|Rigdzin Godem||an account of the origin and development of the Byang-gter or Northern Treasures tradition|
|Rigdzin Godem APPENDIX||Five incarnations who upheld the Northern Treasures in Yol-mo, Nepal|
|Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche||Main teacher|
|Tulku Thondup Rinpoche||Tulku Thondup Rinpoche writes about his connection with Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche|
|Martin J. Boord|
an account of the origin and development of the Byang-gter or Northern Treasures tradition
by Martin Boord
revised and expanded version
|Concealment of the treasures|
|In the various biographies of the treasure revealer dNgos-grub rgyal-mtshan (1337-1408) it is said that his dharmakaya form is Samantabhadra and his sambhogakaya form is Vajrasattva. His nirmanakaya career commenced in India, where he manifestated in more than two dozen incarnations before he was born in Tibet in the eighth century of the Common Era as sNa-nam rdo-rje bdud-’joms.|
|At that time, the ruler of Tibet and great Buddhist patron, Khri Srong-lde’u-btsan, sent messengers to India with offerings of powdered gold in order to invite the assistance of Padmasambhava in the founding of bSam-yas monastery, and one of the messengers entrusted with this task was his minister of state (zhang blon) and close companion sNa-nam rdo-rje bdud-’joms. Following his return from India, sNa-nam rdo-rje bdud-’joms became the king’s minister for religious affairs (chos blon) and one of Padmasambhava’s five innermost disciples, remaining close by the guru’s side throughout the period of his most intense teaching activity. As a result of practising the many esoteric instructions imparted to him, sNa-nam rdo-rje bdud-’joms became master of mind and breath. Skilled in the accomplishment of Vajrakila, he attained unsurpassed awakening which he demonstrated by such feats as passing through solid rock and travelling great distances in the blink of an eye. Said to be of vital importance for the protection of the future descendants of king Khri Srong-lde’u-btsan, the teachings received by sNa-nam rdo-rje bdud-’joms throughout his lifetime were carefully concealed in a cave in the mountains where once Padmasambhava and his retinue had meditated for seven days. Alongside the texts were placed images of Vajrakila and the ten wrathful kings, as well as blessed ritual kila which were stabbed into the rock, and a self-igniting fire. All of this was sealed up by guru Padmasambhava himself who inscribed three symbolic letters on the door to the treasure cave and hid three keys on the mountain summit. Finally he marked the middle of the mountain with 600 jewels obtained from the guardian nagaraja. This mountain, he predicted, was destined to become the abode of buddhahood and its treasure revealed in the future for the benefit of Tibet in general and for the welfare of the royal line in particular.|
In 1173 sNa-nam rdo-rje bdud-’joms was born again in Tibet, this time in Khro-phu, southern Tsang. His
name is variously recorded as Byams-pa-dpal the translator, or as Bal-po A-hum-’bar the tantric yogin.
In this life he revealed some gter ma from their place of concealment in sPa-gro, Bhutan, which were
transmitted by dPal dga’-ba lung-pa. By the time of Kong-sprul blo-gros mtha’-yas these texts had
disappeared, but then ’Jam-dbyangs mkhyen-brtse received an ancient copy from the hands of a dakini and
Kong-sprul was thus able to include them in the Rin chen gter mdzod, together with his own
Rediscovery of the hidden treasures
In 1337, on the tenth day of the first month of the fire ox year, he was reborn in the area known as
gNyan-yul (Place of Snake Demons) or Tho-yor nag-po (Country of the Black Stone Cairn), near mount
bKra-bzang in western gTsang, just north of gCung ri-bo-che. The name he was given in this
incarnation was dNgos-grub rgyal-mtshan (Victory Banner of Spiritual Attainment). The sky was filled
with rainbow light and the air was sweetly scented at the time of his birth. Music was heard and
flowers fell from the heavens. Upon his newborn body were seen many auspicious marks including the
sign of a vajra upon his forehead, the sacred seed-syllable Oπ upon his chest, a conch-like neck
and a pair of black and white moles (sme ba, tilaka) upon the crown of his head.
dNgos-grub rgyal-mtshan’s mother, Jo-lcam bsod-nams khye-’dren, was a virtuous lady of noble descent, daughter of a mantra adept called Do-pa, son of Phug-cha.
dNgos-grub rgyal-mtshan’s father, sLob-dpon bdud-’dul (Sri-’dul-dpal), belonged to the distinguished De-gyin-hor clan whose ancestry was said to trace back to the Mongolian king Gur-ser. His forebear De-gyin deva raja came to Tibet as part of the retinue of the maternal uncle of the Chinese princess Chin-ch’eng, daughter of Shou-li, prince of Yung. Chin-ch’eng was one of the wives of Khri lde-gtsug-brtsan (Mes-ag-tshom), father of Khri Srong-lde’u-brtsan. Upon his arrival in Tibet, De-gyin deva raja became minister of religious offerings (mchod blon) and his family was bequeathed the estate (gzhi kha) of sNa-mo.
sNa-mo-lung-pa sLop-dpon bdud-’dul was also a tantric yogin with expertise in the practice of Mayajala, Matarah and the Phur bu ze’u smug gu, an early cycle of the deity Vajrakila that had been passed down in his family for many generations, and the young dNgos-grub rgyal-mtshan studied these doctrines under his father’s tutelage. He demonstrated remarkable skill in both understanding and practice from a very early age, perfecting the samadhi of Vajrakila by the time he was eight years old. Following the death of his father, he continued to be educated by his mother and then by dPal-chen ’bum-pa, the teacher from Se, and his brother Legs-pa-ba.
When he was just eleven years old, three feathery growths appeared on the top of his head and when he was twenty-three there were five. Because these growths looked like the feathers of a vulture he became famous as rGod kyi ldem-’phru-can, “the one with vulture’s feathers.” These extraordinary signs had been foretold in the prophecies and were regarded with awe as the marks of a truly special being. He also became known as Mahavidyadhara (Rig ’dzin chen po) and this is the title which has been held ever since by each of his successive incarnations.
When he was 25 years of age, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem found the first of the naga jewels left for him as a sign by Padmasambhava on the eastern slope of mount bKra-bzang. It had the form of a hexagonal crystal, about the size of a goose egg, and was discovered in the heart of a globular container, immersed in sweet-tasting fragrant nectar that sparkled like the sun.
During this same period, while the former rDo-rje bdud-’joms was incarnate in the person of Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem, the former lha sras Mu-khri btsan-po (son of king Khri Srong-lde’u-btsan) took birth in southern La-stod as the sprul sku bZang-po grags-pa. Living as a monk in the bKa’-brgyud school, he practised resolutely for many years in retreat until the signs of success were accomplished. With the blessings of guru Padmasambhava, who actually appeared as a yogin and trained him, bZang-po grags-pa unearthed a number of treasure texts, including the famous Seven Chapter Prayer of Padmasambhava (Le’u bdun ma) and the Prayer Which Clears the Path of all Obstacles (gSol ’debs bar chad lam sel). From the temple of Gram-pa-rgyang, built in the seventh century by Srong-btsan sgam-po, he took out rituals of both Hayagriva and Maitreya and then, in 1364 at rGyang yon-po-lung, he discovered several sadhana of Vajrapani, guides to places of pilgrimage, and keys to the discovery of yet more gter ma. Among these texts, eight were related to the concealed treasures of Zang-zang lha-brag, including the Gab pa snying gi lde mig (Key to the Concealed Heart) which specifically mentioned the discovery of the naga jewel on the eastern slope of mount bKra-bzang, and also the essential inventory (snying byang) entitled Man ngag gnas kyi don bdun ma. In the new year (February/ March 1365) bZang-po grags-pa entrusted these texts to sTon-pa bsod-nams dbang-phyug and two companions with instructions to pass them on to “a yogin carrying a statue or rosary in his hand” that supposedly they would encounter to the east of the Zang-zang mountain and who would begin to engage them in a conversation concerning bKra-shis-lde, the ruler of Gung-thang.
A week or so later, as the three travellers were eating their meal on the bank of a stream near Brag-lung monastery in northern gYas-ru, rGod-ldem-can arrived there from sNa-mo-lung carrying in his hands a brass image of Vajrakila and a rosary. As they spoke together, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem lamented the death of Khri bKra-shis-lde and all the requirements of the prophecy were fulfilled. Recognizing him as the one they sought, they handed over the various treasure scrolls together with a letter of good wishes sealed by Padmasambhava himself.
Upon his return to sNa-mo-lung, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem interpreted the rising of the planet Jupiter in the eighth lunar mansion as a sign that the time had come to take out the key to the treasures. At the first crack of dawn on the eighth day of the snake month in the year of the fire horse (1366), there came from the east a beam of white light “like the trunk of the wish-fulfilling kalpalata” that struck the summit of mount bKra-bzang and a spot beneath that was indicated by a light fall of snow. Thus, from the vicinity of three obelisks (rdo ring) within the cavity of a projecting white rock (’dzeng brag dkar po) beneath the summit of Ri-bo bkra-bzang, rGod-ldem-can unearthed the next link in the chain of the Northern Treasures in the form of seven paper scrolls (shog ril). These scrolls were stored in a box of stone, arranged together with others of bronze and copper so as to serve the mountain as its heart, mouth and eye. In order to compensate for the removal of these scrolls, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem buried another treasure in their place, sponsored by the king of Gung-thang, and the resultant cavity known as rLung-gseng (Windy Hollow) is reported to be still in existence today. During the new year celebrations on the following year, as Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem reached the age of thirty, a fruit tree spontaneously grew up there which is also thought to have remained until now.
