The Teaching of Maha Mudra or Non-Dual Bliss in Buddhism

Even though non-duality or maha mudra is not a spiritual practice like prayer or meditation, it is still a path.

Thoughful woman holding a leaf in the summer

Tibetan Buddhism has a rich tradition of the teaching of non-duality called maha mudra or dzog chen.

Maha mudra or dzog chen are not really spiritual practices in the traditional use of the term but describe more a state of being. It is our natural state – our innermost being that is free of all social conditioning, personal history or of any idea of who and what we usually feel we are.

When we rest in our true nature we feel intensely blissful. It is a joy that often becomes so intense that it can be difficult to bear. The sweetness, rapture or ecstasy is more beautiful and satisfying than even the most intense emotional, sexual or even drug-induced experience can possibly be. At other times the experience feels deeply peaceful and unconditionally loving. It is exactly this intense bliss that accounts for the disappearance of our self-image that we usually hold on to at any price.

As our self-image disappears, we become aware that everything we usually take as our identity has no solid foundation at all. For example, most people believe that their personal ego ends where their body boundary ends. During the experience of non-dual bliss we realise that our mind reaches throughout the universe – that it has no boundary at all. What is even more fascinating, we realise that we have no core, either. The place where we normally feel a sense of solid self has now become empty, blissful space and no amount of searching reveals any sense of personal ego. All we find is glittering space that is intensely joyful.

This joyful, empty space is our true nature


It is the same in every being and everything that exists has arisen from this space like rainbows arise from ‘nothing’. Someone who is deeply stabilised in the experience of non-duality does not deny that they themselves and other beings exist. But they recognise these appearances for what they are:  illusory and temporary appearances that arise from our true blissful nature and invariably disappear into it again. 

When this insight deepens, often ‘super-natural’ powers arise spontaneously like clairvoyance, spiritual healing or even levitation.

Even though non-duality or maha mudra is not a spiritual practice like prayer or meditation, it is still a path. It is a path in the sense that it takes time and determination to stabilise the experience of non-duality and let go over and over again from all illusions. It is these illusions that keep us locked within our conditioned sense of self that is vulnerable to deprivation and domination.

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