Are Dzodgchen, Mahamudra, and Moksha Essentially the Same?

Namaste. I recently posed this question to someone who I know and love in the Dharma community. He has been a devotee and practitioner since before I was putting words together…

How are Dzodgchen, Mahamudra, and Moksha of Hinduism different? Is there a chance I will understand if you explain it to me?

The answer that he gave me helped on many levels:

Dzogchen is a transmission which goes beyond the teachings of buddhism but is so resonant with Buddhadharma that it is considered the highest among the nine yanas or vehicles of practice in the Nyingma lineage. Long ago in Tibet, there were many Gelugpa fundamentalists who did not recognize Dzogchen as a valid path. Sectarian bullshit. This has changed and there is general acceptance of the Dzogchen teachings by all schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Dzogchen (or Great Perfection) teachings have been embraced and well-amplified by the current Dalai Lama. Dzogchen is closely associated with the Nyingma school and Guru Padmasambhava. There are three major divisions in Dzogchen (or Ati-yoga) known as Mind series, Space series and the Secret Instruction series. Of these three the latter is considered the innermost  – the Mind Section emphasizes luminosity, the Space Section emphasizes emptiness, and the Instruction Section emphasizes their indivisibility.

Mahamudra is considered the highest teaching of the Kagyu and Gelugpa schools. In relation to Dzogchen it is usually identified with the Mind series of teachings. Both are organized around what are known as the four yogas. There is a progression in Mahamudra. Dzogchen realization is what it moves toward. From the perspective of Dzogchen, Mahamudra is a sublime preliminary, associated with the seventh and eighth yanas.

Moksha, as I understand it – is the highest Hindu expression of enlightenment. The difference between this and the Buddhist versions such as those approaches named above, is basically, the cultivation of bodhicitta. In practical terms, moksha represents an initial liberation from the drama of the ego-illusion, a radical awakening to non-dual truth, very similar to what is realized by sravakas who mature into arhats. According to the Nyingmas, this realization would be classified within the first two yanas. The short version of the Mahayana critique of the lower vehicles is that the wisdom element is emphasized at the expense of compassion.

I hope this is helpful. Don’t hesitate to ask if there’s anything i can help further clarify.


A Friend

I am blessed to have someone that I can turn to when I need, and I feel like I am always in need…

Midnight Moksha

The crescendo, a calamity of sound and light, deafening and silent as it rose into the air above his head.  Rays of azure light shot out of the mist as it began to accelerate, higher than the tree tops now, moving in to the clear air, powered only by his thoughts of freedom.  Drops of plasma, pure, super-heated liquidized energy, shot out of the cloud in every direction and immediately began to fall back toward Earth.  Moving faster and faster now his thoughts become expansive, the ‘him’ thins into nothingness as the ‘I am’ becomes all.

His body, still sitting beneath the trees, lit only by his small dhuni fire, rests peacefully in sublime consideration for the all that he has realized.


Cause and Effect, I guess that best describes my understanding of Karma. My actions, whether good intentioned or bad, create ripples on the stream in which I exist. I am not naive enough to think that doing good things with bad intentions is the same thing as good action with good intention. Nor do I think that causing harm necessarily is creating bad karma for myself either. If I came upon someone about to create harm and tragedy, I would take action to stop that. Walking away would surely create more bad karma than trying to stop the person. If I can make a difference, then I should.

How much of my life today is happening because of my past? All of it. At least in this lifetime, all of it. I can see the correlation between my place in life and the decisions I made along the journey, clearly.

Can I still run ten miles a day? No, I stopped running even before I was out of the military. Cause and Effect.

But in the larger scale, how am I effected? I try to be a good person, I fall well short of that mark most of the time, to my mind. But I do try. I know when I do wrong. When I am selfish, when I am careless with someone’s heart or feelings, when I am cruel. I am actually cruel an awful lot. For some reason my sense of humor is a cruel one. My natural state is making snide remarks at the expense of others. I know it was wrong, even as I am laughing, I know.

But how far back does that go? Was I cruel beyond compare in a past life? Was I a saint, was I a beggar who simply handed his food to an orphan, and so in doing purchased a bit of good karma as it were?

How is Karmic Law dispensed? Does God sit upon a throne and ladle out honey or vinegar based upon my actions? I can not imagine this scenario. Creator of the Universe handing out verdicts based upon my actions on a minute-by-minute basis…

To me, Karma must be so tightly woven in to the heart of the Universe that one can not exist with out the other. Karma must be there for the universe to continue, so the Universe itself conforms to the laws of Karma. Sometimes I speak like the Universe is alive and sentient itself, and I guess I do sort of think that.

Where will I be in ten years? Will I work on myself for the better, and doing so naturally create good karma for myself and those around me?

I have children now. That gives a person pause too. My actions do not simply shape my karma, for theirs must also be tightly coupled with mine. My good fortune is theirs, right? At least for now. Of course that just makes me wonder how their karma is effecting me as well. My son, was he my best friend in a past life? My boss, my brother, my adversary? The implications run so deep.

Okay, that is quite enough for today.