Empowerment, transmission and mudras. What does it all mean?

Hi, some thoughts that have been going on lately. I feel I have begun to understand more how empowerments work, like how something like tantra can be created, happen and why it is “special” in the world of spirituality,compared to other types of practices. Please share thoughts or adjust if I am off on something here, I probably am. I wrote this text another place, and then added some and took away some to make it a separate topic in this forum. Will put some main questions people might wonder about in the beginning though, so to have a common ground, maybe I answer some of with the text or maybe I need correction.

  • What is an empowerment, transmission, mudra, text transmission and so on?
  • How is it different from other spiritual “tools”?
  • What are- and why are there requirments in tantra and not in say sutra?
  • What can be transmitted, like if anything in samsara is equally pure from point of view of Great perfection, it seems to me there is really no end for what a Buddha could transmit to the student as a way for her to practice. Like there are texts, practices and so on, but could it not also be poems, objects (which might be something along as consecrating as is quite common), dances… more?
  • Is it possible for transmissions to be watered down?

The text I wrote + some addings

I can write what I thought though. What I mean is: what is an transmission, deity, text transmission or mudra? Like how is it “created”? It has started to make sense from my experience now, how when you percieve truly that samsara and nirvana are the same, there are innummerable forms. It can be wrath, compassion, peaceful, healing passionate and so forth, there is no end really. This can be called deities and can be transmitted to a sincere student, if it may help him/her. All movements of the master who have reached this realizations are mudras, it can be one simple finger gesture, set if movements, dances or yogapostures, all this can be transmitted as well and the student can train in it and master it. MEANING, mastering nature of mind (thats the crusial point which makes it different from say all other things).
Sounds become mantras and there are texts. All of this require a guru/ a buddha who has realised sameness of samsara and nirvana as well as realized the unity of the three bodies.

​​​​​There are tons of different deities and so on, because in different times people have had different needs, like in Pemako there is much more wrathful deities in say yuthoks medicine lineage of what I am aware. I think almost all deities I have recieved are also in the trad nyigma school, except one I have not heard of. There might be other deities though at one point, but I dont know.

Its also currious how say a mudra essentially is given by transmission, from one who have reached realization like the one I explained, so all mudras or postures done in gyms in the west becomes sort of silly when you think they might all originated from real masters and then watered down untill there is just dust left of what used to be a kingdom originated from realization. Though might have some energetic effect in terms of allignemt as well as health of stretching muscels, its really not the same at all.

Thats the thoughts I had. There also are requirments in lineages, some have different vows and so on, like there are tranmissions I wont get from Kim because then he have different requirments to the student.


Like I can understand and appreciate that there has been strong requirments at times for engaging in tantra. One thing is that the karma that is created between teacher and student is quite strong due to the karma to the common guru (f.ex padmasambhava), which can mean that might will share the path to enlightenment for lifetimes, meaning its clever to be on good terms and vows put the path straight for one who engage in them. So the teacher might want to be sure that he/she doesnt waste time, and the student might want to be sure the teacher is trustworthy for that reson, this is at least how I see it. Another thing, might be for the sake of the student, I dont know what are the traditional vows and requerments for tantric initiation, so wont get into it. But, as in boddhisattva vows, this is as much for the student as for other ones, they are really “clever” so to speak when you get to understand them truly, so have thought similar things about this, but I dont know. If anyone have some knowledge on how it is done traditionally please feel free to share.

Think thats the thoughts I had today :slight_smile:

  • Osk

Some relevant texts:



“The Dzogchen yogin is first a shape-shifter. No outer or inner form expresses his secret nature, which is emptiness, more than any other; no one specific form of practice is correct practice; and no one outer form of conduct can be adopted as a universal method of service to sentient beings over any other. Insofar as each situation demands a different form of response and expression, the Dzogchen yogin is a chameleon. Just as the chameleon naturally and spontaneously changes color as the chemistry of response works in his body, so the yogin changes his mudrā (gesture, posture) and mantra (spoken word) as the bodhicitta of compassion floods his being at the inception of each new human situation in his sense fields. The entire gamut of emotivity, intellectual stance, and social role comprise his wardrobe; he is as much at home in the temple as in a brothel; and his friends may be found as well among thieves as courtiers”.

Dowman, Keith. The Flight of the Garuda: The Dzogchen Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism (p. 20). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.