Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

spinoza
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Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by spinoza »

Hi, as it is evident that the initiation and teachings of Mahāmudrā were bestowed by Gampopa often by mere blessings without tantric empowerments to make them compatible with his Kadam transmission, is it also true that, as Sakya Pandita criticizes, all the transmissions of Mahāmudrā and Anuttarayoga Tantras in the Dagpo Kagyu lineage completely lack the four tantric empowerments(not only the fourth empowerment)?
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tobes
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by tobes »

spinoza wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:22 pm Hi, as it is evident that the initiation and teachings of Mahāmudrā were bestowed by Gampopa often by mere blessings without tantric empowerments to make them compatible with his Kadam transmission, is it also true that, as Sakya Pandita criticizes, all the transmissions of Mahāmudrā and Anuttarayoga Tantras in the Dagpo Kagyu lineage completely lack the four tantric empowerments(not only the fourth empowerment)?
No and no.

For starters, the Kadampas were tantrikas too, and Gampopa received vajrayana empowerments from Milarepa, who received it from Marpa, who received it from many Indian masters, including Naropa and Maitripa. This is not in dispute.

Sakya Pandita asserts that Marpa did not receive Vajrayogini from Naropa, but I don't he think he doubts that he pretty much received everything else.
namoh
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by namoh »

Tobes is correct. If I recall correctly, Sakya Pandita was mainly concerned that the Vajravarahi initiation was being given to people who had not received a two day major empowerment prior. I’m not even sure how much this happened in actual practice in Tibet, because I would imagine that most Kagyu monks on this path of practice would have received the wangchen for at least Demchog as a matter of course in their training. Who knows. Though without any doubt whatsoever, the Dhagpo Kagyu tradition is full of wangs that are complete with all four empowerments.
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ratna
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by ratna »

Kagyu certainly does not lack lineages of full four empowerments, see for example the Kagyu Ngakdzö, Dam-ngak dzö, etc. Some of these bypass Gampopa and go instead through Rechungpa, Ngok etc; but there are also lineages that go through Gampopa, for example the empowerment of Cakrasamvara in the Dakpo Nyengyu.

R
Don't touch me while I'm tantric.
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PeterC
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by PeterC »

spinoza wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:22 pm Hi, as it is evident that the initiation and teachings of Mahāmudrā were bestowed by Gampopa often by mere blessings without tantric empowerments to make them compatible with his Kadam transmission, is it also true that, as Sakya Pandita criticizes, all the transmissions of Mahāmudrā and Anuttarayoga Tantras in the Dagpo Kagyu lineage completely lack the four tantric empowerments(not only the fourth empowerment)?
Are you referring to SaPan's comments on the Kagyu lineage of Yogini? That's a separate and specific issue about whether it's a wang or a jenang etc., I do not think SaPan ever claimed that the Kagyus did not hold *any* lineages of empowerments. Which part of which text are you referring to here?
spinoza
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by spinoza »

PeterC wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 6:30 am
spinoza wrote: Tue Jul 28, 2020 5:22 pm Hi, as it is evident that the initiation and teachings of Mahāmudrā were bestowed by Gampopa often by mere blessings without tantric empowerments to make them compatible with his Kadam transmission, is it also true that, as Sakya Pandita criticizes, all the transmissions of Mahāmudrā and Anuttarayoga Tantras in the Dagpo Kagyu lineage completely lack the four tantric empowerments(not only the fourth empowerment)?
Are you referring to SaPan's comments on the Kagyu lineage of Yogini? That's a separate and specific issue about whether it's a wang or a jenang etc., I do not think SaPan ever claimed that the Kagyus did not hold *any* lineages of empowerments. Which part of which text are you referring to here?
I'm aware that the blessing of Varahi is albeit a completely different issue. The Sakya lama, Lowo Khenchen Sonam Lundrup (Glo bo mkhan-chen bSod nams lhun grub) as quoted by Sarah Harding https://www.tsadra.org/2011/03/25/as-f ... ve-it-wtf/ commented on SaPan's objection to that specific liniage of varahi blessing as
The Vārāhı blessings of the lineage of esoteric instructions of the Nāro tradition were received by Marpa, who gave them to Mila and so on. But thinking that the tradition of the Nyingma mantra, this Blessing of Four Symbols of Vārāhı, was not received by Marpa and not given to Mila and so on, [is the reason for] saying that Marpa of Lhodrak does not have the Vajravārāhı blessing. The sDom gsum rab dbye [is a reference to] the Nyingma tradition of the Sow-headed One (Phag-mgo), the Archer (mda’ gzhu), Mirror (me long) and so forth that have a symbol blessing attached. The taking of the vows of the five families and so on, the prelude (sta gon), entering ritual, distributing the vase water upon entering the main part, and adding on the concluding [auspicious verses] at the end were done by the old Dri[gungs] sentinels (‘gri rgan gyi chos sgo ba). This does not constitute an authentic empowerment conferral, and it is not the lineage coming from Marpa Lotsāwa.
So basically SaPan's objections are interpreted here to be aimed at a Drigung lineage of Nyingma Varahi empowerment, so not at all related with Mahāmudrā and the Highest yoga tantra empowerments.

