Mahamudra Meditation Center (MMC) is a Buddhist Dharma study and practice group established at the encouragement
of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche in 1990 to facilitate the study and practice of Mahamudra. Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche is a senior Buddhist monk renowned among Tibetans as one of the foremost teachers of this profound, and yet simple and direct, path of
liberation based on the "mind teachings" of India and Tibet.
Rinpoche summarizes his view on the relevancy of this approach for students of the Dharma in the West in the following:
"In my experience and judgment Mahamudra is especially appropriate and beneficial in this modern age, in particular for
people in the West who are very busy. It is a path that is extremely simple, meaning that it does not require a lot
of preparation or devices, so it can be practiced at any time or in any situation, provided one possesses mindfulness and alertness."
Nowadays, anyone with sincere interest in Mahamudra can begin to study and practice this profound path in reliance upon these oral instructions and the traditional root texts, which at the end of the 20th Century became available through the express wishes of the Gyalwang Karmapa Rigpe Dorje, head of the Karma Kagyu lineage,
and KyabjeThuksey Rinpoche, acting head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. In addition, Chetsang Rinpoche, one of the heads of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, has published teachings on the practice of Mahamudra.
In discussing how a student should approach some of the most advanced practices of Mahamudra and Dzogchen,
Thrangu Rinpoche summarizes the traditional approach utilized in Tibet in a lineage which has flourished for more than one thousand years:
"You need to attempt them again and again until you actually experience them...Once you have gained some experience through actual practice of the instructions found in the text, then go back and study the text again
and see how your experience compares with what you found in the text. Thus, by combining practical experience with the learning you have gained by studying the text, what you learn will actually become useful to you as a practitioner. In this way, the transmission of
instructions has been kept as a lineage of practical experience rather than simply a lineage of transmitted information."
Mahamudra Programs and Resources
Each year, starting in September, we offer a Nine-Month Mahamudra Program suitable both for new and experienced students. For ongoing and/or scheduled events, please see:
To support those interested in Mahamudra or working with Mahamudra study and practice groups, MMC's Meditation Manual is made available at:
An Online Guide to Mahamudra Meditation .
Our program framework is organized into five series:
In addition, a summary of links to MMC Resources is provided
for personal use by students.
The approach emphasized by Rinpoche and utilized by our group is largely based on the view that, in general, it is most helpful that Mahamudra be taught to individuals "as a full system of instruction that they can implement on their own gradually through diligent application." According to our tradition, the texts on Mahamudra by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal and Wangchuk Dorje summarize the ancient key instructions in this regard.
Over the years, Rinpoche has given the oral instructions on each of these texts to help make them more accessible to folks and enable them to proceed with individual study and practice.
- Jewel Ornament of Liberation - The Teachings of Gampopa
- Moonbeams of Mahamudra - The Mahamudra Teachings of Dakpo Tashi Namgyal
- Eliminating the Darkness of Ignorance - The Mahamudra Teachings of Wangchuk Dorje
- Treasury of Basic Space - The Dzogchen Teachings of Longchen Rabjam
- Songs of the Mahasiddhas - Heart Instructions from the Lineage
In early years, our group maintained a library of transcripts of and notes on some of Rinpoche's teachings to support our efforts. These days, many of his Mahamudra and Dharma teachings are
available in a variety of formats (for example, see Namo Buddha Publications, Namse Bangdzo, Amazon.com and DVD's by Vajra Echoes.) In addition, many of the underlying root texts and commentaries have been translated into English and other languages.
These teachings present in great detail the elaborate and pith instructions on Mahamudra, specifically with the purpose of providing them for study and putting them into practice.
For more detail regarding our recommended framework and range of resources for studying Mahamudra, please see:
For a list of program teachers certified by MMC, please see:
MMC's approach to classes is generally "humanistic" in nature (i.e., in the style of the "school of Carl Rogers" based on our founding director's studies in education as well as teacher training at the Nyingma Institute in Berkeley, California), with a teacher facilitating the presentation and discussion of topics and/or guiding the meditations conducted by the participants. An example of a "more traditional formal teaching" by an MMC teacher, please see
sample teaching on maintaining mahamudra practice, in this case, given to students who have completed both the tranquility and the insight meditation series of practices.
Finally, students interested in pursuing a broader range of traditional teachings and/or retreats related to Mahamudra, specifically, or the Buddha Dharma, in general, are referred to Vajra Vidya Retreat Center in Crestone, Colorado for access to qualified teachers and an excellent retreat location.
Since the outset, the Senior Spiritual Advisors of Mahamudra Meditation Center have been:
Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche is the founding Senior Spiritual Advisor of
Mahamudra Meditation Center and provides the primary guidance for our activities (see his official website at rinpoche.com.) Since the start, we have also been strongly supported by Khenchen Könchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche, who has provided us with a wide
range of Dharma teachings and served as a continual source of inspiration.We are extremely fortunate in that we have had the continual guidance of these two leading
abbots of the Karma and Drikung Dakpo Kagyu lineages from 1990 up until the present day. In addition, we have had a strong connection with leading lamas of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage.
