The second volume in an historic and noteworthy 6-volume series containing many of the first English translations of the classic mahamudra literature compiled by the Seventh Karmapa as well as extensive commentary that brilliantly unravels enigmas and clarifies cryptic verses.
Sounds of Innate Freedom: The Indian Texts of Mahamudra are historic volumes containing many of the first English translations of classic mahamudra literature. The texts and songs in these volumes constitute the large compendium called The Indian Texts of the Mahamudra of Definitive Meaning, compiled by the Seventh Karmapa, Chötra Gyatso (1456–1539). The collection offers a brilliant window into the richness of the vast ocean of Indian mahamudra texts cherished in all Tibetan lineages, particularly in the Kagyü tradition, giving us a clear view of the sources of one of the world’s great contemplative traditions.
Besides the individual dohas (couplets), vajragitis (vajra songs), and caryagitis (conduct songs) in this second volume in publication, the three extensive commentaries it contains brilliantly unravel enigmas and bring clarity not only to the specific songs they comment on but to many other, often cryptic, songs of realization in this collection. These expressive songs of the inexpressible offer readers a feast of profound and powerful pith instructions uttered by numerous male and female mahasiddhas, yogis, and dakinis, often in the context of ritual ganacakras and initially kept in their secret treasury. Displaying a vast range of themes, styles, and metaphors, they all point to the single true nature of the mind—mahamudra—in inspiring ways and from different angles, using a dazzling array of skillful means to penetrate the sole vital point of buddhahood being found nowhere but within our own mind. Reading and singing these songs of mystical wonder, bliss, and ecstatic freedom, and contemplating their meaning, will open doors to spiritual experience for us today just as it has for countless practitioners in the past.
Karl Brunnhölzl, MD, PhD, was originally trained as a physician. He received his systematic training in Tibetan language and Buddhist philosophy and practice at the Marpa Institute for Translators, founded by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, as well as the Nitartha Institute, founded by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche. Since 1989 he has been a translator and interpreter from Tibetan and English. He is a senior teacher and translator in the Nalandabodhi community of Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche, as well as at Nitartha Institute. He is the author and translator of numerous texts, including most recently A Lullaby to Awaken the Heart (2018) and Luminous Melodies: Essential Dohas of Indian Mahamudra (2019).
“I am delighted by the publication of this thoughtfully compiled collection of classic Mahamudra literature. It is wonderful that these ancient songs of realization, in all their profundity and beauty, are now accessible to modern English readers everywhere.”
– —His Eminence the Twelfth Zurmang Gharwang Rinpoche
“It’s said that by knowing the one thing, one knows all things. Mahamudra, the one Great Seal, has led to infinite expressions. It’s a wondrous thing that the Buddha spoke at all, that the Indian mahasiddhas sang, that the Tibetan masters commented, and that Karl Brunnhölzl understands. If you read this book, you may find that one expression that brings it all home to you.”
– —Sarah Harding, author of Four Tibetan Lineages
“The Seventh Karmapa of Tibet’s Indian Texts of Mahamudra is the largest anthology ever compiled of the foundational works on the Great Seal, which is the quintessential Indian and Tibetan approach to contemplating, realizing, and expressing the true nature of the mind. Composed by the charismatic Buddhist tantric adepts of medieval India, these songs, treatises, and commentaries have profoundly shaped Buddhism in Tibet for the past thousand years, and Mahamudra nowadays is taught and practiced throughout the world. Sounds of Innate Freedom, Karl Brunnhölzl’s six-volume translation of the Karmapa's collection is, quite simply, one of the great Buddhist scholarly projects of our time. Informed by Brunnhölzl’s extraordinary erudition and linguistic gifts, these volumes promise to be the definitive sourcebook of South Asian works on the Great Seal, and will be required reading for scholars and practitioners of Buddhism everywhere.”
– —Roger R. Jackson, author of Mind Seeing Mind: Mahamudra and the Geluk Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism