Tilopa – Quotes, Six Words of Advice, Mahamudra updesha

Read about Tilopa’s six words of advice, Mahamudra updesha, quotes and everything you need to know about tilopa and his Teachings.

Who was Tilopa

In the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, Tilopa (Prakrit; Sanskrit: Talika; 988–1069) was an Indian Buddhist monk from the Indian subcontinent.

As a tantric practitioner and mahasiddha, he lived alongside wild women near the Ganges River. For the sake of achieving Buddhahood more quickly, he engaged in Anuttarayoga Tantra, a set of spiritual practises.

One of, if not the, only person in his time to hold all of the tantric lineages. Additionally, he learned and passed on the six yogas of Naropa, or guru yoga, as well as the path of insight and Mahamudra. Naropa is regarded as his most important pupil.

Biography – Life of Tilopa

Tilopa was born in Bengal, India, most likely in Chativavo (Chittagong) or Jagora.

A dakini (female buddha whose role it is to inspire practitioners) gave Tilopa orders to take up the monastic life after he was born into the priestly caste, which some texts claim was a royal family. When she first saw Tilopa, she made it abundantly evident that the people who had reared him were not his true parents, but rather primal wisdom and the universal voidness. Tilopa was advised by the dakini to take the monastic vows and become an eloquent scholar by her. His dakini teacher’s regular visits continued to help him on his quest to enlightenment.

The Guru’s of Tilopa

It was around this time that he began to travel throughout India, where he was able to learn from numerous gurus.

  • Inner heat (Sanskrit: caal, Tib. tummo, inner heat) was something he learned from Saryapa.
  • He got the teachings (Cakrasavara Tantra), Lagusamvara tantra, or Heruka Abhidharma) on radiant light (Sanskrit: prabashvara) and illusory body (Sanskrit: maya deha, Tib. gyulu) from Nagarjuna.
  • from Lawapa, the yogi’s paradise;
  • The teachings on life, death, and the bardo (between living states and consciousness transference) (phowa) come from Sukhasiddhi.
  • He gained wisdom (praja) from Indrabhuti.
  • and the resurrection of the dead corpse, which comes from Matangi.

Tilopa’s Six Words of Advice (Six Nails)

The original Sanskrit or Bengali of Tilopa Teachings – Tilopa’s instruction, the Six Words of Advice, is no longer existent; the text has reached us in Tibetan translation. The lecture is known in Tibetan as gnad kyi gzer drug, which means “six nails of essential points,” which is a suitable title when one considers the meaning of the English idiomatic expression “to hit the nail on the head.”

The text, according to Ken McLeod, has exactly six words; both of the English translations in the table below are credited to him.

No.Short WordsExplanation WordsOriginal Tibetan
1.Don’t recallAllow yourself to let go of the past.mi mno
2.Don’t imagineAllow yourself to be unconcerned with what might happen.mi bsam
3.Don’t thinkLet go of what’s going on right now.mi sems
4.Don’t ExamineDon’t try to figure anything outmi dpyod
5.Don’t ControlDon’t waste your time trying to figure things out.mi sgom
6.RestRelax and rest right now.rang sar bzhag

1. Don’t Recall

It often happens that we want to repeat the pleasure that we have experienced in the last, in the first advice of six words/six nails, tilopa says don’t recall the past experiences.

2. Don’t Imagine

We often imagine about our beautiful future which doesn’t exists and there is no certainty that it will really happen in the future, so tilopa says in his second word that don’t imagine of the false reality, stay in the present.

3. Don’t think

Thinking too much is main obstacles in the path of enlightenment, one must empty his mind from thoughts if one wants to attain liberation or self realisation. That’s why tilopa in his third advice, says, don’t think.

4. Don’t Examine

in the path of enlightenment, it’s necessary for the person to completely empty his mind from the worldly matters, that’s why tilopa in his Forth advice, says, don’t Examine, the world will go on forever.

5. Don’t Control

We want everything to happen according to our expectations and our wills, but that’s not the case with the nature. If we try to control the reality, we would definitely lose eventually that’s why tilopa in his fifth advice, says, don’t control.