Two months later, on the fourth day of the sheep month 1366, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem was engaged in the rite of bestowing upon his disciples the abhiseka of Vajrakila. During the preliminary section of the rite, just as he was establishing the mandala of deities within the bodies of his disciples, the guru arose and led his followers up into the mountains that look like a heap of poisonous snakes (dug sbrul spung ’dra). The texts describe the air as sweetly scented and filled with rainbows as Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem guided his disciples to the southwest face of the mountain where the atmosphere glowed with ruby-red light in the splendour of the setting sun. They climbed up to a mountain cave and, leaving two disciples stationed beneath the entrance, rGod-ldem-can went inside and began to pray. As the sky grew dark following the setting of the sun, the rock cave began to tremor and shake as a sign that the master of the treasures (gter bdag) had arrived. At midnight they lit a number of butter-lamps and by their light the group was able to discern upon the rock the clear image of a visvavajra. When the guru pressed beneath that mark with his paper scroll (the symbolic key to the treasures) it seemed to open like a door onto a triangular chamber within which they found a pale blue snake of liquid copper with a yellow belly, as thick as a man’s arm. It was lying in a coil with its face to the southeast upon a square blue stone, the top of which was marked in nine sections with silver coloured nails so that it resembled the back of a tortoise. The coils of the snake looked like an enormous eight-sided precious stone and upon its heart were three gem-like excrescences from which were extracted a roll of paper and a symbolic jewel (rin po che’i rtags tsam cig).
Resting upon the blue stone slab, concealed within the serpent’s coils, lay a maroon leather casket, the five-fold repository of the Northern Treasures.
From the central compartment of deep red leather, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem took out the Kun bzang dgongs pa zang thal cycle in four volumes, said to be the distilled essence of one hundred thousand profound texts of the Great Perfection. This cycle was subsequently to become one of the most famous and revered of all the expositions of atiyoga doctrines in Tibet. From within this central compartment he also took out the teachings of Bla ma rig ’dzin gdung sgrub and other texts related to the sadhana of guru, deva and dakini, together with the atiyoga texts of Vajrakila and three kila wrapped in maroon silk, all of which had been activated by Padmasambhava himself. The first one he had used on the occasion of attaining siddhi in Yang-le-shod in Nepal, the second he was using when he saw the face of Vajrakila at dPal chu-bo-ri, and the third he used to subjugate the enemies and obstructors in sTag-tshang seng-ge bsam-’grub in Bhutan. Also there were thirty paper scrolls wrapped in blue silk, lockets of hair from the heads of Padmasambhava, Khri Srong-lde’u-brtsan, Ye-shes mtsho-rgyal, sNa-nam rdo-rje bdud-’joms and others, as well as sundry additional sacred articles (byin rlabs kyi rdzas).
The front (eastern) compartment of the box was fashioned of white conch shell and contained texts of the rGyu ’bras la ldog pa cycle, putting an end to cause and effect, as well as the dGongs pa nam mkha’ dang mnyam pa’i chos teachings on the similarity of the awakened mind to the sky, and the tantras of the Ka dag rang byung rang shar cycle concerning the natural presence and arising of primordial purity.
The golden southern chamber of the chest contained the sNyen sgrub rnam pa bzhi’i chos teachings on the fourfold practice of deity invocation, and the texts of the gSang sgrub guru drag po rtsal and bKa’ brgyad drag po rang byung rang shar. These important ritual cycles became famous “like the sun and the moon” due to the brightness and clarity that they induced within the minds of those who practised them. Also in this chamber were found texts relating to Vajrakila in his form as Mahottarakila with nine faces and eighteen hands.
From the western compartment of red copper, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem took out the rTen ’brel khyad par can and the Phyi sgrub ’gro ba kun grol which form part of the rTen ’brel chos bdun cycle. He also took out the Tsan dan gyi sdong bu lta bu’i chos and a volume in which were found the rTa mgrin dregs pa dbang sdud, the ’Khor ’das dbang sdud and the Lha chen teachings, as well as a further volume containing the Byang chub sems dpa’i spyod dbang.
Within the black northern compartment of iron were found the most violent of all the wrathful ritual texts. Many Vajrakila teachings were taken from this chamber of the box as well as the dGra bgegs thal bar rlog pa’i chos, a text said to be as pernicious as the stem of a poisonous plant (dug gi sdong po lta bu). Eight treatises on the compounding of ritual medicine (sman gyi tshad byas pa) were also found there, together with further commentaries (upadesa) and instructions on the making of ‘thread crosses’ (mdos) but not all of these texts were transcribed and disseminated.
Having discovered these five treasuries of teachings (mdzod lnga), Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem is said to have organized each of the sections into one hundred and one parts and rearranged the folios of yellow paper (shog ser po ti) into pairs like mother and son, marked with the seed-syllables (bija) of the four goddesses of the gates. Building a small monastery at bKra-bzang which was inherited as the residence of his son rNam-rgyal mgon-po, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem then taught the doctrines contained within the fivefold treasury to his son, his wife and his chosen pupils.
These teachings became known as Byang-gter or Northern Treasures in order to distinguish them from the Lho-gter (Southern Treasures) that had been revealed in previous centuries by Nyang-ral nyi-ma ’od-zer (1136-1204) and Guru chos-dbang (1212-1270). These three gter ston are widely renowned in Tibet as the kaya, vac and citta emanations of Padmasambhava himself and thought to be the three greatest gter ston of all.
Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem is also credited with the discovery of seven ‘hidden lands’ (sbas yul) in which people could live in happiness in the peaceful pursuit of Dharma. Having gone to Sikkim (’Bras-mo gshong) in the year of the ox, he resided in the area for 11 years (1373-84), experiencing many prophetic dreams, working miracles there for the benefit of all beings, and blessing the land (especially the White Rock Cave of bKra-shis-lding) as a powerful place for meditation. The Chronicle of the rulers of Sikkim describes a local cult dedicated to the holiest mountain in that vicinity (Gangs-chen mdzod-lnga) as contained in the work of a later Byang-gter gter ston, Shes-rab me-’bar. Sacred dances in honour of the deities thought to reside on the five peaks of that mountain are annually performed by royal command on the full moon day of the seventh Tibetan month and Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem himself recovered further gter ma from the central peak. This secondary revelation was in the form of images: one of Padmasambhava in wrathful guise and one of the goddess mThing-kha. Letters announcing these discoveries were dispatched to Tibet suspended from the necks of vultures.
Apart from the gter ma which he himself revealed, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem held the key to other lists of hiding places (them byang, kha byang) and was thus instrumental in the unearthing of many more texts and powerful cult objects.
In fulfilment of the prophecies that describe the treasures of Zang-zang lha-brag as being of particular importance to the dynastic descendents of Khri Srong-lde’u-btsan, in 1389 at the age of fifty-two, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem was appointed the role of personal preceptor to the king of Gung-thang, mChog-sgrub-lde. The bla ma bestowed a large number of instructions and empowerments upon the king, as well as giving him Padmasambhava’s own kila called Srid gsum bdud ’dul and other sundry sacred items of great potency. A particular cult object deemed to be endowed with especial power for the descendents of the royal line is referred to in our texts as ‘the precious Gong khug ma.’ It remains unclear as to whether this item is itself a text, or a ritual kila that was always carried by the siddha of Oddiyana and inherited from him, together with appropriate oral instructions, by Ye-shes mtsho-rgyal. In either case it is reckoned to represent the power of Vajrakila and embody the essence of the Vajrakila doctrines.
It was during his period of residency with king mChog-sgrub-lde that Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem opened up the hidden land of sKyid-mo-lung. Most of the period, however, he spent engaged in meditation in his monastery at Ri-bo dpal-’bar, a gift from the king.
During summertime in the year of the iron snake (1401), Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem bestowed the extensive transmission of the dGongs pa zang thal upon Se-ston thugs-rje rgyal-mtshan and fifteen of his followers. Thus the important branch lineage in Se was strengthened.
Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem passed away in Zil-gnon, Sikkim, at the age of seventy-one in 1408, the year of the male earth mouse. The large number of teachings and special tantric precepts that he handed down to posterity were transmitted through the three lineages known as the Mother, Son and Disciple lines. The successive holders of these doctrines are renowned as having attained many higher and ordinary siddhi.
Maintaining the continuity of the tradition
Having thus established the school of the Northern Treasures in Tibet, Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem remains, to
this day, committed by his vows as a bodhisattva to propagate these teachings so long as they continue
to serve the needs of humanity. Thus, in accordance with his religious precepts, he is said to have
manifested an emanation in the mid-14th century known as the rGod ldem yang sprul, the glorious (dpal
ldan) ’Jam-dbyangs bla-ma. Appearing in gTsang at upper Nyang, which is west of Yar-’brog lake along
the Nyang-chu river in the region of rGyal-rtse, from an early age ’Jam-dbyangs bla-ma made his home
within a community of rNying-ma practitioners and he was able to clear away all their doubts and
confusions concerning the teachings of both sutra and tantra. In upper Nyang, in a secret Dakini
treasure cave, he discovered gter ma teachings including powerful prayers to the guru, deva and dakini,
through which thousands of individuals attained liberation. Bringing particular blessings to the local
populations of Shangs, rTa-nag and ’U-yug, the teachings revealed by him at that time were later
incorporated into the Northern Treasures system and the lineage of these teachings remained unbroken
even in the time of Kong-sprul blo-gros mtha’-yas, who included several of these texts in the Rin chen
gter mdzod and composed supplementary explanations to accompany them.
