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Yogis and their practices in Tibetan history play an important role in spreading the word of Buddha. Early Buddhism incorporated meditative absorption states. The most ancient sustained expression of yogic ideas is found in the early sermons of the Buddha. One key innovative teaching of the Buddha was that meditative absorption must be combined with liberating cognition. The difference between the Buddha's teaching and the yoga presented in early Brahminic texts is striking. Meditative states alone are not an end, for according to the Buddha, even the highest meditative state is not liberating. Instead of attaining a complete cessation of thought, some sort of mental activity must take place: a liberating cognition, based on the practice of mindful awareness.
The Buddha also departed from earlier yogic thought in discarding the early Brahminic notion of liberation at death. Liberation for the Brahminic yogin was thought to be the realization at death of a nondual meditative state anticipated in life. In fact, old Brahminic metaphors for the liberation at death of the yogic adept ("becoming cool", "going out") were given a new meaning by the Buddha; their point of reference became the sage who is liberated in life.