“KNOW DAKINI IS MIND!” THE FIVE DAKINIS’ SONG TO KHYUNGPO NELJOR AND ‘THE OCEAN OF BLESSINGS MEANINGFUL TO HEAR” VAJRA SONGS OF SHANGPA KAGYU: Overview of the Vajra Verses and Songs of the Shangpa Kagyu compiled by First Jamgon Kongtrul and new translation of the five Dākinīs’ song to Khungpo Neljor to commemorate his parinirvana

“Then, without material needs, I carried gems and gold powder
And underwent hardships without concern for my precious life
To travel seven times to Nepal and India.
I approached one hundred fifty Indian scholars,
Among whom fifty were particularly learned and accomplished.
Four were my especially exalted root spiritual masters;
Two were wisdom dākinīs who received teachings
Directly from enlightenment’s perfect rapture, the sixth Buddha Vajra-Bearer.

–Khyungpo Neljor’s Autobiographical Song from Ocean of Blessings

“The laughter of these songs of realization reverberates throughout space to nourish adepts’ faith and devotion; to strike with the riding crop of encouragement to turn away from attachment and to foster renunciation; to augment meditative experience; to instil firm confidence in realization’s wisdom; to please the spiritual heroes and dākinīs; to lead others to freedom along the narrow passage through obstacles and impediments; and to satisfy infinite numbers of human and nonhuman beings with the unsurpassable gift of the Teachings.

Those who sing these songs must relinquish thoughts of themselves as ordinary persons and remain steadfast within contemplative practice.”

—First Jamgon Kongtrul’s Introduction in Ocean of Blessings

“Due to not understanding that, yogis
Even if practicing for eons, will not become accomplished.
Therefore, the dākinī is mind
Is the supreme, essential knowledge.”

–excerpt from Know Dakini is Mind song from the Ocean of Blessings

“You may thus read the songs reassured that you are welcome to take from them anything meaningful to you without having to “buy” this tradition. On the other hand, if you want to find a Shangpa lama to further your connection with this lineage, you may find one where you least expect— in the person of your chosen spiritual master whom you know as a lama of another school. Many lamas from all traditions have received and practiced these meditations.”

–translator, Hugh Thompson in Timeless Rapture (2003:27)

Introduction

For the forthcoming commemoration (6th December) of Shangpa Kagyu founder, Khyungpo Neljor’s parinirvāṇa (passing away), as well as the 50th golden jubilee of the main stupa in Sonada monastery, built by H.E. Kalu Rinpoche in 1972 (as announced on the monastery FB page), I offer a new translation of one of his songs, “Dākinī is Mind!” together with a brief overview of his songs in general, collated and printed by the First Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye in a collection of songs, within his Treasury of Instructions (Dam Ngag Dzo). 

My own connection with Shangpa Kagyu started (this life) first during my postgraduate degree, when I translated Jetsun Tāranātha’s Commentary on the Heart Sutra (LTWA, 2017). Then, in 2018, when I received the Five Tantric Deities Empowerment of Shangpa Kagyu at Bokar Rinpoche’s monastery, for more on that see here. Then more recently, this year when I attended the Niguma Yoga events taught by 2nd Kalu Rinpoche in Bhutan and India, see here. I also had the good fortune to visit the stupa at Sonada monastery a couple of times, during my visits to Siliguri in 2018 and 2020 (although when I visited there did not seem to be much activity at the monastery itself, and the current Kalu Rinpoche does not reside, or spend much time there).

In this article, first, I give an introduction to the songs themselves and Jamgon Kongtrul’s efforts at preserving and collating the works of Khyungpo Neljor and other great Shangpa Kagyu teachers (although the spelling and pronunciation is actually Zhangpa, I have kept it as Shangpa as that is the most commonly used).

Second, I offer a new translation of a song sung to Khyungpo Neljor by five dākinīs when he visited Oddiyana. Finally, a short description of how he passed away, based on the Blue Annals.  

I completed this translation and article in the space of a few Earth hours today and dedicate it to leading us all to the realisation that the dākinī is mind!

Music? Lion-Faced Dakini mantra for Lion-Faced Dakini (which cannot be recited or practiced without an empowerment and transmission) also, Gold-Dust Woman by Fleetwood Mac, Killer Queen by Queen,  Listen to the Lion by Van Morrison and Flying Dakini by Yungchen Lhamo.

Written and translated by Adele Tomlin, 4th December 2022. 

Jamgon Kongtrul’s collation and preservation of Khungpo Neljor’s works and songs

There are two particular Tibetan Buddhist masters who were very important in collecting and preserving the works of Khyungpo Neljor and Jetsun Tāranātha (more on that in another article). The efforts and importance of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye however is certainly extremely important.