The first of his ‘great’ incarnations, however, said to have been predicted by Kun-skyong gling-pa, was in mNga’-ris glo-bo as the gter ston Legs-ldan bdud-’joms rdo-rje (1512-1625). His father at that time was ’Jam-dbyangs rin-chen rgyal-mtshan, a renowned scholar and yogin, the final incarnation of Marpa lo-tsa-ba. His mother was the lady ’Bro-lcam Khrom-pa-rgyan, and his elder brother was the famous mNga’-ris pan-chen. His father was his first teacher, but it was from his root guru Sakya bzang-po that he received the transmission of the Northern Treasures. He also studied with a number of other great masters of both bka’ ma and gter ma, and became a vital link in the transmission of the anuyoga teachings, which he received from his father and subsequently entrusted to sKyi-ston Tshe-ring dbang-po along a lineage that descended to Rig-’dzin Padma ’phrin-las. From their places of concealement in bSam-yas, ’On-phu stag-tshangs and Lha-ri snying-po in Sikkim, he revealed three further volumes of teachings.
His elder brother, mNga’-ris pan-chen Padma dbang-rgyal (1487-1543), a distinguished scholar and adept in the Byang-gter lineage, established a temporary monastery around his mountainside retreat cave, to which he gave the name Evam lcog-sgar. Anticipating the future expansion of this encamped community of monks, he composed a strict code of conduct to be followed by all who dwelt there. In this way, the teachings of the vidyadhara householder rGod-ldem-can came to be the central field of study for a community of ordained bhiksu. These teachings were further supplemented by Padma dbang-rgyal’s own gter ma discovery, the cycle of Rig ’dzin yongs ’dus. Encouraged by the gter ston Shes-rab ’od-zer, Padma dbang-rgyal continued to build up both the fabric and the reputation of this religious community and eventually established the monastery of Thub-bstan gser-mdog-can. He died at the age of fifty-six in the village of ’On-sme-thang.
In 1550 Padma dbang-rgyal was reborn in upper gYas-ru, northern Tibet, as bKra-shis stobs-rgyal dbang-po’i-sde (1550-1607), the son of clan chieftain Nam-mkha’ rin-chen, a descendent of the kings of Mi-nyag. His mother was Chos-skyong ’dzom-chen. Furthering the work of his predecessor, bKra-shis stobs-rgyal discovered important gter ma in the temple of ﬁrya Palo in bSam-yas, and in the golden stupa at Lho-brag ’jod-pa. Flying up to a cave of secret practice on top of the Lhang-lhang rock in gTsang-rong, he unearthed three further cycles of teachings and he became famous for his religious activities in both Khams and China. Among his collected writings is a biography of guru Padma, completed in 1603, and the Byang gter mnga’ dbang skor gyi mtha’ dpyod byang pa gu ru ral pa can gyi legs bshad. His main Byang-gter teacher was Rig-’dzin legs-ldan rdo-rje, but he also studied with Byams-pa chos kyi rgyal-mtshan, Ratna bhadra, Rin-chen phun-tshogs and Yan-pa blo-bde. Wishing to heal the rift with the rulers of gTsang that had disrupted the peace of the Byang-gter monastic community and forced the monks to wander from place to place, bKra-shis stobs-rgyal, with the support of his religious patron Pho-bo bka’-gnam rgyal-po, continued to build up the mountainside retreat centre mNga’-ris pan-chen evam lcog-sgar which he now renamed Guru padma’i evam lcog-sgar.
At the age of thirty, bKra-shis stobs-rgyal fathered a son who was to be the last in his family line of hereditary princes of Byang ngam-ring descended from the kings of Mi-nyag. The boy’s mother was Lha-lcam yid-bzhin dbang-mo of the divine clan of Za-hor. Recognized as the third incarnation of the Mahavidyadhara rGod kyi ldem-’phru-can, this great incarnation Ngag-gi dbang-po (1580-1639) took refuge with the ’Bri-gung chos rgyal Rin-chen phun-tshogs from whom he received the name Ngag-dbang rig-’dzin rdo-rje chos-rgyal bstan-pa’i rgyal-mtshan dpal-bzang-po. Receiving from his father all the empowerments of bka’ ma and gter ma, he trained as a bhiksu, a bodhisattva and guhyamantrin, upholding all three sets of vows in perfect purity. Practising with single-pointed application at Yar-lung shel-brag and other power places associated with guru Padmasambhava, he beheld the faces of deva and dharmapala so that he gained incomparable siddhi and the ability to bring enormous benefit to all beings. Among his disciples were mKhas-grub bkra-shis rnam-rgyal, author of a seminal work clarifying the tenets of the rNying-ma school, and Zur-chen Chos-dbyings rang-grol, a great guru whose own disciples included Dalai Lama V (to whom he imparted the teachings of Vajrakila, the eight heruka sadhana and the sNying thig), Rig-’dzin Padma phrin-las, and others.
Under Ngag-gi dbang-po’s influence, peace and harmony came to prevail among the feuding warlords of eastern Tibet.
Travelling westwards, he shifted the residence of Evam lcog-sgar to the northern bank of the Tshang-po river, to an auspicious location indicated by the self-arisen symbol of a vajra (rdo rje) in the form of a nearby rock (brag), west of bSam-yas in the central province of dBus. There, in 1632 (the year of the water monkey), he founded the monastery Guru padma’i evam lcog-sgar thub-bstan rdo-rje-brag. Since then, that monastery has been the main seat of learning for the lineage of the Northern Treasures and the see for all successive incarnations of its gter ston, subsequently known by the title “Vidyadhara of rDo-rje-brag.” Ngag-gi dbang-po, the third incarnation of rGod-ldem-can, was thus also known as rDo-rje-brag rig-’dzin I. During the lifetime of its founder, the monastery of rDo-rje-brag probably housed around two hundred monks. Growing larger in later years, it was destined to become one of the principal rNying-ma-pa monasteries in Tibet. Even so, Rig-’dzin Ngag-gi dbang-po was not satisfied with what he had been able to achieve by the end of his lifetime and he entrusted further plans for its development to his leading disciple bsTan-’dzin nor-bu of Yol-mo.
The great Fifth Dalai Lama, in the year of his birth in 1617, was given an empowerment of long life by Ngag-gi dbang-po. As he grew up he came to receive the full series of tantric authorisations of the Northern Treasure tradition (some of which were said to have been received directly from the deceased master bKra-shis stobs-rgyal in mystic visions ), as well as the unbiased teachings of his own (dGe-lugs-pa) and other schools. The Great Fifth admired and honoured Ngag-gi dbang-po and composed his biography.
Ngag-gi dbang-po died in 1639.
Two years later, at Mon-mkhar rnam-sras-gling, Blo-bzang padma ’phrin-las (1641-1718) was born as the son of Karma phun-tshogs dbang-rgyal of the Bya-nag clan. His birth being marked by an unusually high number of auspicious portents, the boy was soon recognized as the fourth in the line of Mahavidyadhara. At the age of six he was placed upon the throne of rDo-rje-brag by his former disciple bsTan-’dzin nor-bu of Yol-mo. Padma ’phrin-las subsequently became a disciple of the Fifth Dalai Lama from whom he received both sramanera and bhiksu vows.
Studying intensively under some of the greatest teachers of his day, Padma ’phrin-las received the empowerments and commentaries of a large number of tantric doctrines from both the old and new schools which he put into practice during extended periods of retreat, not only in the monastery of rDo-rje-brag but also in the power places of sGrags yang-rdzong and Chu-bo-ri, blessed by Padmasambhava. As a result of his great erudition and insight, he was able to revise and greatly extend the teachings of his own incarnation line, the Northern Treasures school of rDo-rje-brag. Gathering together all of the teachings that had been handed down in the three streams of transmission from the original gter ston (the Mother, Son and Disciple lineages), he united them into a single line. He composed a number of new treatises and worked extensively to arrange the ritual texts of the Byang-gter in proper liturgical order, supplementing the original texts with extra parts wherever necessary. Correcting such errors as had arisen in the transmission, he reinstated earlier traditions of ritual activity which had become lost or confused, such as the proper systems of chanting, laying out of mandala, preparing the sacrificial bali and so on, filling thirteen volumes with his work.
As well as the great importance attached to his efforts on behalf of the Byang-gter, Kun-mkhyen padma ’phrin-las is renowned for his role in the transmission lineage of the mDo dgongs pa ’dus pa, the preeminent scripture of anuyoga. Urged by the instigations of his teacher, the great Fifth Dalai Lama, he composed the ’Dus pa mdo’i dbang chog dkyil ’khor rgya mtsho’i ’jug ngogs and conferred the empowerment of the sutra on numerous occasions. He also transmitted the complete teachings and empowerments of the Kalacakra-tantra and the empowerments of mahayoga. Both O-rgyen gter-bdag gling-pa and Lo-chen dharma-sri were among his disciples.
Rig-’dzin chen-po padma ’phrin-las was killed in 1718 when the invading Dzungar Mongols, fanatical protectors of the dGe-lugs-pa, razed the monastery of Thub-bstan rdo-rje-brag to the ground.
The fifth incarnation of Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem was bsKal-bzang padma dbang-phyug (1720-1770), born at Nyag-rong lcags-mdud in the district of sPo-’bor-sgang (Bu-bor-sgang) in southeastern Tibet, to a family claiming descent from the ancient lHa dynasty of Tibetan monarchs. Following his enthronement as rDo-rje-brag rig-’dzin III he thoroughly repaired all damage to his monastery which, once revitalized, remained a major centre for the rNying-ma tradition for the next two hundred years. His own visionary teachings (dag snang) include the bKa’ ’dus chos kyi rgya mtsho and the Padma drag po meditations upon the guru in ferocious aspect. Scenes from these visions are reenacted as sacred dances in the first month of every year, as part of the New Year celebrations.