6. Rest

This is what every enlightened master says to his disciples, rest completely implies rest to the mind along with the body so that your nature will be in rhythm with the reality that’s why tilopa in his last sixth advice, says, rest.

Tilopa’s six essential points of meditation

Tilopa's Six Words for meditation
  • No thought,
  • No reflection,
  • No analysis, 
  • No cultivation,
  • No intention; 
  • Let it settle itself.

Tilopa Mahamudra Updesha

Tilopa also taught Naropa mahamudra in the song “The Ganges Mahamudra,” which includes the following stanza:

  • In his ignorance, the fool scorns Mahamudra.
  • In the stream of samsara, all he knows is battle.
  • Have empathy for folks who are anxious all of the time!
  • If you’re tired of the constant agony and want to feel better, turn to a master.
  • Because the intellect is released when his blessing hits your heart.

Tilopa Quotes

Tilopa all quotes
Tilopa all Quotes

It is said that one of Tilopa’s most renowned and crucial remarks is: “The problem is not happiness; the problem is attachment.”


Allow yourself to let go of the past. Let go of any fears you may have about the future. Let go of the present moment. Don’t waste your time trying to figure out what’s going on. Nothing will happen if you force it. Rest and relax right now.

Tilopa Quotes

The only thing you should be doing is sitting back and relaxing. Make noise like an echo by remaining silent. Rather than focusing on what you’re thinking about, focus on what you’re actually experiencing. Allow yourself to let go of the reins and come to a complete stop. Without projection, meditation is the ultimate state of consciousness. This is the best way to prepare for enlightenment.

The world’s appearances aren’t the problem; it’s our attachment to them that brings us pain.

If you are obsessed with meditative practises or religious studies, you won’t get to this wonderful realisation, this truth that is natural to awareness because your mind is so focused on reaching a higher level of consciousness that it misses out on the fundamental light that is present in all experience.

Allow it to settle without any consideration, reflection, analysis, cultivation, or intention on your part.

What ties you is not the appearance, but rather your attachment to it..

Realizing that nothing lasts, and that everything is just a dream.

Tilopa Quotes

Let go of the mind’s tangles and relax in a state of utter awareness.

To dispel the accumulated darkness of thousands of years, all it takes is one torch.

As a pond left undisturbed, the pollution of troublesome ideas will be cleared automatically if you can sustain awareness in stages of agitation and meditative equilibrium. Contrary to popular belief, it is not a good idea to regard some mental states as positive and worth developing, while viewing others as negative and in need of removal. The karmic residues and dispositions and all the obscurations will gradually be removed from your mind if you can cultivate this attitude.

Tilopa all Quotes
Tilopa quotes on enlightenment/liberation

When you allow your thoughts to go into a state of total relaxation, you’ll find yourself free.


A wise guru is your best hope for escaping the agony of life’s drudgery. Your thoughts will be freed when the guru’s blessings penetrate your heart. There is no purpose or value in the things of samsara, and they are the root sources of pain. When everything else that has been done or made seems meaningless, focus on what matters.

If you can’t get your mind around an object or a subject, you’ve reached the pinnacle of perspective.
In the absence of any other distractions, it is the most powerful kind of contemplation.
If you don’t put forth any effort, it’s the best way to conduct yourself.
In the end, when there is no hope and no fear, the fruition is achieved or is disclosed.

Tilopa and Naropa

Naropa is the most important disciple of Tilopa who became his successor and passed on the teachings that he had received. The greatest Hindu shrine in Nepal, Pashupatinath, contains the two caves where Tilopa achieved Siddhi and initiated his disciple, Naropa, into enlightenment.

You, Naropa, should make an effort to bring Samsara and Nirvana together. Examine yourself in the mirror of your mind, which reflects eternal joy, and discover the Dakini’s enigmatic lair.

Tilopa to Naropa quote
Tilopa and Naropa

Son Naropa, for interdependent phenomena, I am grateful. You must not remove yourself from the wheels of merit and wisdom until you comprehend that all of these are yet to be born.

Tilopa and Naropa

Self-awareness is at play here! It goes beyond the boundaries of language and thought. There is nothing I can reveal about myself. It is up to you to discover it for yourself.

Tilopa quote to naropa
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