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Mahāsiddha Stories for Inspiration

Please take a few moments before you begin this teaching to settle yourself. Sit upright, yet naturally relaxed. Before listening to and/ or reading the teaching make aspirations such as: "I am extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to listen to the precious Dharma. I am doing this for the benefit of all sentient beings so that they may be free from suffering and attain complete awakening".

Mahāsiddha stories may inspire us throughout our practice of the Buddhist path because we hear how people from all walks of life, and all types of background became accomplished masters.  And often their path to enter Dharma practice comes about through strange or unusual circumstances.  In this video teaching, Phakchok Rinpoche shares just a few of his favorite stories.


Mahāsiddha Stories Contain Important Lessons.

Mahāsiddha stories are fun to read, but we can also understand that the stories are also teachings. One key point is that we never know who can become a great practitioner.  In the Mahāsiddha stories we hear about hunters and thieves, lazy aristocrats, housewives and beggars. Rinpoche gives the example of the famous siddha Saraha, who received wisdom from the “Radish Soup ḍākinī “–we can understand from this story that wisdom can come in surprising messages!  And we don’t always know who will teach us, so we should remain open-minded.


Mahāsiddha stories
Mahāsiddha Saraha

The details of their stories can be found in various texts.  The most popular collection  was compiled by Abhayadatta Sri in the 11th-12 century, and has translated into English as The Legends of the Eighty-four Mahāsiddhas–  Tibetan  (grub thob brgyad bcu tsa bzh’i lo rgyus) .  There are other lists of mahāsiddhas, however, so we should not think that the number was restricted to 84.

Mahāsiddha Stories: Unconventional Behavior

Many of these characters seem to behave in bizarre ways.  Yet, what does this teach us about judging outer appearances?  Each of these people reaches accomplishment after following a teacher’s specific advice. And often their practice looks very simple and does not involve lots of philosophical study or intellectual understanding.  Yet, because these people were ripe for teachings, they all made very swift progress on the path.  We can understand from these stories that devotion and absolute confidence in the teacher’s instructions made it possible for these individuals to attain accomplishment very swiftly.

Mahāsiddha Stories
Mekhalā one of 
the Headless Sisters



Mahāsiddha Stories Are About Transformation

Mahāsiddha stories remind us that no matter who we are, or what misdeeds we have committed in the past, we have the opportunity to transform.  And not only to change, but to make dramatic progress and demonstrate true realization. We can also take away the lesson that transformation comes about in many ways–that there is no one single method that applies to all beings.


At the end of the teaching, please remember to dedicate the merit of receiving a Dharma teaching. As you go through your day, take a few moments from time to time to recall these instructions.

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November 27, 2018

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