After him came Khams-gsum zil-gnon (Kun-bzang ’gyur-med lhun-grub rdo-rje, the sixth incarnation and rDo-rje-brag rig-’dzin IV), born at gSer-tog in the region of Dar-rtse-mdo. He founded a monastery called sGar grwa-tshang at Dar-rtse-mdo as a branch of rDo-rje-brag (rDor-brag-smad), and this easternmost establishment of the Byang-gter tradition became the family monastery of the lCags-la rulers of Dar-rtse-mdo. He also obtained a special longevity practice in a pure vision, which was included in the Rin chen gter mdzod by Kong-sprul blo-gros mtha’-yas.
The next incarnation was Ngag-dbang ’jam-dpal mi-’gyur lhun-grub rdo-rje (rDo-rje-brag rig-’dzin V, 1839-1861) who came from rNam-sras-gling in Mon-mkhar. Unfortunately, dying at the young age of 22 years, little is recorded of his lifetime’s achievements.
The sixth Mahavidyadhara of rDo-rje-brag was sKal-bzang padma dbang-rgyal bdud-’dul rdo-rje, born in upper La-yag in lHo-brag. Famous for his skill in fierce tantric rites, he is said to have repulsed the invading Gorkha army by means of his occult power, for which service to his country he was rewarded by the government with the title Hu thug thu. He also died young.
Thub-bstan chos-dbang mnyam-nyid rdo-rje, the ninth incarnation of Rig-’dzin rgod-ldem, was born at Ra-mo-che rgyal-gdong, near Lhasa, in the fifth month of the wood monkey year (1884). His father was bSod-nams stobs-rgyal and his mother was Tshe-gcig-sgrol-ma. He received his first vows at the age of two from Dalai Lama XIII, who also gave him his name. At the age of three he was recognized and taken to rDo-rje-brag to be enthroned. Having received the entire lineage teachings of the Northern Treasures school from the masters ’Jigs-med rgyal-ba’i-myu-gu and Yongs-’dzin skal-bzang tshul-khrims, in the year of the iron rat (1900) he was able to welcome his first preceptor, the thirteenth Dalai Lama, as a guest to rDo-rje-brag. Five years later he took his final vows at Yar-’brog brag-ra from the preceptor Kun-bzang padma ’gro-’dul rdo-rje. In 1911 he restored the structure of rDo-rje-brag monastery and in 1916 he established a new retreat centre for the monastery, called Shel-brag ri-bo lho-nub. Having been invited by the lCags-la prince to visit Dar-rtse-mdo, Thub-bstan mnyam-nyid rdo-rje travelled extensively in Khams, visiting many of the Byang-gter monasteries and building a great stupa. He passed away in the year of the water monkey, 1932.
The present incumbent (rDo-rje-brag rig-’dzin VIII) is Thub-bstan ’jig-med rnam-grol rgya-mtsho who was born in Lhasa in 1936. Recognized as the tenth incarnation of the gter ston, he was ordained as a monk by Ra-sgreng rinpoche, the regent after the Thirteenth Dalai Lama. As well as studying the Byang-gter tradition with ’Go-tsha mkhan-chen Theg-mchog bstan-’dzin, a disciple of his predecessor, he has been taught by mKhan rinpoche of sMin-grol-gling and bDud-’joms rinpoche. Despite the overthrow of Tibet by the communist Chinese, rNam-grol rgya-mtsho has remained in Tibet where he has lately been active in the rebuilding of his monastery which was almost completely devastated during the ‘cultural revolution.’
Five incarnations who upheld the Northern Treasures in Yol-mo, Nepal
Yol-mo-ba sprul-sku I sNgags-’chang Sakya bzang-po (15th century)
An incarnation of ’Gos Padma gung-btsan, the great Dharma minister of king Khri srong-lde’u-btsan,
Sakya bzang-po was born in southern La-stod at Gram-pa-ljongs (Gram-so-rdzong) into a family of tantric
lineage holders. Studying with many of the great Dharma masters of his day, such as Nam-mkha’
dpal-ldan of Kong-po, Nam-mkha’ rgyal-mtshan, Sangs-rgyas bstan-pa (uncle of the gter ston Rig-’dzin
rgod-ldem), O-rgyan dpal-bzang from gTsang and Padma gling-pa, he learned the doctrines of both the old
and new schools. Receiving innumerable transmissions, he became knowledgeable in both bka’ ma and gter
ma. Meditating at the Byang-gter site of Ri-bo dpal-’bar, he achieved success in all his
Discovering Avalokitesvara precepts in ‘the wall of snow’ (gangs kyi ra-ba) to the south of Gung-thang, he pierced the wall and opened up the “hidden land” of Yol-mo, one of the seven hidden lands (sbas yul) deemed preeminantly suitable as sites for meditational retreat, a “place where the Dharma will flourish after its disappearance in Tibet.”
Whilst at bSam-yas monastery in the year of the water monkey (1452), he received predictions from the dakini, and from within the red stupa of bSam-yas he took out gter chos including the Zhig gsos lung bstan gyi shog ril, and another concerning Bya-rung kha-shor stupa at Boudhanatha in Nepal. This latter text had been discovered centuries earlier by Lha-btsun sngon-mo who had reconcealed a copy within the red stupa. Later, in Lha-sa, Sakya bzang-po discovered some of the great works of Srong-btsan sgam-po. With the blessings and support of Kun-dga’ grags-pa of Kong-po, Padma gling-pa and Kun-dga’ rin-chen, Sakya bzang-po then went on a pilgrimage to the sacred sites of the Kathmandu valley where he restored the Bya-rung kha-shor stupa at Boudhanatha, thus fulfilling a vow he had made in the presence of Padmasambhava during his earlier incarnation as ’Gos Padma gung-btsan. In Nepal he is said to have discovered sacred relics of the early Nepalese king ’Od-zer go-cha. He also supervised a major restoration of the great stupa at Svayambhunath, in which a cakra and spire were placed on top of the edifice by gTsang-smyon (the crazy yogin of gTsang) Sangs-rgyas rgyal-mtshan (1452-1507). The date of this repair, patronised by King Ratna Malla of Nepal and his minister ’Dza’-drag, is given as 1504, just three years before Sangs-rgyas rgyal-mtshan’s death.
sNgags-’chang Sakya bzang-po bestowed the complete teachings of the Northern Treasures upon the brothers mNga’-ris pan-chen and Legs-ldan rdo-rje, both of whom were his disciples, and was thus a vital link in the Byang-gter transmission. All the people of mNga’-ris and Gung-thang benefitted greatly from his enlightened activities.
Following a prediction given to him by mChog-ldan mgon-po, Sakya bzang-po returned to Yol-mo where he founded and supported the area’s first monastery of Cuda (Head Crest) at Padma’i-tshal.
Yol-mo-ba sprul-sku II Nam-mkha’ brgya-byin (16th century)
All that is known about Nam-mkha’ brgya-byin is that he was born in Lho-brag as the 14th descendent of
mNga’-bdag nyang rin-po-che, and that he had a disciple named O-rgyan don-grub of Nyang.
Yol-mo-ba sprul-sku III bsTan-’dzin nor-bu aka sTobs-ldan shugs-’chang-rtsal (1589-1644)
bsTan-’dzin nor-bu, the third incarnation of sNgags-’chang Sakya bzang-po, was born in Kong-po at
kLu-lnga rgyal-grong. He was the son of Rig-’dzin phrin-las dbang-phyug and lady Kun-bzang dbang-mo.
While very young he recalled his previous incarnations, exhibited remarkable abilities, and had
inspired visions. He was recognized by his former disciple O-rgyan don-grub, who subsequently became
his teacher. Taking lay vows with Zhwa-dmar Karmapa Chos-kyi dbang-phyug, he received the name Karma
thub-bstan snying-po rnam-par-rgyal-ba’i-sde. He relied on masters of the Karma-’brug-pa school and
Lo-chen ’Gyur-med bde-chen. After completing his studies at Nyin-gling, he was invited by the ruler of
Yam-bu to come to the kingdom of Nepal. There he once again consecrated and restored the great stupa
of Bya-rung kha-shor, just as he had in a previous life. He was honoured and revered by the prince of
gTsang when he gave Dharma teachings at Ngam-ring.
His main residence was the monastery of gCung ri-bo-che in western gTsang, founded by Thang-ston rgyal-po. Since then, that monastery has continued to transmit the teaching lineage of bsTan-’dzin nor-bu’s younger brother, Phyag-rdor nor-bu.
It was at sMan-thang that he met Rig-’dzin ngag-gi dbang-po who empowered him as a holder of the Byang-gter tradition and cleared his mind of all mundane theorising. bsTan-’dzin nor-bu thereafter became the chief disciple (‘heart son’) of Ngag-gi dbang-po. Proceeding to Mang-yul, he established a retreat centre at Ri-bo dpal-’bar. Engaging himself in profound meditation he received pure visions and predictions, on the basis of which he was able to take out further treasures from their place of concealment at rGyang yon-po-lung, the site from which the original key to the Byang-gter had been revealed. Upon his return to the central province, bsTan-’dzin nor-bu was entrusted by his master Ngag-gi dbang-po with the care of rDo-rje-brag monastery.
Later, in the Tara cave at rTa-nag, Yol-mo sprul-sku bsTan-’dzin nor-bu received gter ma teachings from the dakini in pure visions, but he reached the end of his life without the conditions becoming suitable for bringing forth these treasures. His “collected teachings” (gsung thor bu) fill one volume.
Yol-mo-ba sprul-sku IV Zil-gnon dbang-rgyal rdo-rje (1647- ??)
