Six Yogas of Naropa

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The Six Yogas (or, more literally, Dharmas) of Naropa (ན་རོ་ཆོས་དྲུག་, Wyl. na ro chos drug), sometimes also referred to simply as the Six Yogas (ཆོས་དྲུག་, Wyl. chos drug), are six sets of teachings and practices which originate from the Indian mahasiddha Naropa. They form the basis of the inner yoga practices of Mahamudra, as practised in the Kagyü and Gelug schools. They are:

  1. Inner heat (Tib. གཏུམ་མོ་, tummo; Wyl. gtum mo) which is the root of the path. For a dzogrim practitioner this meditation on inner heat is like the root of the entire path. Without some experience of tummo practice, it is said, the various experiences (Tib. ཉམས་, nyam) of tsa-lung practice such as bliss, clarity and absence of thought will not arise.
  2. Illusory body (Tib. སྒྱུ་ལུས་, gyu lü; Wyl. sgyu lus) which is the foundation of the path.
  3. Clear light/luminosity (Tib. འོད་གསལ་, ösal; Wyl. 'od gsal) which is the heart-essence of the path.
  4. Then in order to test the strength of, or assess one's progress in, the practice of clear light, there is the dream yoga (རྨི་ལམ་, Wyl. rmi lam).
  5. For those who are unable to complete the practice of clear light because untimely death occurs, there needs to be one who picks them up, just as when one is travelling to a country such as France and one needs to be picked up at the airport. The practice which comes to 'collect' you is the practice of phowa (འཕོ་བ་, Wyl. 'pho ba).
  6. Then, finally, the juncture which bridges the gap between past and future lives and provides a connection with the Zangdokpalri heaven of Guru Rinpoche or the pure realms such as Sukhavati (Tib. བདེ་བ་ཅན་, Dewachen), is the bardo. By applying the bardo teachings a practitioner whose practice isn't particularly great can transform their practice and become a great practitioner.

Further Reading

  • Garma C.C. Chang, The Six Yogas of Naropa, Snow Lion, 1986
  • Glenn Mullin (translator), The Practice of the Six Yogas of Naropa, Snow Lion, 2006, ISBN 978-1559392563