I was asking about the Mahamudra instructions given by the so called 'Pointing-out' instructions(which is sometimes equated with the fourth empowerment) without the necessity of full four empowerments. SaPan objects that kind of initiation as Mahamudra only occurs in Anuttarayoga tantras and thus requires full four tantric empowerments. I wonder whether besides the Mahamudra instructions without empowerment(only bestowed through Guru Yoga), the Dakpo lineages retain the so called 'Mantrayana' Mahamudra with the complete four empowerments, as well as in the transmissions of unexelled yoga tantras as Cakrasaṃvara.
spinoza
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by spinoza »

ratna wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:58 am Kagyu certainly does not lack lineages of full four empowerments, see for example the Kagyu Ngakdzö, Dam-ngak dzö, etc. Some of these bypass Gampopa and go instead through Rechungpa, Ngok etc; but there are also lineages that go through Gampopa, for example the empowerment of Cakrasamvara in the Dakpo Nyengyu.

R
So the Dagpo liniages also retain tantric Mahamudra with the four empowerments? Also does the Cakrasamvara initiation contain the second and third empowerments in their exact forms?
Last edited by spinoza on Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PeterC
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by PeterC »

spinoza wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:04 am
ratna wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:58 am Kagyu certainly does not lack lineages of full four empowerments, see for example the Kagyu Ngakdzö, Dam-ngak dzö, etc. Some of these bypass Gampopa and go instead through Rechungpa, Ngok etc; but there are also lineages that go through Gampopa, for example the empowerment of Cakrasamvara in the Dakpo Nyengyu.

R
So the Dagpo liniages also retain tantric Mahamudra with the four empowerments? Also does the Cakrasamvara initiation contain the second and third empowerments in their exact forms?
On Heruka: yes of course. And empowerments of many other yidams.

On “tantric mahamudra with the four empowerments”: that depends what you mean by “tantric mahamudra”. By definition a major empowerment containing the fourth empowerment is “tantric mahamudra”. Also, kagyu mahamudra (that is, the meditation curriculum we all know and love) isn’t always tied up with a specific empowerment. But sometimes it’s packaged together with a practice that does involve empowerment such as the fivefold scheme. But this is a difference in how it’s packaged by the different sub-lineages.

Responding to your other post. SaPan’s critique is specifically of so-called sutra mahamudra - mahamudra teachings with no empowerment in the picture. I’m not aware of anywhere that SaPan assets that all the other empowerments transmitted and practised by the Kagyus are also invalid. Malcolm would know better if he ever suggested that.
spinoza
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by spinoza »

PeterC wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:21 am
spinoza wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 9:04 am
ratna wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 5:58 am Kagyu certainly does not lack lineages of full four empowerments, see for example the Kagyu Ngakdzö, Dam-ngak dzö, etc. Some of these bypass Gampopa and go instead through Rechungpa, Ngok etc; but there are also lineages that go through Gampopa, for example the empowerment of Cakrasamvara in the Dakpo Nyengyu.

R
So the Dagpo liniages also retain tantric Mahamudra with the four empowerments? Also does the Cakrasamvara initiation contain the second and third empowerments in their exact forms?
On Heruka: yes of course. And empowerments of many other yidams.

On “tantric mahamudra with the four empowerments”: that depends what you mean by “tantric mahamudra”. By definition a major empowerment containing the fourth empowerment is “tantric mahamudra”. Also, kagyu mahamudra (that is, the meditation curriculum we all know and love) isn’t always tied up with a specific empowerment. But sometimes it’s packaged together with a practice that does involve empowerment such as the fivefold scheme. But this is a difference in how it’s packaged by the different sub-lineages.