A student of the mNga’-ris gter-ston Zla-ba rgyal-mtshan, also known as Padma gar-dbang-rtsal
or Gar-dbang rdo-rje (1640-1685), among whose many gter ma discoveries was the important Vajrakila
cycle known as the sPu-gri reg-gcod, Zil-gnon dbang-rgyal rdo-rje was the author of a number of minor
works (thor bu) which were subsequently gathered together by his disciples and transmitted as a
single-volume collection (gsung thor bu). A volume of his “autobiographical reminiscences” (rnam thar
dang bka’ ’bum) was also kept in the library of the dGon-pa-byan sprul-sku. This includes five large
biographical texts in which he records his various visionary experiences and Dharma activities, from
which we may hope to learn more about this master in the future.
Among his disciples was the incumbent throne-holder (zhabs drung) of rDo-dmar, Mi-’gyur rdo-rje of gNya’-lam, born in 1675. A renowned master of the Northern Treasures, 63 of his texts survive
Yol-mo-ba sprul-sku V ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms aka Karma bdud-’joms (1725-1789)
sNgags ’chang Nyi-ma seng-ge (1687-1738), from the area of sKyid-grong in Tibet, founded a temple at
Tarkhyeghyang village in Yol-mo at some time around the year 1723 and, ever since then, his family
lineage of bsTan-gnyis gling-pa has been the chief father to son line producing the lamas of that
temple. His son ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms accordingly became head lama of Tarkhyeghyang temple upon the
death of Nyi-ma seng-ge in 1738/39.
’Phrin-las bdud-’joms was at first taught to read by his mother at the age of eight, she being of a tantric lineage from Brag-dkar rta-so in southern Tibet. He was also instructed by his father, sngags ’chang Nyi-ma seng-ge.
’Phrin-las bdud-’joms studied under four lamas of the rDo-dmar-pa spiritual lineage, referred to as ‘spiritual brothers’ (sku mchad): Padma rdo-rje (the head lama of the lineage), Padma gsang-sngags bstan-’dzin, ’Gyur-med o-rgyan gsang-sngags bstan-’dzin, and Tshe-dbang nor-bu (1698-1755). Of these, his main teacher was rDo-dmar-pa rig-’dzin chen-po Padma rdo-rje. When a child, ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms took lay ordination (dge bsnyen) from this lama at Byams-sprin, northwest of sKyid-grong, and received the name Rig-’dzin ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms.
Like his father, ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms travelled extensively between Yol-mo, southern Tibet and the Kathmandu Valley. He wrote two commentaries on the practices of the Byang-gter phur-pa, and arranged the order of their rituals. He was also the head lama of gNas-shar-le’u-dgon, as well as of rDzong-dkar at the northern end of the valley. He was actually in residence at this latter place when the Nepalese invaded the region in 1788. Tarkhyeghyang was quite clearly the poorest of the three dgon pa. He was married to the daughter of the head lama of Brag-dkar rta-so, from where his mother came, and later in his life also became the head lama of that dgon pa. Among his students was Mi-pham chos-kyi dbang-phyug (b.1775), the sprul sku of Brag-dkar rta-so who composed a biography of Tshe-dbang nor-bu and wrote several texts associated with Northern Treasures practices, and also Tshe-dbang ’chi-med mgon-po (1755-1807), the scribe of ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms’ (mainly auto-)biography. This biography was later augmented by one of his sons who took up residence in the dgon pa of Brag-dkar rta-so. Another of ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms’ sons was regarded locally as the reincarnation of his teacher Tshe-dbang nor-bu, referred to above. On his deathbed he sent two of his sons back to the dgon pa of Brag-dkar rta-so, their mother’s home, and it was there that one of them later finished writing the biography.
From this biography we learn that ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms put a lot of effort into caring for his family temple, the dgon pa of Tarkhyeghyang. He restored the fabric of the building in 1770 and was obviously much concerned about the moral laxity of its inhabitants, commenting that it had become “the street for all beings” and referring to it as an “empty shell.” He states that the religious obligations and code of the temple were not being carried out, and that the senior religious notables were taking wives and so on. He also regrets that he did not know how to set matters aright, because the lifestyle of those around him was neither that of laymen nor that of religious men. On his deathbed, however, even while instructing his sons not to let the seat of the bsTan-gnyis gling-pa lineage become a ruin, it is clear that he expected two of them to go to Brag-dkar rta-so and gNas-shar-le’u-dgon, in Tibet, rather than to stay on in Yol-mo.
Spiritual succession at the family temple in Yol-mo apparently continued through the son(s) of a second wife of ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms whom he had married at Byams-sprin. This second wife was of the rDo-dmar-pa lineage.
’Phrin-las bdud-’joms regarded himself as Tibetan and refers to the Nepalese as mon pa. He was used to conducting relations with the Tibetan, the Newar and then the Gurkha kingdoms. His is the only biography so far recorded concerning a lama born in Yol-mo. The succession of Yol-mo sprul-sku ended with ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms and there is no local written account of the continuation of the spiritual lineage after his son.
In 1792, three years after the death of ’Phrin-las bdud-’joms, the Chinese invaded Nepal from sKyid-grong and imposed the terms of a treaty. From then, up until the successful reinvasion of the sKyid-grong and gNya’-lam areas by the Gurkhas under the Ranas in 1855, all of those outlying districts within the area to the north of the Kathmandu Valley and south of the passes into present day Tibet, were regarded as, if not within an area of Tibetan influence, then outside the immediate control of the Nepalese.
Graham Clarke, “A Helambu History,” Journal of the Nepal Research Centre IV (1980) 7.
For a modern ethnographic account of life in this region see Graham Clarke, “Lama and Tamang in Yolmo.” In: M.Aris & A.S.Suu Kyi (eds.), Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson, Warminster, 1980, pp.79-86
Graham Clarke, “The Great and Little Traditions in the study of Yolmo, Nepal.” In: Ernst Steinkellner & Helmut Tauscher (eds.), Contributions on Tibetan Language, History and Culture. Proceedings of the Csoma de Koros Symposium held at Velm-Vienna, 1981. Vol.1 pp.21ff
Yol-mo and its temples are described in C.Jest, Monuments of Northern Nepal (UNESCO, 1981) 80-90.
Rinpoche’s way of teaching was quiet unusual. In his later years he didn’t give extended formal
teachings but being in his present was the actual transmission. He would teach individuals by using all
means: giving personal instructions, a look, a gesture, a shout, ...
“First enlightenment, then study”, he used to say to his students. Doing the practice was really the
heart of his style. Following is an extract from a teaching by Tulku Thondup, given during the
butterlampretreat 2003-4 in gompaland, where he talks about Rinpoche:
There is another important thing that I would like to share with you and hope you will try to remember.
Different teachers have different ways of teaching, different ways of functioning and serving
disciples. Some teach and serve in streets and markets. Others live in caves and hermitages, meditating
and praying. Others teach scholarly texts, -- this text, that text, -- and emphasize the learning of
intellectual and scholarly material in books. Of course this is all wonderful. Other teachers make
students contemplate on the nature of the mind for years. Yet others instruct disciples to do lots of
recitations. And yes, Rinpoche was a scholar and he taught scholarly texts, too. But his emphasis, his
focus was on rituals, ceremonies. Through rituals, through ceremonies, through devotional prayers, he
transmitted his own power into others, he shared his own blessings with others and his own wisdom mind
with the minds of his students. And through ceremonies he helped his disciples experience spiritual
experiences and helped to awaken whatever wisdom, compassion, confidence, or whatever they could
Rinpoche would move along the nine yanas according to the needs of whoever would approach him. In that
way he had many displays in order to help sentient beings. Sometimes very gentle and sweet, sometimes
very hard and shocking.
Describing Rinpoche is difficult since he was so unpredictable because his mind wasn’t bound to dualistic perceptions. Tulku Thondup again about Rinpoche:
I think all of you must have felt that Rinpoche possesses an amazing quality, incredible power and
strength, and astonishing confidence. Yes, sometimes he was rough, tough, and showed his temper. But
you would always feel his amazing love and kindness no matter what he said or did. The wonderful thing
is that in one moment he could be scolding or angry at someone, but the next moment he would turn
around and smile with the greatest kindness and love. For us, when we get angry or upset, it takes time
to calm down and become peaceful before we can smile. But he could be wrathful and compassionate at the
same time. From one side he would be manifesting his wrathful form; from the other side, his
compassionate, loving, and peaceful form without a trace of real anger.
In those days, I didn't necessarily think about all this. But later I understood that it meant that for Rinpoche all things are just a display, like acting or a show. All are in equality, like a Buddha with wrathful and peaceful heads united in ultimate peace. He was not angry at heart or in mind but was acting at the surface for a purpose, displaying images like a wrathful Buddha.
Rinpoche was a great Siddha, an enlightened tantric master. Many of his students have witnessed all
kinds of miraculous things happening. Tulku Thondup:
I eventually left for the States in 1980 and, after that, saw Rinpoche very rarely, so I don't know how
he was teaching after that. But before that, when Rinpoche would perform ceremonies, -- in the early
days he didn't have many disciples, -- but whoever was there, many would have amazing experiences. They
would have some sort of awakening of spiritual realization, energy, power, wisdom, however you may call
it, during the rituals, in the ceremonies, in the Tshog ceremonies, especially during the chanting of
the Seven Line Prayer. So this was Rinpoche’s medium, his channel to reach and help others. And I think
many of you, who are his disciples, must have witnessed this and been helped by Rinpoche in this
Teaching by Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche.
Extract from the practice of doing prostrations by Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche:
But for those who do not make prostrations, those who only talk emptily like the rabbit in the story,
this text is not necessary. Those who have not done prostrations but who say they have done a hundred
thousand make those with the eye of wisdom feel ashamed with their lies.
For all of us of the five Dharma ways of Tibet (Bon, Nyingma, Sakya, Kargyud and Gelug), although it is possible that our systems of mediations may vary a little, we will not find written anywhere that it is not necessary to make a hundred thousand prostrations. All five Dharma sects say that these prostrations are certainly very important and necessary and this is found in the explanations of many authentic books.