In terms of the collected works by Jamgon Kongtrul, Chapter 8, Volume Eleven of Kongtrul’s Treasury of Instructions, was translated into English by Lama Sarah Harding and published this year[i]. In the Introduction to the book Harding explains the founder, Khungpo Neljor’s life using a quote form Jamgon Kongtrul’s Shangpa Dharma Directory:

“The Shangpa tradition takes its name from the area where a monastery was established (ca. 1021) by the Tibetan who is considered the founder, the “charioteer,” of the order. This was the great adept, or mahāsiddha, Khyungpo Naljor Tsultrim Gönpo (978–1127? or 1050–1140?), whose dates have not yet been satisfactorily resolved.  In his Shangpa Dharma Directory, Kongtrul states:

The one carrying the name of Great Shangpa Master, Great Adept Khyungpo Naljor, attended innumerable learned and accomplished gurus of India and Tibet. In particular, in the south and west and all over India he received countless instructions from one hundred and fifty learned and accomplished gurus. Of those, there were thirteen specially exalted gurus, four root gurus, and the incomparable pair of ḍākinīs of timeless awareness. When he had all of their inestimable explanations and dharma practices, he established a seat at Zhangzhong Monastery in Shang in [Tsang] Yeru. Thus, he became known by the name of the Great Lama Shangpa. The dharma cycles taught by him carry the name Shangpa Dharma, and the lineage of those who uphold them is also renowned as the Glorious Shangpa Precept Lineage (Shangpa Kagyu).

What that great adept Khyungpo Naljor received earlier and later in India and Tibet, and what he taught to his disciples—that entirety of innumerable dharma teachings—these days cannot be listed even by name. That guru had six capable spiritual heirs and eighty thousand [disciples who became] spiritual mentors, and more who established the theory and practice and spread the dharma. However, other than a few special vital points of the esoteric instructions on practice, we don’t see the [whole] precept tradition of the lineage. Only a very rough outline can be gleaned from the great adept Khyungpo’s own life story.”

[N.B I have not checked this translation with the Tibetan original].

Khyungpo Neljor, founder of Shangpa Kagyu (1050/90-1127)

Khyungpo Neljor himself also composed his own autobiographical song (which was translated and included in Kongtrul’s Ocean of Blessings Songs collection (2003: 61-62), see endnote for re-print of that[ii]. The Songs are discussed further below.

The heart of the Shangpa Kagyu tradition, which is known as the Five Golden Dharmas of the Glorious Shangpa (Shangs pa gser chos lnga) are said to have been given that name because of the enormous amount of gold that Khyungpo Neljor offered in order to receive them. They are described using the metaphor of a tree:

  1. The roots are Niguma’s Six Dharmas (rtsa ba ni gu chos drug).
  2. The trunk is Amulet Mahāmudrā (sdong po phyag chen ga’u ma).
  3. The branches are the Three Aspects of Bringing onto the Path (yal kha lam khyer rnam gsum).
  4. The flowers are the White and Red Khecarī (me tog mkha’ spyod dkar dmar).
  5. The fruit is Immortality and Infallibility (’bras bu ’chi med ’chugs med).

 

Image of the Five Golden Dharmas of Shangpa Kagyu (reproduced from Harding 2022))

Matthew Kapstein also uses the metaphor of the tree to describe how practitioners from all the main traditions of Tibetan Buddhism hold its lineage:

“The Shangs-pa lineage like some vine that adorns a whole forest without being able to stand by itself may strike one who follows its twists and turns as being virtually an omnipresent element in Tibetan Buddhism.”

The Shangpa Kagyu lineage has continued to the present day mainly through the efforts of the Karma Kagyu lineage teachers, such as 16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje, the former Kalu Rinpoche and Bokar Rinpoche. Interestingly, both Kalu and Bokar Rinpoche were also lineage holders and practitioners of the Dro Kalacakra tradition, for more on that see here and here.

The former Kalu Rinpoche and  Bokar Rinpoche on pilgrimage to the Ganges in 1983.
16th Karmapa, Rigpe Dorje was one of the main lineage holders of the Shangpa Kagyu in the 20th Century, along with HE Kalu Rinpoche (seated centre) and HE Bokar Rinpoche (bottom left).
Two current Shangpa Kagyu lineage holders: HE 12th Gyaltsab RInpoche with the current incarnation of Bokar Rinpoche at Bokar monastery in 2018, during his bestowal of the Five Tantric Deities empowerment of Shangpa Kagyu, which I was fortunate to be able to attend in person.