Responding to your other post. SaPan’s critique is specifically of so-called sutra mahamudra - mahamudra teachings with no empowerment in the picture. I’m not aware of anywhere that SaPan assets that all the other empowerments transmitted and practised by the Kagyus are also invalid. Malcolm would know better if he ever suggested that.
I am not suggesting that SaPan deemed Kagyu empowerments to be invalid. I was referring to SaPan's critique of the Pointing-out instructions that was equated with the fourth empowerment, I'm unsure whether it is referring only to the Sutra Mahamudra, that's why I asked whether Dagpo Kagyu retains the 'Tantric' Mahamudra that has a requirement of the full four empowerments(not only the fourth which is often given as Pointing-out instructions). By tantric I mean what was reffered to as Mahamudra arising from gnosis of the four empowerments of Mantrayana by SaPan. This is also reffered as Upaya path which Gampopa sometimes avoided for his pupils unfit for tantric empowerments to bestow them these tantric instructions, as said in the blue annals.
Now the Venerable Mid-la did not teach the upaya-marga and the Mahamudra separately, but sGam-po-pa used to preach the hidden precepts of the upayamarga to those only whom he considered fit to receive Tantric Initiations. (On the other hand) he used to bestow the hidden precepts of the Mahamudra on those who were fit to receive the paramitas, though they did not get any (Tantric)initiation .... The understanding of the Mahamudra doctrine was even produced by him in some individuals of weak intellect, poor ones and sinners without delay ...It is said since that time the streams of the bKa'-gdams-pas and those of the Mahamudra became united. (Blue Annals, Roerich 459-460)
What is explained in the above quote, is that the secret methods of the 'upaya marga' Gampopa reserved only
for the elite few who were ready to receive them, while the "hidden precepts of the Mahamudra" were taught to anyone who was fit to receive teachings on and practice the path of the Mahayana - what is referred to above as "the paramitas". Saraha's Adamantine Songs, Lara E. Braitstein
SaPan specifically emphasizes on the requirement of the full empowerments.
If, however, one […] wishes to cultivate the Mantra system, one must unerringly obtain the four initiations. One should cultivate in meditation the two processes without mistake and become well versed in the Great Seal, the Gnosis that rises from these. Our own Great Seal consists of Gnosis risen from initiation.
―The three codes, verses 127–8 and 164 as quoted by The Mahåmudrå of Sakya Pandita Julia Stenzel. also ibid,
In sum, Sapan presents Mahåmudrå as the resultant gnosis of the creation and completion stages, which a disciple can only practice after having received the four initiations of the Niruttara Tantra class from a qualified guru.
This is mainly due to the likeness of non-tantric Mahamudra with the doctrine of sudden awakening that bore great controversy in Tibet, so the requirement of empowerments can maintain the stance on gradual awakening.
Last edited by spinoza on Wed Jul 29, 2020 11:30 am, edited 1 time in total.
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PeterC
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

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spinoza wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 11:24 am I am not suggesting that SaPan deemed Kagyu empowerments to be invalid. I was referring to SaPan's critique of the Pointing-out instructions that was equated with the fourth empowerment, I'm unsure whether it is referring only to the Sutra Mahamudra, that's why I asked whether Dagpo Kagyu retains the 'Tantric' Mahamudra that has a requirement of the full four empowerments(not only the fourth which is often given as Pointing-out instructions). By tantric I mean what was reffered to as Mahamudra arising from gnosis of the four empowerments of Mantrayana by SaPan. This is also reffered as Upaya path which Gampopa sometimes avoided for his pupils unfit for tantric empowerments to bestow them these tantric instructions, as said in the blue annals.
Now the Venerable Mid-la did not teach the upaya-marga and the Mahamudra separately, but sGam-po-pa used to preach the hidden precepts of the upayamarga to those only whom he considered fit to receive Tantric Initiations. (On the other hand) he used to bestow the hidden precepts of the Mahamudra on those who were fit to receive the paramitas, though they did not get any (Tantric)initiation .... The understanding of the Mahamudra doctrine was even produced by him in some individuals of weak intellect, poor ones and sinners without delay ...It is said since that time the streams of the bKa'-gdams-pas and those of the Mahamudra became united. (Blue Annals, Roerich 459-460)
You’re going to have to cite a specific kagyu instruction manual to define what you mean by “Tantric mahamudra” in kagyu. Citing secondary texts that define the thing they’re criticizing will only lead to confusion. Also if it’s a critique of what Gampopa specifically did, you’ll need a text of Gampopa or PhagDru to describe what he did.