Futhermore, amongst all religions, the Muslims, Christions, Hindus and so forth, there is the practice of bowing the head and body. Respectful bowing is made to the Guru and high officials throughout the world and this is an equivalent for prostrations.
It has never been taught that there is no need for all of you to do prostrations. If you say “the Guru told me this” nobody will believe you. Because from former times until now, Gurus have not said such things.
If it has ever been said to you it means that you are a being greater than even Vajradhara himself, or else that the one who said it was a non-Tibetan impersonating a Lama like a wolf wearing a sheep’s clothing.
Not only that … Everywhere people go into their own churches and temples. The Muslims pay homage and the Buddhists prostrate, Christians say “Amen” and Hindus say “Pranam”. These acts are all the same as prostration.
Religious people everywhere bow down their heads and bend their knees in respectful homage. Apart from that, whenever many people gather together in a place of assembly then the chairman and each one greets all of his friends and is happy to see the ones he knows and shake hands and wave to them. These greetings are all known as abbreviated forms of prostrations.
All over the world people have always liked to show respect either to their teachers and the greatly learned ones of old, or to the popular leaders and administrators of our modern world.
If, in these troubled times, it is necessary to show respect towards even ordinary beings – how could it be unnecessary to show respect to the unequalled Three Jewels? In this way each person will collect his own stock of merit. Even though the respect shown to the worldly people whose egos are rough and untamed acts as a cause for them to grow in monstrous pride with deceptive results, one’s own collection of merit on the other hand will never act as a cause for making trouble for others.
With the outer visible world being purified as a paradise, the inhabitants will be seen as gods and goddesses. Thus it is necessary to know that this is their natural condition.
In accordance with the teachings of the upper yanas from the 4th to the 9th and as it has been explained in the view of the 3rd turning of the wheel: all sentient beings are endowed with Buddha-nature, thus those whose vision is pure must have respect for them all.
If one knows the truth of greater wisdom of the non-duality of all actions in subject and object, then he is like the sun with its nature of heat and its all-pervading great rays – there is no need for prostrations.
Regarding the nine objects of the outer, inner and secret refuge places according to our authentic texts it is necessary to go for refuge genuinely and strongly. It is very important to make one hundred thousand prostrations.
This was written by the wandering beggar, the sick man, ‘Chhi Med Rig ‘Dzin for the benefit of other at the time when he was unable to make prostrations himself. English translation by C.R. Lama and James Low.
Tulku Thondup Rinpoche writes about his connection with Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche
There are many connections between Chhimed Ringzin Rinpoche's and my, Tulku Thondup‘s backgrounds. The
Great Terton, Khordong Terchen Nuden Dorje was a nephew of the First Dodrupchen Rinpoche . Tulku
Tshulthrim Zangpo (Tulku Tsullo), Rinpoche‘s main teacher was a disciple of the third Dodrupchen
Rinpoche . Also Shugchung Gonpa, the main seat of Tulku Tshulthrim Zangpo is 15 - 20 miles from the
I was recognized as the Tulku of Konme Khenpo, one of the four great Khenpos of Dodrupchen Monastery
during the early twentieth century. Konme Khenpo lived in the hermitage of Shugchung monastery. He
built a big Chorten (stupa) in the monastery itself. Shugchung is one of the three main monasteries of
Khordong lineage. The others are Khordong and Bane Monasteries.
Tertul Chhimed Ringzin Rinpoche left Kham when he was young. After years of staying in Central Tibet he left for India where he lived from then on.
In 1957, I escaped to India with Kyabje Dodrupchen Rinpoche as a refugee.
In 1962, I ran into Tertul Rinpoche (CRL) in Kalimpong (after his return from Italy and Germany). He immediately invited me to come to Santiniketan, if I was looking for any financial help or job. In those days, Rinpoche was the only Tibetan, who had a teaching position at an Indian University. After some time, I went to Santiniketan and Rinpoche helped me to apply to University Grants Comission of India - through the University - for a research scholarship.
In 1963, I received a research scholarship and stayed with Rinpoche's family doing my research for three or four years. He looked after me like a father or brother and took me under his wing. We had quiet, but very special days of life at Santiniketan, which I always treasure in my memories.
In 1967, the University of Lucknow a offered me a position as a lecturer (Assistant Professor). So I moved to Lucknow, where I taught for nine years.
In 1976, after years of great effort by Rinpoche, Santiniketan University offered me a position as Reader (Associate Professor). So I moved back and taught there again for four years. I stayed with Rinpoche’s family again for four years.
Then in 1980, I came to Harvard University as a Visiting Scholar and didn't return to India.
Rinpoche is one of the great historical figures in Nyingma history. He combined amazing power and natural love, something hard to find. Rinpoche loved me as his own brother or child and treated me with the greatest care. He always wanted me to teach and function as a Lama (Guru). But my preference was always just to write and give talks.
I hope Rinpoche's students will remain enjoying the blessing-power that he so kindly shared with them, as it is, without falling to any intellectual and emotional temptations.
Teaching Tulku Thondup:
he following is a transcript of a talk given by Tulku Thondup Rinpoche in December 2003 at Gompaland
near Siliguri in India. The topic is Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche's connection with Tulku and his (C.R.
Lama's) disciples and how to use that important connection as a spiritual lineage.
First, I would like to say a few words about the Byangter and Khordong lineages. Of course the Byangter
lineage is one of the major gter lineages of Nyingma. Yesterday we talked about the Life and Lineage of
Guru Padmasambhava and the tradition of gter. So now it is easier for us to understand the gter, which
Padmasambhava concealed and which were discovered centuries later by the rebirths of Guru
Rigdzin Godem, who lived in the 14th century, discovered the teachings of Guru Padmasambhava. Look at
the image of Rigdzin Godem. (Pointing to the painting on the temple wall). He is holding a square box
in his left hand. That particular gter box represents the gter drom that he discovered in Zazang
Labtrag, Western Tibet. That particular gter casket had many partitions, and in the middle one, he
found yellow scrolls (Shog Ser) of Gongpa Zangthal, the Boundless Vision of Dzogpa Chenpo. In the other
compartments he found the yellow scrolls of different teachings. He transcribed and transmitted them to
disciples, and that became the Byangter teachings, one of the most important gter traditions of Guru
Rigdzin Godem is regarded as one the three or five supreme gter discoverers of Nyingma. He and his disciples lived in Western Tibet. However, it was in the northern direction of Western Tibet. So his lineage become known as Byangter or Northern gTer. Later on, the third incarnation of Rigdzin Godem moved his seat to central Tibet and established the Dorjedrak monastery, which remains the Byangter lineage’s main seat to this day.
The Khordong gter tradition is a branch of Byangter. In common dialect we pronounce it ‘Khangdong,’ although in written form it is ‘Khordong’ ('Khor gDong). So if you go to Eastern Tibet and say ‘Khordong’ people may not understand!
Khordong Terchen, as you all know, lived in the 18th-19th century. He was a contemporary and nephew of the first Dodrupchen Rinpoche. He discovered many gter teachings. Most of his discoveries took place in Tsoo valley. However, according to Khenpo Choeyak (a Khenpo from Shugchung monastery and one of the oldest living Khenpos who unfortunately died about five years ago), the teachings on the Sengdongma or Lionfaced Deity were discovered from Tsangchen Srinmo rock near Dodrupchen monastery. I have a videotape on which you can see it. Srinmo is quite an amazingly erected rock that stands near the monastery. According to Khenpo, Khordong Terchen was on the other side of the river when he flew through the sky, landed on the middle of the rock, and took out the gter box. Then he flew back to the other side of the river.
Nowadays they have built a road by the rock, so you can drive through. But in those days, there was hardly even a footpath. So Terchen had to fly over the river and back again to take the gter box out of that very steep rock.
Kordong Terchen -- Terchen means great gter discoverer, -- discovered many teachings and the lineage of his teachings became the Khordong lineage. But the Khordong lineage has become more or less a part of Byangter in that area, like mother and son.
Another important terton in the Khordong lineage was Gonpo Wangyal, who also discovered teachings as gter. And, as all of you know, there was also another amazing master in the Khordong lineage. He was Tulku Tshulthrim Zangpo (Tsullo), one of the greatest scholars and a monk, respected by all different schools of Buddhism in Tibet.
I myself am a follower of Longchen Nyingthig lineage, which is another branch of Nyingma lineage. My monastery is Dodrupchen monastery, separate from Khordong lineage. But the Dodrupchen lineage and Khordong lineage share many unique connections. Geographically one of the monasteries of the Khordong lineage, Shugchung monastery, is only 15 or 20 miles from Dodrupchen monastery. Both are in the Do valley. Also Khordong Terchen was a nephew and disciple of the first Dodrupchen. Tulku Tshultrim Zangpo himself was a disciple of the third Dodrupchen Rinpoche and he did his scholarly studies with Khenpo Damchoe (or Champa Ozer) of Dodrupchen monastery. My predecessor - I don't necessarily believe I was such a great lama in past life - not only had a connection with Khordong monastery, but he also had a house in the hermitage of Shugchung monastery and lived there for a long time. My predecessor also built a huge stupa (which has since been rebuilt) in Shugchung monastery. So they had a special kind of connection in the past.
Three monasteries follow the Khordong lineage. They are the Khordong and Bane Monasteries, both situated in Nyi valley. The third, Shugchung Monastery, is in Dho valley. These three main monasteries are like the pillars of lineage. Shugchung is the biggest. Many scholars including Tshultrim Zangpo belong to it. It still has a couple of hundred monks. In the past, it may have housed up to three or four hundred monks. They were well known for their tradition of performing liturgies as they were very disciplined in their performance of rites, ceremonies, and religious dances. I never visited Khordong or Bane, but I have been to Shugchung many times, which is an amazingly wonderful monastery. However, as it is situated by the bank of Dho river, it always faces the danger of flooding.
