Study notes

Malas (Tantric Psychology)

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Malas (Tantric Psychology)

In non-dualist Tantric “psychology” Malas are flaws in our (innate) nature of understanding, not in the nature of our (liberated) being, or even True Nature (Dzogchen).

Malas are more subtle than cognitive stories, narratives or conceptualizations. They appear as sub-conscious convictions that shape cognitive narratives. They exist on a pre-cognitive level (prior to thought - prashanti)

Anava Mala - Base, Path, Fruit

I am not good enough. I am incomplete. There is something missing. I am not perfect.

  • the Anava Mala may be understood as the root cause of (self-)doubt that produces such stories on a pre-cognitive level. The Buddha said that we create our own suffering (within). However, the self-doubting reflexion is an effect of not being in touch with one’s own True Nature (essence).
  • in this context the ancient Delphic aphorism “Know thyself” from the Temple of Apollo may be a good motto to emphasize that the cause of this doubt can dissolve with expanding insightful self-knowledge. When we misidentify with superficial layers of our being (like the gross body-mind) it may feel like something is wrong. – Not on an ontological level on the True Nature, but still to a crucial extent.
    This feeling can lead to searching for something outside ourselves to take advantage of it and install it in order to become complete. The flaw of this is artfully conveyed in the mosaic: non-permanence and Death. The installments may not last and may not be as “timelessly” liberating as they may seem for the moment.

The cutting or dissolution of Anava Mala may be part of the Path. Practitioners may have idealistic values that indicate a liberated state free from attachments caused by the Anava Mala. In reality, one’s Actions may not yet be in sync with these ideals. The synchronization with the ideals can reshape one’s Vision of reality from a subconscious level; as it can be articulated in a modern language.

In the terminology of the Dzogchen teachings, the Vision is the Base that centers the practitioners on the Path to dissolve the Anava Mala as the root cause rather than getting lost in the endless labyrinth of Samsara by trying to find illusory installments for fake self-completion. The Fruit is the Great Liberation from the “illusions”; which may cause the sub-conscious to self-unfold suffering from a pre-cognitive or even subtly trans-personal level.

Mayiya Mala - Base, Path, Fruit

Our Mayiya Mala is often associated with the ignorant conception of an Ego that introduces the concept of a subject (me) and an object (not-me). – Even though the contemporary understanding of the Central Nervous System points into the direction that we grasp our environment via the five human senses in the form of synaptic impulses (consequently it is all energy) ignorantly we may be in the perspective of Mayiya Mala: everything except “/me” is an object.

– It could be that no one else exists and that we are just in the computer simulation of The Matrix.

The Ego as a daemon - Macig Labdrön Chöd

The Tibetan Yogin Macig Labdrön identified the Ego as a daemon when she was about 12 years old[1]. In this sense, Prajnaparamita means “beyond the intellect”. Experientially realizing the state of Prajnaparamita can be associated with the dissolution of the Mayiya Mala.

The Three Malas describe the condition of human bondage. The Ego can create obstacles on the Path, but it is also relevant in order to act.

Prajnaparamita - Gyaan makes humble

Gyaan is everything itself-this moon, stars, constellations, flower, grass, river, water, mountain, rain, autumn, spring—anything at all, any bird, any sound, any fragrance, all the things, any color, this light too which is falling on me now. (Kaulantak Nath)

Gyaan is not something in particular. It is everything in itself and whatever exists in the cosmos.

if it enters into ‘your’ cosmos, then it is called ‘gyaan’ itself—to ‘utar jaana’ [i.e. to descend down as in knowledge descending down to someone] is said to be ‘gyaan’

For an ocean to receive the river the ocean must be lower.

Karma Mala

Karma Mala is the egoic idea that there are good and bad Actions, which we are classifying as such by a subjective (or impure) Vision. This vision can give rise to judgment from individual subjective perspectives in the form: “what I do is better”.


  1. Chögyal Namkhai Norbu - Chöd - Shang Shung Edition - 2007 ↩︎