Four seals

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Four Seals (Wyl. sdom bzhi) or the 'four hallmarks of the Buddha's teachings' (Wyl. lta ba bka' rtags kyi phyag rgya bzhi). They are:

All that is conditioned is impermanent,
All that is tainted is suffering,
Nirvana is peace,
All phenomena are empty and devoid of self.

Significance of the Four Seals

These are said to be the hallmark of the Buddha’s teaching, and it is often said that the mark of a real Buddhist is that he or she accepts these four. Of course, taking refuge is the real entrance to the Buddhist path, and that which serves to distinguish Buddhists from non-buddhists, but in terms of the View, these four statements encapsulate the uniqueness of the Buddha’s teachings and really set the Buddhadharma apart from all other religions and philosophies.


Phillip Stanley has noted that the Four Seals do not appear in the early Tibetan sources on Buddhist terminology, the Mahavyutpatti, Madhyavyutpatti, or Kawa Paltsek's Memoranda on Dharmic Enumerations (chos kyi rnam grangs kyi brjed byang). According to his research the first Tibetan author to mention the Four Seals was Longchen Rabjam in his Treasury of Philosophical Tenets. The scholar Butön mentions three seals, an enumeration that is also to be found in Indian sources, such as Shakyaprabha's Prabhāvatī ('od ldan). Tibetan sources do not [1]


  1. From: D. Phillip Stanley,The Threefold Formal, Practical, and Inclusive Canons of Tibetan Buddhism in the Context of a Pan-Asian Paradigm (Doct.Diss.), University of Virginia, 2009, pp. 149-154

Further Reading

  • Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, What Makes You Not a Buddhist, Shambhala 2007.
  • Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Indisputable Truth, Rangjung Yeshe, 1996.
  • His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dzogchen (Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2000), pages 101-106.
  • Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, The World of Tibetan Buddhism (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1995), pages 37-39.
  • Mipham Rinpoche, Gateway to Knowledge Vol. 4, Rangjung Yeshe (forthcoming)