The Mahamudra Tradition encompasses many key Buddhist terms and presents them in a unique light. The Sanskrit word mahamudra literally translates as “great seal,” or “great symbol,” which suggests that all that exists in the conditioned world is stamped with the same seal – the seal of ultimate reality.
Ultimate reality is synonymous with the quintessential Buddhist term emptiness (shunyata), which describes the insubstantiality of all things – the underlying groundlessness, spaciousness, and indeterminacy that imbues all of our experiences of the subjective and objective world.
In the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, the word mahamudra is also used to refer to the nature of the mind. The nature of the mind is a pivotal concept in this tradition. The essential quality of the mind is emptiness, but it is described as a luminous emptiness, for the mind has the inherent capacity to know, or to cognize.
When spiritual fulfillment is attained, this luminous emptiness is experienced as pervasively and profoundly blissful, and enlightenment is characterized as luminous bliss.
Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche
from the book Mind at Ease: Self-Liberation through Mahamudra Meditation
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