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In the previous post about Karma Pakshi, I wrote somethign slightly biographical. I want to avoid that when I can, and stick to texts written by the Karmapas, when I can find them. So, with the Third Karmapa, this is much easier. He wrote a lot, I believe, and his compositions are also famous, widely available and practiced.

Rangjung Dorje wrote the Mahamudra Aspiration, and Distinguishing Consciousness from Wisdom. Here is the former:


Aspirations for Mahamudra

Namo guru.

Gurus and yidams, deities of the mandala,
Buddhas of the three times and ten directions and your children,
Consider me with kindness.
Grant your blessing that all my wishes be realized.

Sprung from the snow-mountain of the pure actions and intentions--
Mind and those of all sentient beings without limit--
May the river of virtue undefiled by the three spheres
flow into the ocean of the four bodies of Buddha.

As long as I have not realized this,
Through all my life times, birth after birth,
May not even the words for defilement and suffering be heard,
And may I enjoy the prosperity of oceans of happiness and virtue.

Having obtained this excellent, free, and well-favored life,
Along with faith, energy, and intelligence,
Having attended a worthy master and received the pith of the sacred instructions,
May I practice the sacred Dharma properly in all my lives without interruption.

The study of scriptures frees one from the veil of ignorance.
The contemplation of oral instructions overcomes the darkness of doubt.
Light born of meditation illuminates the way things are.
May the radiance of the three wisdoms increase.

The significance of the ground is the two truths, 
free from the extremes of eternalism and nihilism.
The excellent path, the two accumulations,
free from the extremes of assumption and denial.
The result obtained is the two benefits,
free from the extremes of existence and peace.
May I meet the Dharma, which is free from error.

The ground of refinement is mind itself--indivisible luminosity and emptiness:
the refining--the great vajra composure of Mahamudra:
What is to be refined--the incidental stains of confusion:
The result of refining--the unstained Dharmakaya: may I realize it.

Confidence in outlook is cutting assumptions about the ground.
The key to meditation is maintaining that without distraction.
The supreme activity is to exercise the sense of meditation in everything.
May I have confidence in outlook, meditation and activity.

All Dharmas are projections of the mind,
As for mind, there is no mind; mind's nature is empty.
Empty and immediate, mind appears as everything.
Investigating it well, may I settle the basic points.

Appearances, which never existed in themselves, have been confused as objects;
Awareness itself, because of ignorance, has been confused as a self;
Through the power of dualistic fixation I wander in the realm of existence.
May ignorance and confusion be completely resolved.

It doesn't exist; even Buddhas do not see it.
It doesn't NOT exist; it is the origin of Samsara and Nirvana.
No contradiction; conjunction, the middle way.
May I realize the pure being of mind, free from extremes.

If one says, "It is this," nothing has been posited.
If one says, "It is not this," nothing has been denied.
Unconditioned pure being transcends intellect.
May I gain conviction in the ultimate position.

Not realizing it, one circles in the ocean of Samsara.
Realizing it, Buddha isn't anywhere else.
"It is everything," "It isn't anything"; none of this.
May pure being, the basis of everything, be realized.

Since appearance is mind and emptiness is mind,
Since realization is mind and delusion is mind,
Since arising is mind and cessation is mind,
May all assumptions about mind be eliminated.

Unpolluted by meditation with intellectual efforts,
Undisturbed by the winds of everyday affairs,
Not manipulating, knowing how to let what is true be itself,
May I become skilled in this practice of mind and maintain it.

The waves of subtle and coarse thoughts calm down in their own ground.
Motionless, the river of mind abides naturally.
Free from the contaminations of dullness and torpor,
May I establish the still ocean of shamatha.

When one looks again and again at the mind which cannot be looked at,
And sees vividly for what it is, the meaning of not seeing,
Doubts about the meaning of "is" and "is not" are resolved.
Without confusion, may my own face know itself.

Looking at objects, there is no object; one sees mind.
Looking at mind, there is no mind; it is empty of nature.
Looking at both of these, dualistic clinging subsides on its own.
May I realize sheer clarity, the way mind is.

Free from mental constructions, it is called Mahamudra.
Free from extremes, it is called Madhyamika.
Everything complete here, it is also called Maha Ati.
May I attain the confidence that, it understanding one, all are realized.

The great bliss of nonattachment is continuous.
Sheer clarity without fixations is free of obscurations.
Passing beyond intellect, non-thought is naturally present. May these experiences continually arise without effort.

Attachment to good and fixation on experience subside on their own.
Confusion and evil concepts are cleared away in the realm of ultimate nature.
In the ordinary mind, there is no rejection or acceptance to separation or attainment.
May I realize the truth of pure being, complete simplicity.

While the nature of beings has always been full enlightenment,
Not realizing this, they wander in endless Samsara.
For the boundless suffering of sentient beings
May overwhelming compassion be born in my being.

While such compassion is active and immediate,
In the moment of compassion, its essential emptiness if nakedly clear.
This conjunction is the undeviating supreme path; 
Inseparable from it, may I meditate day and night.