The problem with the polemic literature is that it commonly mistates what the target of attack actually taught.

Others like Conebeckham will know this better than me, but you also won’t find a lot of discussion in kagyu mahamudra manuals around whether pointing out is equivalent to the fourth empowerment, or whether you should receive a major empowerment before practising mahamudra, etc. The view of my main kagyu teachers is yes and yes. But that’s not written in any of the manuals I’ve been taught.
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by spinoza »

PeterC wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 12:37 pm
You’re going to have to cite a specific kagyu instruction manual to define what you mean by “Tantric mahamudra” in kagyu. Citing secondary texts that define the thing they’re criticizing will only lead to confusion. Also if it’s a critique of what Gampopa specifically did, you’ll need a text of Gampopa or PhagDru to describe what he did.
The reason I asked this is that I myself am trying to find this so called 'Tantric' Mahamudra lineage as described by SaPan of having a requirement of the four tantric empowerments in the Dagpo Kagyu. Being unfamiliar of such in primary Kagyu texts I had to look in the secondary literature. The Blue Annals clearly say besides Mahamudra instructions to the uninitiated, Gampopa too gave Mahamudra with the traditional four empowerments, where Mahamudra arises as the gnosis of the empowerments. My query is whether this kind of Mahamudra transmission is retained in practice by the Kagyu schools or not. This is not for criticism of Gampopa's Mahamudra transmissions by pointing-out instructions.

The same is written here https://www.lionsroar.com/pointing-out-ordinary-mind/ by DZOGCHEN PONLOP RINPOCHE
Mantra Mahamudra is the tantric, or Vajrayana, form of Mahamudra practice. One enters into the path of mantra Mahamudra by receiving the four stages of tantric empowerment, or abhisheka: the vase abhisheka, secret abhisheka, prajnajnana abhisheka, and word abhisheka. Within these four abhishekas, a different pointing-out instruction is given at each stage. That instruction is practiced until the student accomplishes some level of realization, and then the student moves on to the next one
Last edited by spinoza on Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

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tobes wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:28 am

Sakya Pandita asserts that Marpa did not receive Vajrayogini from Naropa, but I don't he think he doubts that he pretty much received everything else.
I thought (and I can be completely wrong :) ) it was accepted that Marpa received Yogini but it was from the long lineage.
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PeterC
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by PeterC »

Sennin wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:17 pm
tobes wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:28 am

Sakya Pandita asserts that Marpa did not receive Vajrayogini from Naropa, but I don't he think he doubts that he pretty much received everything else.
I thought (and I can be completely wrong :) ) it was accepted that Marpa received Yogini but it was from the long lineage.
I can’t remember the Marpa yogini lineage. It wasn’t from the one that came through the Pamtingpa brothers, which is the main Sakya one
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

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PeterC wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 2:11 pm
Sennin wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 1:17 pm
tobes wrote: Wed Jul 29, 2020 3:28 am

Sakya Pandita asserts that Marpa did not receive Vajrayogini from Naropa, but I don't he think he doubts that he pretty much received everything else.
I thought (and I can be completely wrong :) ) it was accepted that Marpa received Yogini but it was from the long lineage.
I can’t remember the Marpa yogini lineage. It wasn’t from the one that came through the Pamtingpa brothers, which is the main Sakya one
Yes, that's the short lineage. Marpa Lotsawa received the long lineage.

Edit: I believe I have a quote for this claim but can't seem to find it.
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tobes
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

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I think Sarah Harding's WTF paper is really good for showing just how deep this labyrinth goes. In the end, I think the real question is: what is actually at stake in all of this?

Beyond sectarianism, politics etc, I think the answer is: very little.
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PeterC
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

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tobes wrote: Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:06 am I think Sarah Harding's WTF paper is really good for showing just how deep this labyrinth goes. In the end, I think the real question is: what is actually at stake in all of this?

Beyond sectarianism, politics etc, I think the answer is: very little.
I think at the time they were writing, a lot was at stake. Fake lineages and fake termas did exist, and though the polemic literature may be a little...unnecessary at times, arguably it performed a needed quality control function. Though of course that wasn't the only, perhaps wasn't even the main reason for the existence of that literature.

