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Mahāmudrā (Tib., Phyag.rgya.chen.po, ‘Great Symbol’). Principal religious and philosophical teaching of the Kagyü school (appearing also in Gelugpa, see GELUK) of Tibetan Buddhism. Obtained by Marpa Lotsawa from the 11th-cent. yogins Maitrīpa and Nāropa, Mahāmudrā has two aspects—sūtra and tantra. The sūtra aspects contain the teachings that the ultimate nature of reality is coincident wisdom and luminosity, bliss and emptiness (śūnyatā), while the tantra aspects concern the active realization of this truth through spiritual practices. As a teaching, Mahāmudrā falls in the zhen dong perspective of Tibetan thought, and is related also to dzogchen, especially in the realization of the three kayas (trikāya).

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