini, Tilopa gradually took up a monk’s life, taking the monastic vows and becoming an erudite scholar. The frequent visits of his dakini teacher continued to guide his spiritual path and close the gap to enlightenment.

He began to travel throughout India, receiving teachings from many gurus:

During a meditation, he received a vision of Buddha Vajradhara and, according to legend, the entirety of mahamudra was directly transmitted to Tilopa. After having received the transmission, Tilopa embarked on a wandering existence and started to teach. He appointed Naropa, his most important student, as his successor.


Six Words of Advice

Tilopa gave Naropa a teaching called the Six Words of Advice, the original Sanskrit or Bengali of which is not extant; the text has reached us in Tibetan translation. In Tibetan, the teaching is called gnad kyi gzer drug[2] – literally, “six nails of key points” – the aptness of which title becomes clear if one considers the meaning of the English idiomatic expression, “to hit the nail on the head.”

According to Ken McLeod, the text contains exactly six words; the two English translations given in the following table are both attributed to him.

Six Words of Advice
First short, literal translation Later long, explanatory translation Tibetan (Wylie transliteration)
1 Don’t recall Let go of what has passed mi mno
2 Don’t imagine Let go of what may come mi bsam
3 Don’t think Let go of what is happening now mi shes
4 Don’t examine Don’t try to figure anything out mi dpyod
5 Don’t control Don’t try to make anything happen mi sgom
6 Rest Relax, right now, and rest rang sar bzhag

Mahamudra instructions

Tilopa also gave mahamudra instruction to Naropa by means of the song known as “The Ganges Mahamudra,” one stanza of which reads:

The fool in his ignorance, disdaining Mahamudra,
Knows nothing but struggle in the flood of samsara.
Have compassion for those who suffer constant anxiety!
Sick of unrelenting pain and desiring release, adhere to a master,
For when his blessing touches your heart, the mind is liberated.[3]

Attachment and enjoyment

One of the most famous and important statements attributed to Tilopa is: “The problem is not enjoyment; the problem is attachment.”


  1. ^ Kagyu Office: Tilopa
  2. ^ Tsele Natsok Rangdröl (tr. Erik Pema Kunsang), Lamp of Mahamudra: The Immaculate Lamp that Perfectly and Fully Illuminates The Meaning of Mahamudra, The Essence of All Phenomena, Boston & Shaftesbury: Shambhala, 1989, p. 72 and n. 18.
  3. ^ Keith Dowman / Tilopa's Instruction to Naropa

External links

Preceded by
Dorje Chang
Kagyupa school Succeeded by


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Tilopa (9881069) was an Indian tantric practitioner and mahasiddha. He discovered the mahamudra process, a set of spiritual practices that greatly accelerated the process of attaining bodhi (enlightenment).



  • Have a mind that is open to everything, and attached to nothing.
  • No thought, no reflection, no analysis, no cultivation, no intention; let it settle itself.
  • The problem is not enjoyment, the problem is attachment.

External links

Wikipedia has an article about:

Simple English

Tilopa (Prakrit; Sanskrit: Talika or Tilopada,988–1069) was a tantric practitioner and mahasiddha. He was born in either Chativavo (Chittagong), Bengal or Jagora, Bengal into the brahmin (priestly) caste. He had several teachers and meditated a lot under their guidance: Saryapa, Lawapa, Indrabhuti, Nagarjuna . Finaly he reached Mahamudra or state of complete enlightement. Tilopa is regarded as founder of Kagyu lineage of Vajrayana Buddhism. His main student is Naropa.


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address