Do we, centuries later, need to worry about it? Well, nobody is going to discover something in a text that suddenly makes people stop practicing a major teaching. But just as we're encouraged to study the guru for years (which nobody does anymore), it can't hurt to read some of this material. And if it does raise doubts in our minds, perhaps that indicates our confidence in the guru is not what it should be, or that we haven't worked hard enough on the practice to see its benefits.
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tobes
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by tobes »

PeterC wrote: Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:26 am
tobes wrote: Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:06 am I think Sarah Harding's WTF paper is really good for showing just how deep this labyrinth goes. In the end, I think the real question is: what is actually at stake in all of this?

Beyond sectarianism, politics etc, I think the answer is: very little.
I think at the time they were writing, a lot was at stake. Fake lineages and fake termas did exist, and though the polemic literature may be a little...unnecessary at times, arguably it performed a needed quality control function. Though of course that wasn't the only, perhaps wasn't even the main reason for the existence of that literature.

Do we, centuries later, need to worry about it? Well, nobody is going to discover something in a text that suddenly makes people stop practicing a major teaching. But just as we're encouraged to study the guru for years (which nobody does anymore), it can't hurt to read some of this material. And if it does raise doubts in our minds, perhaps that indicates our confidence in the guru is not what it should be, or that we haven't worked hard enough on the practice to see its benefits.
As to your first point: sure. It's great to see excellent scholarship where it exists in different periods of Tibetan Buddhism. There have been some incredibly refined minds at work producing that.

As to the second: I think many, if not most of us struggle a great deal with being attached to our particular gurus, lineages etc, and so falling into various forms of sectarianism. These sorts of threads/discussions are usually 95% an expression of this.
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by Malcolm »

PeterC wrote: Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:26 am
tobes wrote: Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:06 am I think Sarah Harding's WTF paper is really good for showing just how deep this labyrinth goes. In the end, I think the real question is: what is actually at stake in all of this?

Beyond sectarianism, politics etc, I think the answer is: very little.
I think at the time they were writing, a lot was at stake. Fake lineages and fake termas did exist, and though the polemic literature may be a little...unnecessary at times, arguably it performed a needed quality control function. Though of course that wasn't the only, perhaps wasn't even the main reason for the existence of that literature.

Do we, centuries later, need to worry about it? Well, nobody is going to discover something in a text that suddenly makes people stop practicing a major teaching. But just as we're encouraged to study the guru for years (which nobody does anymore), it can't hurt to read some of this material. And if it does raise doubts in our minds, perhaps that indicates our confidence in the guru is not what it should be, or that we haven't worked hard enough on the practice to see its benefits.
Everyone should read Sapan’s three vows and his Clarifying the Muni’s Intent, even if it pisses them off. He raises excellent questions, and was an amazing scholar and practitioner. He was also the product of a particular era in Tibetan history, and it shows.
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by PeterC »

Malcolm wrote: Fri Aug 07, 2020 12:19 pm
Everyone should read Sapan’s three vows and his Clarifying the Muni’s Intent, even if it pisses them off. He raises excellent questions, and was an amazing scholar and practitioner. He was also the product of a particular era in Tibetan history, and it shows.
I found it very difficult to disagree with his arguments in Three Vows, even the ones I didn’t agree with.
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Re: Dagpo Kagyu empowerments

Post by spinoza »

Malcolm wrote: Fri Aug 07, 2020 12:19 pm
PeterC wrote: Wed Aug 05, 2020 2:26 am
tobes wrote: Thu Jul 30, 2020 3:06 am I think Sarah Harding's WTF paper is really good for showing just how deep this labyrinth goes. In the end, I think the real question is: what is actually at stake in all of this?

Beyond sectarianism, politics etc, I think the answer is: very little.
I think at the time they were writing, a lot was at stake. Fake lineages and fake termas did exist, and though the polemic literature may be a little...unnecessary at times, arguably it performed a needed quality control function. Though of course that wasn't the only, perhaps wasn't even the main reason for the existence of that literature.

Do we, centuries later, need to worry about it? Well, nobody is going to discover something in a text that suddenly makes people stop practicing a major teaching. But just as we're encouraged to study the guru for years (which nobody does anymore), it can't hurt to read some of this material. And if it does raise doubts in our minds, perhaps that indicates our confidence in the guru is not what it should be, or that we haven't worked hard enough on the practice to see its benefits.
Everyone should read Sapan’s three vows and his Clarifying the Muni’s Intent, even if it pisses them off. He raises excellent questions, and was an amazing scholar and practitioner. He was also the product of a particular era in Tibetan history, and it shows.
Sakya Chokden's commentary on his text defends Kagyu Mahamudra against many of the disputes raised by him.
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