Tilopa was a mahasiddha, a great adept, who likely lived in the region of present-day West Bengal, India, and Bangladesh around the turn of the th century. Little is known about his life, but traditional biographies tell us that he was a cowherd and showed a natural inclination for meditation and mystical experiences. Over the course of his life he became a very experienced meditator with a profound understanding of the mind. Like many of the other famed mahasiddhas from the Indian subcontinent, Tilopa was instrumental in creating and reﬁning core spiritual practices that later spread throughout the Himalayan region—the Six Nails teaching, also known as Tilopa’s Six Words of Advice, is one of his best-known instructions:
Tilopa’s Six Nails
Don’t recall. Let go of what has passed.
Don’t imagine. Let go of what may come.
Don’t think. Let go of what is happening now.
Don’t examine. Don’t try to figure anything out.
Don’t control. Don’t try to make anything happen.
Rest. Relax, right now, and rest.
At last Sunday’s practice session our Sangha member, Mark, shared that he keeps a copy of Tilopa’s Six Nails next to his cushion at home. Good advice indeed!