Our founding director, Peter Barth (Lama Thapkhay), started his studies of Mahamudra and Tibetan Buddhism in 1970 with emphasis on teachings of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage. In 1974, he studied with Geagen Khyentse in Northern India, who subsequently sent him to Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche, tutor to the 12th Gyalwang Drukpa, for further studies.
It was based on Thuksey Rinpoche's request, that in later years Lama Lobsang Lhalungpa translated "the most important sacred text" of Mahamudra into English, Mahamudra: The Quintessence of Mind and Meditation (by Dakpo Tashi Namgyal, now available in print and as an e-book on Kindle.)
Lama Thapkhay met Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche in 1989 while Rinpoche was giving extensive teachings on this work, for the first time, in the West. After completing a cycle of teachings, Rinpoche noted to him, "Now that it had been translated into English, per the Gyalwang Karmapa Rigpe Dorje's request,
and the corresponding oral instructions have been given, as I have been doing in fulfillment of his wishes, the most important thing is to put it into practice." It was with this in mind that the Mahamudra Meditation Center (MMC) group was established in
Since MMC's inception, our teachers have held a variety of short retreats on commentaries and root texts listed on our framework webpage. Texts which have frequently served as the basis for nine-month programs include:
- Jewel Ornament of Liberation -
- Moonbeams of Mahamudra - Dakpo Tashi
- Clarifying the Natural State -
Dakpo Tashi Namgyal
- Pointing-out the Dharmakaya -
Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje (1556-1603)
- Eliminating the Darkness of
Ignorance - Ninth Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje
- Aspiration of Mahamudra - Third
Karmapa Rangjung Dorje (1284-1339)
Over the years, Rinpoche has often expressed his appreciation to us for cultivating Mahamudra
practice in accordance with his teachings and the lineage. In 2004, we felt fortunate to participate in hosting Rinpoche's visit to San Francisco including his empowerments
and teachings on Mahamudra and Chakrasamvara. In 2005, MMC held the first group Mahamudra retreat at
Vajra Vidya Retreat Center in Crestone, Colorado.
In 2010, shortly after the April 14 earthquake in Tibet which killed so many people and destroyed Thrangu Tashi Chöling, two of our participants offered to make their home available to MMC for some of its practice programs. Subsequently, Rinpoche gave this supportive group the name of Thrangu Chagchen Chögar. It is our hope that Thrangu Chagchen Chögar will be the seed
for lasting efforts "to preserve and maintain teachings and transmissions of Thrangu Rinpoche and his monastaries."
In 2014, we completed our twenty-fifth annual Nine-Month Program on Mahamudra. In addition, for several years now, we have averaged more than one thousand unique visitors
each month to our website and to our center's online meditation manual. Group teachings and resources have always been made available at no cost to students.
Over the years, we have freely provided support to thousands of folks interested in these profound and most geunuine "mind teachings" without requiring membership in a religious organization or donations.
Finally, Affiliated Teachings are sometimes also included in our program schedules. These typically
consist of select programs from our spiritual advisors and/or teachings by Khenpo Jigme and Khenpo Lobsang from Vajra Vidya Retreat Center in Colorado. In addition, students of Nyingma lineage practices of our center are referred to the teachings of
Loppön Jigme Rinpoche. Loppön Rinpoche received the complete Tersar tradition
from H. H. Dudjom Rinpoche, the complete Kama tradition from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and the complete Longchen Nyingthig tradition from Chatral Rinpoche. Since 2005, he has most generously been available to support our members
in their Dharma studies and practice and has also provided a wide range of teachings to Dharma students in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Mahamudra Meditation Center is registered with H.H. Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley at The Official Website of H.H. Gyalwa Karmapa.
In addition, we are listed by The Office of Tibet, New York, The Official Agency of H.H. the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Government in Exile to the Americas at Office of Tibet, New York and
by Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, The North American Seat of H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa, on the Practice Center List.
For Further Information
Please note that we do not have a temple, residential facilities or a residential program.
Regarding the use of meditation and/or prayer for healing, we do not advocate meditation practices and/or prayers in place of conventional healing methods. This view was even espoused by the great Mahamudra teacher Dakpo Tashi Namgyal in the 16th century when he wrote: "Since this human body as the invaluable support
for seeking enlightenment cannot possibly be left to the fate of the live-or-die attitude of ignorant ones, meditators must rely upon the conventional healing methods and relevant practices for curing their ailments."
Please contact Keith (Lama Kunzang) at
you have any further questions or comments. Due to our limited resources, we may not be able to respond to all enquiries.
Go to www.rinpoche.com:
Photos copyrighted by H. Rhine, L. Miracle, and P. Barth
Web art courtesy of L. Miracle