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Six Dharmas of Nāropa

Category: Books sutras and myths

The Six Yogas or more correctly Dharmas of Nāropa (Tibetan -  Narö chö druk, na-ro'i-chos-drug) are a set of advanced Tibetan Buddhist tantric practices and a ‘meditation sādhana’ compiled in and around the time of the Indian monk and mystic Nāropa (1016-1100 CE) and conveyed to his student Marpa the translator. The six yogas were intended in part to help in the attainment of ‘siddhi’ [nirvana and then annihilation] in an accelerated manner.  The six Dharmas are a synthesis or collection of the completion stage practices of several tantras.

The six dharmas

The six dharmas generally conform to the following conceptual list (Tibetan Wylie transliteration and Sanskrit in parentheses):

  • tummo (T: གཏུམ་མོ་ gtum-mo, S: caṇḍālī) — the yoga of inner heat (or mystic heat).
  • gyulü (T: སྒྱུ་ལུས sgyu-lus, S: māyākāyā) — the yoga of the illusory body.
  • ösel (T: འོད་གསལ་ 'od-gsal, S: prabhāsvara) — the yoga of the clear light or radiant light.

The next three are considered the main practices of the completion stage (T: dzog-rim, S: saṃpanna-krama) in the anuttara yoga tantra.

  • milam (T: རྨི་ལམ་ rmi-lam, S: svapnadarśana) — the yoga of the dream state.
  • bardo (T: བར་དོ bar-do, S: antarābhava) — the yoga of the intermediate state. This is well-known through the Bardo Thödöl. Bardo yoga as the yoga of liminality may include aspects of gyulu and milam and is therefore to be engaged as an extension of these disciplines.
  • phowa (T: འཕོ་བ་ 'pho-ba, S: saṃkrānti) — the yoga of the transference of consciousness to a pure Buddhafield.

I originally considered making the descriptions for these common steps, but by doing this I would have lost the text and the sense of how they are used in the yogas, thus I have made them into observations using a translation I found on the sacred texts site.

Prologue

With great respect I bow down to the Lotus-Feet of the revered gurus who are identical with the great Vajra Dhara.
I prostrate myself in front of His supreme Body, Mouth and Mind!
I bow down to my guru and his omnipresent miraculous powers!
He who grants all wishes (of ours),
He who possesses all the merits and virtues,
He who is the mighty master, the embodiment of Vajra Dhara!
To him, the mighty lord of eight merits, I render my obeisance,
Gathering all the quintessence of the profound Tantras.
The accomplished masters Deropa and Naropa, through their lineage, handed down this teaching!
It is known as the Six Yogas of Naropa,
It is the teaching heard in all directions!
Following its path, the hard-working and well-gifted disciples
Are led to the plane of the saviours!
Through a careful and continuous study
Of the teachings by the successive gurus in the lineage,
I now elucidate for you the way to liberation!


 

References

The text in the observations comes from

  • THE SIX YOGAS OF NAROPA [IN TSONG-KHA-PA'S COMMENTARY] - ENTERING THE PROFOUND PATH THROUGH THE SUCCESSIVE TEACHING OF The Six Yogas of Naropa, WHICH IS NAMED The Book of the Three Faiths  [In the text, the translator's use of Naropa, Milarepa and Dumo have not been corrected to  Nāropā, Milaraspa and Gtum-mo, “since the loose orthography in such instances does no severe violence to the actual pronunciation. Similar instances were treated likewise. Ed”].

Additional useful commentary can also be found in

  • Esoteric Teachings of the Tibetan Tantra, by C.A. Musés, [1961]

Observations

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