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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.

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

Penor Rinpoche states that due to the different approaches of various Dzogchen lineages, three sub-schools have developed of which semde is one.

The other two divisions or schools are Longde (Space Series) and Menngagde (Oral Instruction Series).

The Mind School is attributed to Sri Singha and Vairotsana's lineage


These three divisions were introduced by the Buddhist scholar Manjushrimitra.

As Great Perfection texts, the texts of all three divisions are concerned with the basic primordial state, the nature of mind-itself (which is contrasted with normal conscious mind).

They are related to the 'Three statements of Prahevajra.

It is important to note that the three series do not represent different schools of Dzogchen practice as much as different approaches to the same goal, that being the basic, natural, and primordial state.

As is common throughout much Buddhist literature, Tibetan Buddhism in particular, gradations in the faculties of practitioners are also ascribed to the three divisions, they being seen as appropriate for practitioners of low, middling, and high faculties, respectively.

Germano (2005: p.12) states that:

The earliest revelations of the Great Perfection are those said to have been disseminated in Tibet in the latter half of the eighth century, and which retroactively were classified as the Mind Series to distinguish them from later developments.

They begin with a collection of quite short texts known as The Eighteen Texts of the Mind Series (Sems sde bco brgyad), and then subsequently proliferate into a large family of texts spawned by the original collection’s expansion, modification, and so forth, culminating in a series of texts centered on The All-Creating King (Kun byed rgyal po).

Most of the resultant sub-divisions of the Mind Series rubric have names based upon geographical regions, clans, or individual founders. Padmasambhava (eighth century) does not figure prominently – if at all – in these early Great Perfection traditions; rather, Śrīsiṁha (eighth century),

Dga’ rab rdo rje (seventh century?), and Vimalamitra (eighth-ninth century) are the main Indian figures cited as involved in their authorship, redaction, transmission, and translation. (NB: original text not meta-enhanced.)

Distinguishing Features of the Mind Division

Texts of the Mind Division emphasize that the totality of phenomena that present themselves to us are nothing more than apparitions or projections of the mind.

As the Mind Division is related to the first statement of Prahevajra, Semde texts emphasize the direct introduction to the natural state of mind, including explanations of this state and methods for recognizing it.

Texts of the Mind Division

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:

1. 'Cuckoo of Presence' or Rigpa'i Khuchug (Tibetan: རིག་པའི་ཁུ་བྱུག, Wylie: rig pa'i khu byug)
2. 'Great Potency' or Tsalchen Trugpa (Tibetan: རྩལ་ཆེན་སྤྲུག་པ, Wylie: rtsal chen sprug pa)
3. 'Great Garuda in Flight' or Khyungchen Dingwa (Tibetan: ཁྱུང་ཆེན་ལྡིང་བ, Wylie: khyung chen lding ba)
4. 'Refining Gold from Ore' or Dola Serzhun (Tibetan: རྡོ་ལ་གསེར་ཞུན, Wylie: rdo la gser zhun)

5. Minubpa'i Gyaltshen Dorje Sempa Namkhache (The Victory Banner that Does Not Wane - Total Space of Vajrasattva) ::(Tibetan: མི་ནུབ་རྒྱལ་མཚན་ནམ་མཁའ་ནམ་མཁའ་ཆེ་ , Wylie: mi nub rgyal mtshan nam mkha' che)

6. Tsemo Chung-gyal (Supreme Peak) (Tibetan: རྩེ་མོ་བྱུང་རྒྱལ, Wylie: rtse mo byung rgyal)
7. Namkha'i Gyalpo (King of Space) (Tibetan: རྣམ་ མཁའི་རྒྱལ་ རྒྱལ་པོ, Wylie: rnam mkha'i rgyal po)
8. Dewa Thrulkod (Jewel-Encrusted Bliss Ornament) (Tibetan: བདེ་བ་འཕྲུལ་བཀོད, Wylie: bde ba 'phrul bkod)
9. Dzogpa Chiching (All-Encompassing Perfection) (Tibetan: རྫོགས་པ་སྤྱི་ཆིངས, Wylie: rdzogs pa spyi chings)
10. Changchub Semtig (Essence of Bodhicitta) (Tibetan: བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་ཏིག, Wylie: byang chub sems tig)
11. Dewa Rabjam (Infinite Bliss) (Tibetan: བདེ་བ་རབ་འབྱམས, Wylie: bde ba rab 'byams)
12. Sog-gi Khorlo (Wheel of Life) (Tibetan: སྲོག་གི་འཁོར་ལ, Wylie: srog gi 'khor lo)
13. Thigle Trugpa (Six Spheres) (Wylie: thig le drug pa)

14. Dzogpa Chichod (All-Penetrating Perfection) (Tibetan: རྫོགས་པ་སྤྱི་སྤྱོད, Wylie: rdzogs pa spyi spyod)
15. Yidzhin Norbu (Wish-Fulfilling Jewel) (Tibetan: ཡིད་བཞིན་ནོར་བུ, Wylie: yid bzhin nor bu)
16. Kundu Rigpa (All-unifying Pure Presence) (Tibetan: ཀུན་ཏུ་རིག་པ, Wylie: kun tu rig pa)
17. Jetsun Tampa (Supreme Lord) (Tibetan: རྗེ་བཙན་དམ་པ, Wylie: rje btsan dam pa)
18. Gonpa Tontrub (The Realization of the True Meaning of Meditation) (Tibetan: སྒོམ་པ་དོན་གྲུབ, Wylie: sgom pa don grub)
19. Kulayarāja Tantra (Tib. Kunjed Gyalpo) (The All-Creating King) ()
20. Medchung Gyalpo (Wonderous King) ()
21. Dochu (The Ten Concluding Teachings) ()

Another listing drawn from The Lotus Born is:

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

One feature of the Semde system is four yogas

(Tib. naljor, wylie: rnal ’byor), called shinay (Sanskrit:

shamatha, "calm abiding," wylie: zhi gnas), lhagthong (Skt: vipaśyanā,

"clear seeing," wylie: lhag mthong), nyimed (Sanskrit:

advaya, "nonduality," wylie: gnyis med), and

lhundrub (Sanskrit: anābogha or nirābogha,"spontaneous presence," wylie: lhun grub ).

These parallel the Four Yogas of Mahamudra.