Next I would like to say something about our Rinpoche, Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche. The first Khordong Terchen was a great terton, discovered many teachings as gter, and was the incarnation of Kheuchung Lotsawa, one of the 25 main disciples of Guru Padmasambhava. H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche is the incarnation of Dudjom Lingpa and Dudjom Lingpa is also the incarnation of Kheuchung Lotsa. So, both Khordong Terchen and Dudjom Lingpa are incarnations of the same disciple of Guru Padmasambhava.
Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche is the third incarnation of Khordong Terchen. Of course, when I was young in Golok, we heard about Khordong Terchen. But I was so young, I did not know that Khordong Terchen's tulku had left the area and disappeared. We always heard about one of Khordong Terchen’s grandsons, Khordong Gyurmed Dorje, as he was a very famous master. So I just assumed that Khordong Terchen was still in Khordong monastery.
When I came to India in 1956/7 following Kyabje Dodrupchen Rinpoche, I first spent a number of years in the Sikkim, Darjeeling, and Kalimphong areas. One day in Kalimpong, there was a jeep driving along the main road. In that jeep was this amazing person. I felt so amazed at seeing him. I smiled at him and he smiled back. But that was all. I did not know who he was. Then after a few days, as I was walking in Kalimphong, in an Indian shop at the crossing of the road that leads to the ninth mile and the road that leads to the tenth mile - I saw the same person, sitting and talking with everyone who walked by. This was the biggest cross-street in Kalimpong. Rinpoche seemed always to enjoy sitting at the crossing of roads and talking to people who were coming and going. He waved to me to join him, which I did. We talked for a long time. He didn't tell me he was Khordong Terchen's Tulku or anything. He just said that he was from Kham and teaching at a place called Shantiniketan. At the end, he told me, "come to see me at Tirpai."
After a few days I went to visit him at his apartment in the Tirpai village, on the hill behind Kalimpong. We talked for a long time, mainly about me. Even then he never said a word about his being a tulku. He told me that he was teaching at a university and if I needed help he would try to help me. Of course, I was a refugee who had escaped just a couple of years earlier. Rinpoche was a well-established professor in a University in India. Yes, I was in need of his help. He gave me his address at Shantineketan and said, “if you need anything, write me or come to my place and we will see whether I can help you to find a job.”
Then some time in 1962 when the Chinese attacked India, many Tibetans rushed towards the planes of India. I left Darjeeling and moved to Bodhgaya. From Bodhgaya I wrote to Rinpoche saying I was at Bodhgaya and wished to come to see him. He wrote back immediately, inviting me to come.
So I went to Shantineketan. At that time Rinpoche's daughter Surja (Nise), whom many of you know, was only six months old. The very next day Rinpoche took me to see the Vice Chancellor, the head of University. With the recommendation of Rinpoche, who was the Head of Indo-Tibetan Studies Department and the Vice Chancellor, I immediately applied to the University Grants Commission, in New Delhi, for a research scholarship. Needless to say, I had to wait for months until an answer arrived from Delhi saying that I had been granted a research scholarship. So I stayed at Visva-Bharati University at Shantiniketan for more than three years - as part of Rinpoche's family or as a permanent guest of the family.
In 1976, there was a teaching position at the University of Lucknow. I was selected for the post and
moved to Lucknow. Rinpoche was happy that I got the job, but he wasn't that happy that I was leaving as
we all had became so close with Rinpoche, Amala, the children, and everybody. But of course it was
important to have a permanent job. So we agreed that I should leave. So I left for Lucknow and taught
there for nine years.
I think it took many years for Rinpoche to tell me and for me to learn that he was the tulku of
Khordong Terchen. Of course we all knew that he was a very special lama, a very unique person, but we
didn't know who he really was. Simply being with him you felt that he was not just a professor,
teacher, or friend, but an amazing person.
I think all of you must have felt that Rinpoche possesses an amazing quality, incredible power and strength, and astonishing confidence. Yes, sometimes he was rough, tough, and showed his temper. But you would always feel his amazing love and kindness no matter what he said or did. The wonderful thing is that in one moment he could be scolding or angry at someone, but the next moment he would turn around and smile with the greatest kindness and love. For us, when we get angry or upset, it takes time to calm down and become peaceful before we can smile. But he could be wrathful and compassionate at the same time. From one side he would be manifesting his wrathful form; from the other side, his compassionate, loving, and peaceful form without a trace of real anger.
In those days, I didn't necessarily think about all this. But later I understood that it meant that for Rinpoche all things are just a display, like acting or a show. All are in equality, like a Buddha with wrathful and peaceful heads united in ultimate peace. He was not angry at heart or in mind but was acting at the surface for a purpose, displaying images like a wrathful Buddha.
What is the meaning of a wrathful Buddha? We see all these wrathful images of Buddhas (gesturing around the temple). But in truth wrathful Buddhas have nine qualities. Their bodies are wrathful, heroic, and frightening. Their voices are laughing, threatening, and fierce. But mentally they are loving, peaceful, and powerful. Like all enlightened beings, their minds are peaceful, compassionate, joyful, and wise. If a being is wrathful on the outside and also angry in its heart, then it is a real monster -- not a Buddha. Wrathful Buddhas look wrathful for a purpose: for pacifying, for taming negative forces. Such images are sometimes needed to pacify negative forces, etc. That is why Rinpoche now and then showed a wrathful side, though he is a peaceful, kind, and loving person. So that is what he was.
Rinpoche was also, as I was saying before, powerful. For example, his daughter Norzin (Laxmi) was once sick in the hospital for days. She used to say that simply having Rinpoche by her bedside was the best medication that she could ever have. All her anxieties would disappear. He had an astonishing power that would bring reassurance, confidence, strength, and wisdom. I think many of you know what I am talking about. He had amazing foresight, -- what to do, what not to do, -- not only regarding spiritual issues, but also ordinary, worldly, mundane matters. He enjoyed this amazing wisdom mind, which foresees what you should do, etc.
There is another important thing that I would like to share with you and hope you will try to remember. Different teachers have different ways of teaching, different ways of functioning and serving disciples. Some teach and serve in streets and markets. Others live in caves and hermitages, meditating and praying. Others teach scholarly texts, -- this text, that text, -- and emphasize the learning of intellectual and scholarly material in books. Of course this is all wonderful. Other teachers make students contemplate on the nature of the mind for years. Yet others instruct disciples to do lots of recitations. And yes, Rinpoche was a scholar and he taught scholarly texts, too. But his emphasis, his focus was on rituals, ceremonies. Through rituals, through ceremonies, through devotional prayers, he transmitted his own power into others, he shared his own blessings with others and his own wisdom mind with the minds of his students. And through ceremonies he helped his disciples experience spiritual experiences and helped to awaken whatever wisdom, compassion, confidence, or whatever they could awaken.
I eventually left for the States in 1980 and, after that, saw Rinpoche very rarely, so I don't know how he was teaching after that. But before that, when Rinpoche would perform ceremonies, -- in the early days he didn't have many disciples, -- but whoever was there, many would have amazing experiences. They would have some sort of awakening of spiritual realization, energy, power, wisdom, however you may call it, during the rituals, in the ceremonies, in the Tshog ceremonies, especially during the chanting of the Seven Line Prayer.
The Healing Power of Mind, Simple Meditation Exercises for Health, Well-Being, and Enlightenment, by Tulku Thondup. USA: Shambhala Publications, 1996/98, Buddhayana Series VII.
Healing Meditations: Simple Exercises for Health, Peace, and Well-Being, by Tulku Thondup. USA: Shambhala Publications, 1998 (Pocket Classics).
Boundless Healing :Meditation Exercises to Enlighten the Mind and Heal the Body, by Tulku Thondup. USA: Shambhala Publications, 2000, Buddhayana Series VIII.
Masters of Mediation and Miracles: Lives of the Great Buddhist Masters of India and Tibet, by Tulku Thondup. Edited by Harold Talbott. USA: Shambhala Publications, 1995, Buddhayana Series VI.
The Practice of Dzogchen (Buddha Mind). Introduced, translated, and annotated by Tulku Thondup. Edited by Harold Talbott. USA: Snow Lion, 1989/96, Buddhayana Series III.
Enlightened Journey, Buddhist Practice as Daily Life by Tulku Thondup. Edited by Harold Talbott. USA: Shambhala Publications, 1995, Buddhayana Series V.
Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation
of the Terma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, by Tulku Thondup Rinpoche. Edited by Harold Talbott. USA: Wisdom, 1986, Buddhayana
Enlightened Living: Teachings of Tibetan Buddhist Masters. Translated by Tulku Thondup. Edited by Harold Talbott. Nepal: Rangjung Yeshe, 1997, Buddhayana Series IV.
The Dzogchen: Innermost Essence Preliminary Practice. Jig-me Lingpa. Translated with commentary by Tulku Thondup. Edited by Brian Beresford. India: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, 1998.
Buddhist Civilization in Tibet, by Tulku Thondup. UK: Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd, 1987, Buddhayana Series II.
The Tantric Tradition of the Nyingmapa, The Origin of Buddhism in Tibet, by Tulku Thondup. USA: Buddhayana, 1984.
Bod Skad Slob Deb (Tibbati Pathamala - Tibetan Grammar Reader in Tibetan and Hindi), by Tulku Thondup. India: Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Saranath, 1979/97.
The Assemblage of Vidyadharas of Long-Chen Nying-Thig. Translation by Tulku Thondup of Rigdzin Dupa - sadhana. India: Dodrupchen Rinpoche, 1980/92.
