Ma-gcig Lab-sgron (c. 1055–c. 1149)

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Ma-gcig Lab-sgron (c. 1055–c. 1149)

Eminent Tibetan Buddhist master who codified the Gcod ("cutting") practice . Name variations: Magcig Labsgron. Born in Labphyi, Tibet, possibly in 1055; died in 1149; taught by Skyo-ston Bsod-nams Bla-ma and Grwa-pa Mngon-shes; children: (with an Indian Tantric yogin) five; her son or grandson, Thod-smyon Bsam-grub, was an accomplished mediator.

The most eminent female Buddhist master in Tibetan history, Ma-gcig Lab-sgron professed that she gave up all regard for personal appearance and social convention to become a Gcod practitioner. Nevertheless, when she ran off with an Indian Tantric yogin, she was vilified as "the nun who had repudiated her vows." It is believed that she lived in Kong-po for many years, and gave birth to five children before leaving her family to study with the famed Indian teacher of the Zhi-byed tradition, Pha Dam-pa Sangsrgyas. She then retired to Mt. Zangs-ri Mkhardmar, living in retreat for the rest of her life.

Ma-gcig Lab-sgron also wrote a treatise on the Gcod meditational practice, which is comprised of indigenous pre-Buddhist ideas and the Prajnaparamita and Mahamudra doctrines she studied with Pha Dam-pa. In the treatise, she described setting up a tent in a haunted area, contemplating emptiness, and offering up (in visualization) her flesh and bones to the demons, whereby she attained transcendence and power. Ma-gcig Lab-sgron had many disciples, including her son or grandson, whom she purportedly cured of epilepsy. Tibetans still practice Gcod and Ma-gcig Lab-sgron remains a source of inspiration for new liturgies and lineages.