From the power of meditation come eyes and actual knowledge.
Sentient beings are ripened and domains of enlightenment refined.
Aspirations for the realization of all aspects of Buddhahood are fulfilled.
May I complete these three -- fulfillment, ripening, and refinement --
And become a Buddha.

By the compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions
And the power of whatever pure virtue there may be,
May my wishes and those of all beings be fulfilled.

(courtesy of

And here is a link to the Nalanda Translation Committee version:



The Second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi, is a mysterious figure. At least based on a little internet research, which is how I’m doing most of this blog, there’s little to nothing of his writings available online. I think one of the works he’s most well known for is a guru yoga practice. This, and maybe another practice he composed, are available for sale online. You can buy them, and you’ll get a Tibetan sadhana, with English translation, and you can do it, if you like. As far as non-practice texts, though, I haven’t been able to find anything on this teacher, who from all accounts was powerful and significant to the lineage.
When people write about Karma Pakshi, they often say he was a siddha. This means he was an extremely accomplished person, not just a great meditator, but a great meditator who was capable of doing extraordinary things as evidence of that. Of course, he was also the Second Karmapa, the reincarnation of the First. So, he was the first reincarnated Karmapa, if that makes sense.

Most of what I know about Karma Pakshi is from Trungpa Rinpoche‘s writings, and most of that in the context of the Sadhana of Mahamudra. The latter is a practice received by Trungpa Rinpoche in Bhutan in the late 1960’s. It combines the practice of Karma Pakshi (Kagyu) and Dorje Trollo (Nyingma). Interestingly, I read a transcript of a talk by a more recent teacher about Karma Pakshi in which he referred to him as being Dorje Trollo, so this line of thought was not entirely Trungpa Rinpoche’s inspiration, I think. Dorje Trollo is the form of Guru Rinpoche associated with, among other things I’d guess, crazy wisdom, and conquering or working with chaotic situations. Both figures seem to be associated with powerful energy, and energy that is not entirely peaceful or comforting. Having done the Sadhana of Mahamudra, the energy you tend to encounter is not violent, or discomfiting exactly, but it’s intense at times, and not the same as something like, say shamatha, or a peaceful deity.

Dorje Trollo was the eighth of Padmasambhava’s eight aspects. He’s connected with bringing the dharma to Tibet fully, and overcoming obstacles to the dharma. Whenever the teachings go to a new place, there are obstacles on various levels, and so, of course, there are lots of ways to deal with these.
Often, the protectors are associated with this kind of action, I think, but in this case, Dorje Trollo is.

Karma Pakshi became the teacher of the Chinese emperor. Said emperor put him through various kinds of trials, and what sound like tortures, actually, but Karma Pakshi wasn’t harmed by them. So, again, he was a siddhi. He could deal with being burned, hung by his beard, tortured, and so on. In turn, I read that the emperor, after becoming a student of this Karmapa, became a great meditator.

Trungpa Rinpoche writes that Karma Pakshi “posessed power over phenomena.” So I think that’s one definition of a siddha. Not just a great meditator, but one so great that he or she actually has power over the elements. Trungpa also said of the Second Karmapa “his basic qualities were fearlessness and abruptness; his actions were unpredictable.” So the idea of crazy wisdom is relevant.


Here is a link to a series of talks by Ringu Tulku, on dohas by the First Karmapa. There is video, audio, and there is a transcript available as well.



The Kagyu lineage is especially rich in a genre of Dharma texts known as “Dharma for the Community,” or tsog chö, which record the oral discourses lamas gave to large assemblies of their students. Such discourses were an important means whereby Kagyu masters such as Dusum Khyenpa cared for his communities of disciples. These texts also allow us in later generations to connect as disciples with earlier lamas, even after they have passed. The following is excerpted from Dusum Khyenpa’s Dharma for the Community. 

In all the discourses spoken by the completely enlightened Buddha Shakyamuni, there is nothing whatsoever that was not spoken as a means of taming the mind. It is extremely important to counsel and watch your own mind.In the beginning, it is important to settle the unsettled mind. In the middle, it is important to settle it stably.  In the end, the personal instructions for enhancing that stability are important.

Through the wisdom that comes from learning, you must recognize your afflictions. Through the wisdom that comes from reflecting, you must control your afflictions. Through the wisdom that comes from meditating, you must get rid of your afflictions from their root.

It is not enough to have received personal instructions. Putting them into practice is extremely important. It all boils down to this: when you are lying on your last bed, drinking your last drop of water, surrounded by your relatives, and drawing your last shallow breath, you need to go from light to light, and from happiness to happiness, and to have the yidams and dakinis accompanying you.

It is important that, from now on, we ourselves brush the snow off our own coat sleeves.

Adapted from the book Karmapa: 900 Years.
Published in 2010 by the Karmapa 900 Organizing Committee.- This has been borrowed from the website. This is a teaching from the first Karmapa, Tusum Khyempa. I’ll be posting teachings by the Karmapas on this site.


Also, here’s a link to the bio of Tusum Khyenpa, also from the Karmapa900 website.


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