The Queen of Great Bliss of Long-Chen Nying-Thig. Translation by Tulku Thondup of Yumka Dechen Gyalmo - sadhana. India: Dodrupchen Rinpoche, 1983/92.
For further information please visit: http://www.TulkuThondup.com/
James Low, MA, PhD went out to India as a student and at once became deeply involved with religious
study and practice. After reading Anthropology with first class honours at Edinburgh in the end of the
sixties, he went to India for his studies living at first in the company of sadhus. Later, through
meeting Tibetan lamas, who were then moving increasingly into India, he encountered the world of
Tibetan Buddhism. He studied Tibetan language, literature and philosophy at Vishva-Bharati University,
Shantiniketan, in West Bengal under the guidance of Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche who also became his
meditation teacher. Then for ten years James worked with Rinpoche translating many important Nyingma
texts as well as doing extensive meditation retreats in the Himalayas. During these studies he worked
with many original texts, like sadhanas of different deities and texts of the Dzogchen and Madhyamika
tradition and other parts of Buddhist philosophy.
James Low obtained a degree from the Nyingma research Society, associated with the Central Institute of
He returned to Britain and has been living in London since the beginning of the eighties. He trained in Psychotherapy in which he now offers university training and consultancy as well as working in a hospital.
James Low is part of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. At the request of his teacher H.H.
Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche he has been giving Dharma talks and seminars since 1992. Besides imparting
basic Buddhist views and tantric teachings his main interest lies in the Dzogchen view and practise.
There he combines in his own fresh and vivid nature the philosophy of east and west as well as the view
and meditation of Dzogchen with his experience of modern psychotherapy.
Teaching James Low.
What follows is a quote from James Low (2004:130-1) of his commentary on The Mirror of Clear Meaning by
All human learning comes in a lineage. Our parents pass on to us what they have learned as do school teachers. So do friends in the playground. The friend who gives us our first cigarette and shows us how to smoke is also part of a lineage, a transmission. Learning from books involves skills we have learned at school. We are always in relation to others. Therefore respect and gratitude to all teachers is important, even if they taught is badly, or taught us bad things – for what they were demonstrating is the inseparability of self and other. We internalize what was externalized by others, and in turn we externalize to others what we have internalized. This pulsation weaves the co-emergence of inner and outer, subject and object, self and other, giving and receiving. Each knowledge carries a sense of how it is to be used. For esoteric learning, such as tantra and dzogchen, it is vital to have a living transmission from someone who has not received just the teaching but the permission to teach. Very often teachers only empower only one or two of their students to teach for the lineage needs living integration of the view, meditation, activity and result is to carry its full force.
A. Sadhanas and related texts.
Various practice texts of the Byangter-, Khordong- and other traditions in collaboration with H.H. Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche. Edited by Khordong Terchen Tulku Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche.
B. Published books.
LOW, JAMES. “Buddhist Developmental Psychology”, in: Psychology East and West, Crook and Fontana (Hg.), Element Books, 1989.
CROOK, JOHN & LOW, JAMES. “The Yogins of Ladakh, A Pilgrimage Among the Hermits of the Buddhist Himalayas.” Motilal Banarsidass Publishers Private Limited, Delhi, 1997.
LOW, JAMES. “Simply Being.” (translations of Dzogchen and Mahamudra texts of the Nyingma and Kagyu tradition, including most of the Tibetan originals), Durtro Press, London 1994, out of print, reprinted with introductions to the texts and excerpts of James teachings without Tibetan by Vajra-Press, 1998
LOW, JAMES. 2004. “Being Right Here. A Dzogchen Treasure Text of Nuden Dorje entitled the Mirror of Clear Meaning.” Commentary by James Low. Snow Lion Publication: Ithaca, New York, Boulder, Colorado.
Jomo Gudrun has been a pupil of H.H. Chimed Rigdzin Rinpoche since 1989. She is a teacher by
profession, and has been instated as Rinpoche's representative in Germany. Jomo Gudrun has accompanied
Rinpoche on many of his journeys, on which many of the presently available ritual texts were published
and translated. Since 1997, when Rinpoche made this request of her, she has been teaching, and she is
empowered to give certain initiations. Because of her open and accessible nature, she gives conveys
Dharma directly, and free of cultural and language barriers.
The following contribution was written by her upon the request of a few Sangha members.
Meditating With The Heart
The teaching of the Buddha is basically, that there is suffering, but that there's also a way to end
that suffering. The aim of our practice is therefore primarily to find happiness, joy, contentment...
for ourselves and for others.
Most of the instructions for meditation and everyday life that we practice today rest on the experience that Buddha and other yogis made, who later became realized. Through the aid of these methods they were able to free themselves of suffering, discontentment, frustration and they came to experience joyful states. By adopting their methods, we too can have joyful experiences.
But inspiration does not come solely from Buddha or similarly realized beings. In our immediate surroundings we can observe which actions lead to happiness. When we observe two lovers, we see, that where boundaries dissolve and love is admitted, joy arises. We can also see this when a mother regards her baby... we all know such moments.
We can use these observations in our meditation. When we begin our meditation we recollect such an experience? Either one we witnessed somewhere, or one we ourself experienced. We allow the memory to become so powerful that a feeling of joy overtakes us. To intensify the experience further, we smile with our eyes. We lovingly regard ourselves and enjoy the relaxation that sets in as a result. We feel the love that manifests in our heart. Everything that troubles or preoccupies is dissolved by this love.
We understand that we have the potential to become a loving, helpful human being. For this reason I have respect for myself. The potential is there, I just need to cultivate and practice it, in order to perfect it. Everything I need is already contained in myself. I am pleased with the small things that I have already mastered, I appreciate my good qualities, and I will improve from today on.
I understand, that the person next to me wants to experience happiness and joy as I do, and that he or she also has excellent Qualities and potential. I genuinely wish that he or she is happy.
In this way I can increasingly develop compassion for myself and for others. Love, compassion, respect, joy and equanimity are the basis for our meditation. And we can experience them through very simple practices, like the one described above. I begin with myself and more and more I learn to integrate others in them.
Conversely, I can observe how others experience sadness, discontent, frustration, and I can try to learn something from that. To cut off communication, withdraw and concentrate completely on one's own misery is surely a way that leads to suffering rather than happiness.
At times when I wasn't feeling too well, Rinpoche always encouraged me to approach others and to bring them something. When I felt someone didn't like me, he sent me to that very person to ask them something.
To come out of one's isolation requires a lot of courage and strength. But you will be rewarded for it! Communicating with others, instead of embittered silence, sharing and openness, instead of hiding reservedly, accepting all situations just as they are, instead of resisting them.
Listening to others, helping them instead of drowning in self-pity, forgiveness instead of revenge ? you know what else to add to this list.
These aren't moral obligations. Rather they're effective methods that lead to happiness for one oneself. Don't wait for someone else to take care of you. Take up the initiative yourself!
None of the things written here are new to us. We know all of this ourselves. Perhaps becoming conscious of it and bringing it into awareness will inspire us to apply it.
tranlated into english by Anna Aly-Labana
***taken from the German Newsletter No. 2 / 1999
As one of Rinpoche's senior students, Martin Boord will be known to many people already within the
Khordong sangha. Having met with the lama whilst on pilgrimage in India in 1973, Martin invited
Rinpoche to Great Britain a few years later in order to initiate the transmission to Europe of the
Byangter Phurpa (Northern Treasures Vajrakila). Although he has carefully looked over the entire
Buddhist Tripitaka, the particular teaching that he requested and received from Rinpoche was the
Byangter Phurba. So he translated a big Vajrakila Sadhana Volume. Taking this as his theme to the
university to London, Martin was awarded a BA in Religious Studies (Buddhism), followed by the degree
of Doctor of Philosophy for this work by "School of Rriental and African Studies" of the University of
London in 1992 (The Cult of the Deity Vajrakila, Tring, 1993).
When he first met the Tibetan Buddhism at the Kathmandu Valley / Nepal in 1967 he was quiet impressed
by the magnificence and the beauty of the Tantrayana and Tibetan Buddhism. He started his formal
teachings in Dharamsala at the Tibetan library with studying the path of the sutras for 2 years, while
he already was interested in the teachings of Padmasambhava. There eventually he met his first Root
Guru, Lama Khandrul Yeshe Dorje, known as "The Rainmaker", a nyingma lama. Martin lived with him for a
couple of years, following him around and being his adjutant and helping to do several practices.
Martin lived altogether 8 years in India, mainly in Tibetan places with Tibetans. He has been also
studying Sanskrit to learn the Dharma in its original form.
One other important teacher from which he received many important teachings was H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, the head of the Nyingma School of the Tibetan Buddhism.
Martin met H.H. Chhimed Rigdzin for the first time, while he was on Pilgrimage with Lama Khandrul Yeshe Dorje in 1973 in Sarnath. Back in England in 1974 Martin settled in Cornwall and founded with his wife a small dharma centre and invited Chhimed Rigdzin Rinpoche to England in 1979/80, the first time Rinpoche visited England. After this Martin followed Rinpoche to India, to the university in Shantiniketan well known through Rabindrad Tagore where Martin joined the translation team around Rinpoche for some time.
Again back in England and after a loose three year retreat in Scotland he continued his study of Buddhism on the university of London and moved after his PhD to Oxford.
He now studies in Oxford. During the years since then he has completed a translation of the most illustrious commentary on Phurba practice, the Black 100,000 Words (Phur 'grel 'bum nag) by Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra and Silamanju. It is a report of a retreat that was hold by Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra and Silamanju in Nepal in the 8th century. It was transmitted to Yeshe Tsogyal by Padmasambhava. This text is now published with edition khordong, 2002.