The name Maitripa was given to the College (originally Maitripa Institute) by Lama Zopa Rinpoche, the founder (with Lama Thubten Yeshe) and Spiritual Director of FPMT.
Maitripa, whose name means “He Whose Protection Is Lovingkindness,” lived in the 11th century. He was the guru of the famed saint Marpa the Translator, and counted the eminent Naropa among his contemporaries and teachers. Maitripa spent time at Nalanda during the time of the great Atisha, and at Vikramashila University at the height of its fame in India.
Maitripa was renowned as a great scholar and yogin, but was eventually expelled from the monastic community of Vikrasmashila when his yogic practice began to cause confusion among the monks. He continued his practice as a mahasiddha, and is particularly famed for his transmission of the mahamudra teachings and his teaching of the Uttaratantra Shastra. Maitripa was also well known for his spontaneous songs of spiritual realization.
Maitripa’s Essential Mahamudra Verses
To innermost bliss, I pay homage!
Were I to explain Mahamudra, I would say—
All phenomena? Your own mind!
If you look outside for meaning, you’ll get confused.
Phenomena are like a dream, empty of true nature,
And mind is merely the flux of awareness,
No self nature: just energy flow.
No true nature: just like the sky.
All phenomena are alike, sky-like.
That’s Mahamudra, as we call it.
It doesn’t have an identity to show;
For that reason, the nature of mind
Is itself the very state of Mahamudra
(Which is not made up, and does not change).
If you realize this basic reality
You recognize all that comes up, all that goes on, as Mahamudra,
The all-pervading dharma-body.
Rest in the true nature, free of fabrication.
Meditate without searching for dharma-body—
It is devoid of thought.
If your mind searches, your meditation will be confused.
Because it’s like space, or like a magical show,
There is neither meditation or non-meditation,
How could you be separate or inseparable?
That’s how a yogi sees it!
Then, aware of all good and bad stuff as the basic reality
You become liberated.
Neurotic emotions are great awareness,
They’re to a yogi as trees are to a fire—FUEL!
What are notions of going or staying?
Or, for that matter, “meditating” in solitude?
If you don’t get this,
You free yourself only on the surface.
But if you do get it, what can ever fetter you?
Abide in an undistracted state.
Trying to adjust body and mind won’t produce meditation.
Trying to apply techniques won’t produce meditation either.
See, nothing is ultimately established.
Know what appears to have no intrinsic nature.
Appearances perceived: reality’s realm, self-liberated.
Thought that perceives: spacious awareness, self-liberated.
Like a wide stream flowing non-stop,
Whatever the phase, it has meaning
And is forever the awakened state—
Great bliss without samsaric reference.
All phenomena are empty of intrinsic nature
And the mind that clings to emptiness dissolves in its own ground.
Freedom from conceptual activity
Is the path of all the Buddhas.
I’ve put together these lines
That they may last for aeons to come.
By this virtue, may all beings without exception
Abide in the great state of Mahamudra.
Colophon: This was Maitripa’s Essential Mahamudra Instruction (in Tibetan: Phyag rgya chen po tshig bsdus pa), received from Maitripa himself and translated by the Tibetan translator Marpa Chökyi Lodrö. ©Nicole Riggs 1999 translation into English. Reproduction welcome if not for profit and with full acknowledgement