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Samaya (Skt.; Tib. དམ་ཚིག་, damtsik, Wyl. dam tshig) — the vajrayana commitments taken when receiving empowerment.


There are several ways of explaining [the] literal meaning [of damtsik]. To make this very simple, dam means sublime, and tsik is a statement. Thus samaya is a statement that is true, genuine, pure, real. To apply oneself in a way that is in harmony with how the truth is, is called keeping the samaya. When the samayas are described in detail, there are hundreds of thousands that can be listed, but all of them can be condensed in this way.

The foremost samaya is when you compose yourself in a state in which you in actuality experience the fact that all sights, sound and awareness are visible emptiness, audible emptiness and aware emptiness. To have that certainty is called keeping all the hundreds of thousands of samayas.[1]

Categories and Subdivisions

Khenpo Ngakchung writes:
"In the Mantrayana, you should make promises not to transgress

and, in the Great Perfection,

About the Dzogchen samayas, he further writes: "In [...] Dzogchen, for those practitioners whose realization develops gradually, for whom there is something to be kept, there are twenty-seven root samayas to be observed with respect to the teacher's body, speech, and mind, and twenty-five branch samayas; for those practitioners of sudden realization for whom there is nothing to be kept, there are the four samayas of non-existence, omnipresence, unity, and spontaneous presence."[3]

Alternative Translations

  • word of honour (Light of Berotsana)

Alternative Translations for the Four Samayas in Dzogchen

2. pervasiveness, (Erik Pema Kunsang)

3. oneness (Erik Pema Kunsang)


  1. Empowerment & Samaya, Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche from Dzogchen Essentials: The Path That Clarifies Confusion compiled by Marcia Binder Schmidt (Rangjung Yeshe Publications), pages 55-56.
  2. Khenpo Ngakchung, Zindri (Shambhala, 2004), page 231.
  3. Khenpo Ngakchung, Zindri (Shambhala, 2004), page 51.

Teachings Given to the Rigpa Sangha

Further Reading

  • Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse, Not for Happiness, pages 148-150.
  • Longchen Yeshe Dorje, Kangyur Rinpoche and Jigme Lingpa, Treasury of Precious Qualities Book Two (Boston & London: Shambhala, 2013), 'Samaya, the favorable condition for progress on the path', pages 179-229.
  • Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, Vol. Two, translated by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1999), Chapter 17 'Samayas'.
  • Tulku Thondup, Enlightened Journey: Buddhist Practice as Daily Life (Boston: Shambhala, 1995), 'The Empowerments and Precepts of Esoteric Training', pages 106-133.
  • Tulku Urgyen, As It Is Vol.2, pages 136-138 (Rangjung Yeshe, 2000) ISBN 962-7341-39-8

External Links