Template:Wylie box Semde (Wylie: Sems-sde; Sanskrit: cittavarga) translated as "mind division", "mind series" or "mind school" 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[1] 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.[2] (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: Tantras belonging to the Mind Division include:

  1. Rigpa'i Khuchug (Cuckoo of Presence)
  2. Tsalchen Trugpa (Great Potency)
  3. Khyungchen Dingwa (Great Garuda in Flight)
  4. Dola Serzhun (Refining Gold from Ore)
  5. Minubpa'i Gyaltshen Dorje Sempa Namkhache (The Victory Banner that Does Not Wane - Total Space of Vajrasattva)
  6. Tsemo Chung-gyal (Supreme Peak)
  7. Namkha'i Gyalpo (King of Space)
  8. Dewa Thrulkod (Jewel-Encrusted Bliss Ornament)
  9. Dzogpa Chiching (All-Encompassing Perfection)
  10. Changchub Semtig (Essence of Bodhicitta)
  11. Dewa Rabjam (Infinite Bliss)
  12. Sog-gi Khorlo (Wheel of Life)
  13. Thigle Trugpa (Six Spheres)
  14. Dzogpa Chichod (All-Penetrating Perfection)
  15. Yidzhin Norbu (Wish-Fulfilling Jewel)
  16. Kundu Rigpa (All-unifying Pure Presence)
  17. Jetsun Tampa (Supreme Lord)
  18. Gonpa Tontrub (The Realization of the True Meaning of Meditation)
  19. Kulayarāja Tantra (Tib. Kunjed Gyalpo) (The All-Creating King)
  20. Medchung Gyalpo (Wonderous King)
  21. Dochu (The Ten Concluding Teachings)

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[3] (Tib. naljor, wylie: rnal ’byor), called shinay (Sanskrit: shamatha, "calm abiding," wylie: zhi gnas), lhagthong (Skt: viphashyana, "clear seeing," wylie: lhag mthong), nyimed ("nonduality," wylie: gnyis med, Sanskrit: advaya[4]), and lhundrub ("spontaneous presence," wylie: lhun grub, Sanskrit: anābogha or nirābogha[5]). These parallel the Four Yogas of Mahamudra.


  1. accessed: 1 February 2007
  2. Germano, David (2005). The Funerary Transformation of the Great Perfection (Rdzogs chen). JIATS, no. 1 (October 2005): 12. Source: [1] (accessed: January 15, 2008) p.12
  3. [2]
  4. Unbounded Wholeness by Anne C. Klein, Tenzin Wangyal. ISBN: 0195178491 pg 349)
  5. Unbounded Wholeness by Anne C. Klein, Tenzin Wangyal. ISBN: 0195178491 pg 357, 359


  • "The Practice of Dzogchen", Tulku Thondup, Harold Talbott editors, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca NY, 1989. ISBN 1-55939-054-9
  • "The Supreme Source: The Fundamental Tantra of the Dzogchen Semde, Kunjed Gyalpo", Namkhai Norbu and Adriano Clemente, Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca NY, 1999, ISBN 1-55939-120-0

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