Semde (Tibetan: སེམས་སྡེ, Wylie: sems sde; Sanskrit: cittavarga) translated as 'mind division', 'mind class' or 'mind series' is the name of one of three scriptural and lineage divisions within Atiyoga, Dzogchen or the Great Perfection which is itself the pinnacle of the ninefold division of practice according to the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.

Part of the Dzogchen text The cuckoo of awareness, from Dunhuang.

Semde emphasizes the clarity (gsal-ba) or the innate awareness (rig-pa) aspect of the Natural State.

Due to the different approaches of various Dzogchen lineages, three series have developed of which semde is one. The other two divisions or series are Longdé (Space Series) and Menngagde (Instruction Series). The Mind Series is attributed to Sri Singha and Vairotsana's lineage


The 'Three Series of Dzogchen' (rdzogs chen sde gsum) are a traditional Tibetan Buddhist classification which divides the teachings of the Nyingma school's Dzogchen tradition into three series, divisions or sections. These three are: the Semde ('Mind Series'), the Longdé ('Space Series') and the Menngagde ('Instruction Series'). Traditional accounts of the Nyingma school attribute this schema to the Indian master Mañjuśrīmitra (c. 8th century).[1] According to Namkhai Norbu, the three series are three modes of presenting and introducing the state of Dzogchen. Norbu states that Mennagde is a more direct form of introduction, Longde is closely associated with symbolic forms of introducing Dzogchen and Semde is more focused on oral forms of introduction.[2]

According to Instruction Series texts, the Mind Series is based on understanding that one's own mind is the basis of all appearances and that this basis, called mind itself, is empty and luminous.[3] Germano writes that the Mind Series serves as a classification for the earlier texts and forms of Dzogchen "prior to the development of the Seminal Heart movements" which focused on meditations based on tantric understandings of bodhicitta (byang chub kyi sems).[4] This referred to the ultimate nature of the mind, which is empty (stong pa), luminous ('od gsal ba), and pure.[5]

As the Mind Series is related to the first statement of Garab Dorje, Semde texts emphasize the direct introduction method of esoteric transmission, directly introducing the student to nature of mind, including pointing-out instruction of this state and methods for recognizing it.[citation needed]


The mind class (semde) of Dzogchen was also said to comprise eighteen tantras, although the formulation eventually came to include slightly more. Tantras belonging to the Mind Division include:[citation needed]

  1. Cuckoo of Spiritual Awareness (Tibetan: རིག་པའི་ཁུ་བྱུག, Wylie: rig pa'i khu byug), Sanskrit: svasti śrī vidyā kokila
  2. Great Potency (Tibetan: རྩལ་ཆེན་སྤྲུག་པ, Wylie: rtsal chen sprug pa), Sanskrit: bodhicitta mahā puṣṭi tantra
  3. Great Garuda in Flight (Tibetan: ཁྱུང་ཆེན་ལྡིང་བ, Wylie: khyung chen lding ba)
  4. Refining Gold from Ore (Tibetan: རྡོ་ལ་གསེར་ཞུན, Wylie: rdo la gser zhun)
  5. Great Space Never-Waning Banner Scripture (Tibetan: མི་ནུབ་རྒྱལ་མཚན་ནམ་མཁའ་ ནམ་མཁའ་ཆེ་, Wylie: mi nub rgyal mtshan nam mkha' che)
  6. Spontaneous Summit Scripture (Tibetan: རྩེ་མོ་བྱུང་རྒྱལ, Wylie: rtse mo byung rgyal)
  7. King of Space (Tibetan: རྣམ་ མཁའི་རྒྱལ་ རྒྱལ་པོ, Wylie: rnam mkha'i rgyal po)
  8. Jewel-Encrusted Bliss Ornament (Tibetan: བདེ་བ་འཕྲུལ་བཀོད, Wylie: bde ba 'phrul bkod)
  9. All-Encompassing Perfection (Tibetan: རྫོགས་པ་སྤྱི་ཆིངས, Wylie: rdzogs pa spyi chings)
  10. Essence of Bodhicitta (Tibetan: བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་ཏིག, Wylie: byang chub sems tig)
  11. Infinite Bliss (Tibetan: བདེ་བ་རབ་འབྱམས, Wylie: bde ba rab 'byams)
  12. Wheel of Life (Tibetan: སྲོག་གི་འཁོར་ལ, Wylie: srog gi 'khor lo), Sanskrit: āyo cakra
  13. Six Spheres (Wylie: thig le drug pa)
  14. All-Penetrating Perfection (Tibetan: རྫོགས་པ་སྤྱི་སྤྱོད, Wylie: rdzogs pa spyi spyod)
  15. Wish-Fulfilling Jewel (Tibetan: ཡིད་བཞིན་ནོར་བུ, Wylie: yid bzhin nor bu)
  16. All-Unifying Spiritual Awareness (Tibetan: ཀུན་ཏུ་རིག་པ, Wylie: kun tu rig pa)
  17. Supreme Lord (Tibetan: རྗེ་བཙན་དམ་པ་, Wylie: rje btsan dam pa)
  18. The Realization of the True Meaning of Meditation (Tibetan: སྒོམ་པ་དོན་གྲུབ, Wylie: sgom pa don grub)
  19. Kulayarāja Tantra, Sanskrit: sarva dharma mahā sandhi bodhicitta kulaya rāja
  20. The Marvelous Mind of Enlightenment (Tibetan: བྱང་ཆུབ་ཀྱི་སེམས་རྨད་དུ་བྱུང་བ, Wylie: byang chub kyi sems rmad du byung ba)
  21. The Ten Concluding Teachings

