Sadhana of Mahamudra Liturgy
The Sadhana as Terma
Sherab Chödzin remembers asking Rinpoche for some years whether we could call The Sadhana of Mahamudra terma, a hidden treasure teaching. He always replied, “No, you can’t.” At the 1983 Seminary, Sherab again asked Rinpoche to allow us to call the text terma. For the first time, he said okay. This happened just before a translation meeting, and so we were able to verify this with Rinpoche during the meeting. We learned that the Vidyadhara considered this text to be gongter, or “mind terma,” and he gave his approval for printing terma marks in future editions.
During his North American visit in 1982, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche asked the Vidyadhara to compose an abhisheka text for The Sadhana of Mahamudra. Though the Vidyadhara was honored and visibly excited by this request, he never accomplished this during his life. After his parinirvana in 1987, when His Holiness was teaching in North America, we requested him to compose the abhisheka. He accepted, explaining that the relationship between Trungpa Rinpoche and him was very special: whatever Trungpa Rinpoche did not finish, His Holiness would, and whatever His Holiness did not finish, Trungpa Rinpoche would.
His Holiness completed the abhisheka text in 1988 at Shechen Monastery in Nepal. When he conferred the full abhisheka on the Sakyong, he used different chöpöns for different sections, so that only the Sakyong received the entire empowerment, and therefore was the sole lineage holder. After several years and upon the Sakyong’s completion of a retreat on the sadhana, His Holiness authorized the Sakyong to confer the abhisheka, which he did for all tantrikas for the first time in 1993 at several of our major centers, and later at most Vajrayana Seminaries.
In the summer of 1990, at the request of the Sakyong, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche also composed a feast offering for the sadhana, entitled Bestowing the Supreme Wisdom of Great Bliss. In general, this feast practice is restricted to tantrikas. However, when we practice this to celebrate the parinirvana of the Vidyadhara on April 4th each year, it is open to everyone.
Some thirty years ago, members of the Translation Committee began studying The Sadhana of Mahamudra in Tibetan. We discovered some subtle and important dharma contained in the Tibetan that was not always conveyed in the Vidyadhara’s more poetic English translation. We asked the Vidyadhara if he would read the text with us, with a view to retranslating the sadhana. He agreed, and so we prepared a first draft, working closely with Lama Ugyen Shenpen. At the 1983 Vajra-dhatu Seminary, we had a meeting with the Vidyadhara for the first and only time on this text, during which we were only able to retranslate the first few pages.
Our translation of The Sadhana of Mahamudra was first published in 1990. It should be regarded as an unpolished, literal rendering of the text, accompanied by annotations, which is mostly the result of our work with Lama Ugyen. It is meant as a tool for enhancing our appreciation and understanding of the Vidyadhara’s work, not as a liturgy to be practiced on its own. This translation has been included in our recent publication, The Sadhana of Mahamudra: Resources for Study.
Twenty-five years after the great mahasiddha Chökyi Gyatso physically departed this world, the powerful message of The Sadhana of Mahamudra still resounds as the fearless proclamation of truth. Ego—drunk with spiritual pride, seduced by passion, and bloated with worldly concerns—cannot withstand the vivid display of awake mind. The raw experience of being human contains in itself the realization of fully awakened mind: the crazy wisdom form of Dorje Trolö-Karma Pakshi.