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Song of the Seven Essentials, by Chöjé Marpa Sheyrab Yéshey

Song of the Seven Essentials (gces pa bdun gyi mgur)
by Chöjé Marpa Sheyrab Yéshey (smar-pa shes-rab ye-shes, 1135–1203)
Translated from the Tibetan by Erick Tsiknopoulos


When the precious human life is attained,
Practicing the precious Transcendent Dharma is essential.
When the precious instructions are obtained,
Staying in hermitage at isolated places is essential.

For persons with few antidotes,
The instruction on mindfulness of ripened effects is essential.
If the mind is not humbled even after getting old,
The instruction on counting numbers of years is essential.

For great fixation on Saṃsāra,
The instruction on cutting off the dynamic energy of Saṃsāra is essential.
For the arising of anger in the mind-stream,
The instruction on mindfulness of generating Awakened Mind (bodhicitta) is essential.

For attachment to wealth and companions,
The instruction on the powerlessness of friends is essential.
The vagabond priest, Sheyrab Yéshey,
Took up these seven essentials in melody.

(Translated from the Tibetan by Erick Tsiknopoulos, March 2016.

Found in the collection of poems, songs and other writings by Marpa Sheyrab Yéshey, chos-rgyal smar-pa’i mgur-‘bum legs-par bzhugs so, published by the Martsang Kagyu Global Corporation, Taipei/Delhi 2015, pages 150-151)


“persons with few antidotes” (gnyen po chung ba): someone who does not employ countermeasures and remedies to their delusions and negative actions

“ripened effects” (rnam min): the ripened results of karma

“counting numbers of years” (lo grangs brtsis pa): could refer to counting the number of years of one’s age or counting the number of years one has left to live, or possibly both.

“cutting off the dynamic energy of Saṃsāra” (‘khor ba rtsal gcod): must mean ‘khor ba’i rtsal gcod (pa). The word for ‘dynamic energy’, rtsal, can also mean, depending on the context, expressive power, creative power, resourcefulness, display, creativity, agility, manifestation, strength, acrobatics, artistry, craft, external energy, skill, function, existential dynamics, potency, external projection, reflection, dexterity, prowess, adroitness, manifestative power, stunt, exterior manifestation of energy, reflective capacity, objectifying energy of potentiality of manifestation, the capacity of energy to project itself externally (just as a crystal illuminated by a ray of light has the capacity to project infinite rainbow colored rays around itself), etc.

“the powerlessness of friends” (grogs dbang med pa): the inability of friends to help one at the time of death

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Erick Tsiknopoulos View All

Erick Tsiknopoulos (b. 1981) is an American translator of Tibetan, a scholar, researcher and postgraduate student in Buddhist Studies, a teacher and tutor of Tibetan language, a writer and editor, a voracious reader in various subjects, and an experienced world traveler. He is the founder and primary Tibetan translator of the Sugatagarbha Translation Group, and the creator of their main website,, which currently features English translations of over 400 Tibetan texts. Many of his translations have been published in various forms, including as books.

He has been a student of Buddhism since 1999, a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 2003, and a student of Tibetan language since 2005. He has been translating Tibetan texts into English since 2007, has been based in India and Nepal studying Tibetan language and Buddhism intensively and translating Tibetan texts since 2008, and has been working professionally as a Tibetan-English translator and interpreter since 2009.

He is available for contact via email at: and

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