Another listing drawn from The Lotus Born is:[6]

  1. All-embodying Jewel Scripture (Wylie: rin chen kun 'dus kyi lung)
  2. All-encompassing Bliss Scripture (Wylie: bde ba rab 'byams kyi lung)
  3. Awareness Cuckoo Scripture (Wylie: rig pa khu byug gi lung)
  4. Epitome of Teachings Scripture (Wylie: bka' lung gi spyi chings)
  5. Great Garuda View Scripture (Wylie: lta ba khyung chen gyi lung)
  6. Great Space King Scripture (Wylie: nam mkha' che rgyal po'i lung)
  7. Great Space Never-Waning Banner Scripture (Wylie: mi nub rgyal mtshan nam mkha' che'i lung)
  8. Great Strength of Awareness Scripture (Wylie: rig pa rtsal chen gyi lung)
  9. Jewel-Studded Bliss Scripture (Wylie: bde ba phra bkod kyi lung), Sanskrit: sukha prakaṭe
  10. Meditation Accomplishment Scripture (Wylie: bsgom don grub pa'i lung)
  11. Nonarising Tilaka Scripture (Wylie: skye med ti la ka'i lung)
  12. Pure Gold on Stone Scripture (Wylie: rdo la gser zhun gyi lung)
  13. Spontaneous Summit Scripture (Wylie: rtse mo byung rgyal gyi lung)
  14. Supreme King Scripture (Wylie: rje btsan dam pa'i lung)
  15. Variegated Great Treasury Scripture (Wylie: sna tshogs gter chen gyi lung)
  16. Wheel of Life Scripture (Wylie: srog gi 'khor lo'i lung)
  17. Wish-fulfilling Jewel Scripture (Wylie: yi bzhin nor bu'i lung)
  18. Wonderful Wisdom Scripture (Wylie: ye shes rmad du byung ba'i lung)

Of these, the first five are the "Five Earlier Translated Tantras", translated by Vairotsana. The next thirteen were translated primarily by Vimalamitra. Of the remaining three, the Kunjed Gyalpo is taken to be the primary or root tantra of the Mind Series.

Four yogasEdit

One feature of the semde system is four yogas (where yoga in Tibetan: རྣལ་འབྱོར་, Wylie: rnal ’byor, THL: näljor). These include:[citation needed]

  • śamatha (Tibetan: ཞི་གནས་, Wylie: zhi gnas, THL: shiné) or 'calm abiding',
  • vipaśyanā (Tibetan: ལྷག་མཐོང་, Wylie: lhag mthong, THL: lhakthong),
  • "unbounded wholeness" (Sanskrit: advaya),[7] and
  • "spontaneous presence" (Sanskrit: anābhoga or nirābhoga,[8] Tibetan: ལྷུན་གྲུབ་, Wylie: lhun grub, THL: lhündrub).

These parallel the Four Yogas of Mahamudra.[citation needed]



  1. ^ Dudjom Rinpoche (1991), vol. 1, pp. 493–498.
  2. ^ Norbu (2000), pp. 43–44.
  3. ^ van Schaik (2004b), p. 8.
  4. ^ Germano (1994), p. 288.
  5. ^ Buswell & Lopez (2014), p. [page needed].
  6. ^ Tsogyal (2004), p. [page needed].
  7. ^ Klein & Wangyal Rinpoche (2006), p. 349.
  8. ^ Klein & Wangyal Rinpoche (2006), pp. 357, 359.

Works citedEdit

  • Germano, David (October 2005). The Funerary Transformation of the Great Perfection (Rdzogs chen). Journal of the International Association of Tibetan Studies. pp. 1–54.
  • Klein, Anne Carolyn; Wangyal Rinpoche, Geshe Tenzin (2006). Unbounded Wholeness: Dzogchen, Bon, and the Logic of the Nonconceptual. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-517849-1.
  • Tsogyal, Yeshe (2004). The Lotus-born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava. Translated by Erik Pema Kunsang. Hong Kong: Rangjung Yeshe Publications. ISBN 962-7341-55-X.

Further readingEdit

  • Longchenpa, Drimed Odzer; Norbu, Namkhai (1996). Clemente, Adriano; Talbott, Harold (eds.). The Practice of Dzogchen. Translated by John Shane; Tulku Thondup. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications. ISBN 1-55939-054-9.
  • Norbu, Namkhai (1999). Clemente, Adriano (ed.). The Supreme Source: The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde, Kunjed Gyalpo. Translated by Andrew Lukianowicz. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion. ISBN 1-55939-120-0.
  • Norbu, Namkhai (2013). The Marvelous Primordial State: A Fundamental Scripture of Dzogchen Semde, The Mejung Tantra. With Elio Guarisco, Adriano Clemente, Jim Valby. Arcidosso, Italy: Shang Shung Publications. ISBN 978-88-7834-129-6.

External linksEdit