Mind category

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Mind category (Tib. སེམས་སྡེ་, Semdé, Wyl. sems sde) — one of the three categories into which Mañjushrimitra divided the Dzogchen teachings he received from Garab Dorje.

The root tantra of Semdé is The All-Creating King Tantra (Kunjé Gyalpo).


Khenpo Namdrol says:

"Looking first at the outer category of mind—when the Semdé teachings were translated in Tibet, the Land of Snows, eighteen ‘mother’ and ‘child’ texts of the mind class were identified, although the Semdé tantras can also be counted as numbering twenty-one. These eighteen ‘mother’ and ‘child’ texts of Semdé consist of the first five to be translated, which were translated by Vairotsana, and given the name the ‘Five Earlier Translations’, plus the thirteen texts translated by his disciple Yudra Nyingpo, known as the ‘Thirteen Later Translations of Semdé’. When the ‘Three Major Tantras’ of Semdé are then added, that makes a total of twenty-one.
Vairotsana received the cycle of Semdé from the master Shri Singha, and then transmitted it to the great Dharma king Trisong Detsen, Yudra Nyingpo, and others, as a result of which it spread throughout Tibet."


Main Texts (Tantras)

‘Five Earlier Translations’, translated by Vairotsana:

  • The Cuckoo of Awareness (Rig pa’i khu byug)
  • Great Potency (rTsal chen sprugs pa)
  • The Great Soaring Garuḍa (Khyung chen lding ba)
  • Meditation on the Enlightened Mind (Byang chub sems bsgom pa)
  • The Never Declining Banner of the Great Sky (Mi nub rgyal mtshan)

‘Thirteen Later Translations', translated by Yudra Nyingpo:

  • The Supreme Lord (rJe btsan dam pa)
  • The Wish-fulfilling Gem (Yid bzhin nor bu)
  • The Victorious Emergence of the Peak (rTse mo byung rgyal)
  • The Inlaid Jewels of Bliss (bDe ba 'phra bkod)
  • The King of the Sky (Nam mkha' rgyal po)
  • The Wheel of Life (Srog gi 'khor lo)
  • The Epitome (sPyi ‘chings)
  • The Infinity of Bliss (bDe 'byams)
  • The Quintessential King (Yang tig rgyal po)
  • The Marvelous (rMad du byung ba)
  • The Six Spheres (Thig le drug pa)
  • The Accomplishment of Meditation (bsGom don grub pa)
  • The Compendium (Kun 'dus)
  • The Universally Definitive Perfection (rDzogs pa spyi spyod)
  • The Small Hidden Grain (sBas pa’i rgum chung)

Later tantras:

  • The All-Creating King Tantra (kun byed rgyal po): this text incorporates most of the earlier eighteen tantras mentioned above as its own chapters.
  • The Ten Sutras (mDo bcu)

Other Texts

Further Reading

  • Philippe Cornu, Dictionnaire encyclopédique du bouddhisme (Paris: Éditions du Seuil, 2001), page 518-520
  • Manuel Lopez, The “Twenty or Eighteen” Texts of the Mind Series: Scripture, Transmission, and the Idea of Canon in the Early Great Perfection Literature in Revue d'Études Tibétaines, Number 43, Janvier 2018 - Etudes rDzogs chen — Volume I