Four Stakes to Bind the Life-Force

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Four Stakes to Bind the Life-force (srog sdom gzer bzhi)

These four stakes are a key principle in the tantric practices of the Nyingma tradition. Though they are most often taught in the context of development stage, they are said to subsume all aspects of the view, meditation and conduct of the Vajrayana. The source for these teachings is the Tantra of the Perfect Secret (gsang ba yongs rdzogs).


  • As Tenpé Nyima explains, these four stakes subsume all aspects of Tantric practice: “All of the key points of the Vajrayāna path of Secret Mantra are included in these four.” [KR 59] Explaining further, Khenpo Ngaga writes, “It is traditionally said that these four stakes bring together our own ordinary body, speech, mind and actions with the enlightened form, speech, mind and activities of the wisdom deity. They are like stakes that bind these together…In other words, these key instructions on the four stakes that bind the life-force purify the three gates and actions, which seem to obscure from the perspective of the way things appear. Consequently, enlightened form, speech, mind and activities—the way things really are—actually manifest. This is why these four are necessary.” [ST 29] [CJD]