The other main English-language translator of Jamgon Kongtrul’s works on Shangpa Kagyu (again sponsored by Tsadra Foundation and Snow Lion Publications) is Hugh Thompson (Ngawang Zangpo), who previously served as a translator for the former Kalu Rinpoche. Among these are Jamgon Kongtrul’s Retreat Manual, Sacred Ground and Timeless Rapture.  Interestingly, none of these publications have forewords by the tulku of Jamgon Kongtrul himself.  It is the latter collection of songs, Timeless Rapture that form the focus of the rest of this short article.   

OCEAN OF BLESSINGS MEANINGFUL TO HEAR: VAJRA VERSES AND SONGS OF SHANGPA KAGYU
The original Tibetan collection and its editions
First two folio pages from an edition of the Ocean of Blessings Meaningful to Hear

Jamgon Kongtrul’s other important collection on the Shangpa Kagyu is entitled the Ocean of Blessings Meaningful to Hear: Vajra Verses and Songs of the Glorious Shangpa Kagyu (dpal ldan shangs pa bka’ brgyud kyi do ha rdo rje’i tshig rkang dang mgur dbyangs phyogs gcig tu bsgrigs pa thos pa don ldan byin rlabs rgya mtsho), which are songs about and by Shangpa Kagyu masters, such as Khyungpo Neljor.   

The songs collection is not a huge text, numbering around 100 folio pages. In his colophon, Kongtrul writes that “he, Karma Ngawang Yonten Gyatso, composed the text at a hut at Tsadra Rinchen Drag”[iii].

There appear to be four editions of the songs collection available online at BDRC, two are contained in editions of Kongtrul’s Treasury of Instructions, two are contained in Shangpa Kagyu collections (one of which was edited by the former Kalu Rinpoche and published by his monastery in Siliguri) [iv].

First English-Language translation, Sea of Blessings (2003)

In 2003, Hugh Thompson (Ngawang Zangpo)’s translation of this text, entitled Timeless Rapture: Inspired Verses of the Shangpa Masters, was published.  In my view, Thompson inaccurately translates the title of the Collection itself as Sea of Blessings, however the Tibetan word, gyamtso, means ocean and is much vaster than a sea, as English-language speakers will know[v].  Thompson does not cite the different printed editions of the collection available either, so his translation is not a critical edition. Nonetheless as a first translation of this important collection of songs, it is extremely valuable and a real service to Buddha Dharma.

The Introduction compares the English-language publication of the songs in significance to the vast collection of Karma Kagyu songs: Rain of Wisdom (first translated and published by Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche), stating that “It can be used in personal study to provide advice and inspiration.  More specifically, however, it has a place of honour in the tradition’s ritual life. During the liturgy honouring the masters of the Shangpa lineage with offering and praise, participants recite this text aloud along with a separate collection of biographical poems.”

Thompson explains the debt owed to Kongtrul in his Introduction as to how the songs and transmissions of the Shangpa are held by all the main Tibetan Buddhist traditions:

“During one of my visits with probably the most wonderful woman alive, Khandro Tsering Chödron, I foolishly asked her, “Wasn’t Jamyang Kyentsé Chökyi Lodrö (her late husband, famously nonsectarian) a lama of the Sakya tradition?” It was the only time I ever saw her taken aback, “Oh!” she said, startled, “He wasn’t that sort of lama!” In the same way, I think Niguma and Sukasiddhi would tell us, if we had ears to hear, “Ours isn’t that sort of lineage.” On the other hand, if you want to find a Shangpa lama to further your connection with this lineage, you may find one where you least expect— in the person of your chosen spiritual master whom you know as a lama of another school. Many lamas from all traditions have received and practiced these meditations.

In part, this is due to the work of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé (1813—1899), who compiled these songs. When he gathered the major meditations of Tibet’s eight lineages of meditation into a collection called The Treasury of Profound Instructions, he included all the Shangpa empowerments and meditations, as well as the verses contained in this book. The Treasury of Profound Instructions is passed on regularly in the Himalayan region; thus lamas from all schools have received  the Shangpa transmission.”

Khandro Tsering Chödron, wife and consort of Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro

At the beginning of this collection, Jamgon Kongtrul introduces the Shangpa masters’ songs as follows (Thompson (2003: 32)):

“The garland of jewels who appear in this Oral Instruction Lineage have reached the citadel of the mind’s nature, the body of ultimate enlightenment. The radiant splendour of their meditative experience and realization overflows from their mouths, expressing their profound enlightenment as vajra songs. The laughter of these songs of realization reverberates throughout space to nourish adepts’ faith and devotion; to strike with the riding crop of encouragement to turn away from attachment and to foster renunciation; to augment meditative experience; to instil firm confidence in realization’s wisdom; to please the spiritual heroes and dākinīs; to lead others to freedom along the narrow passage through obstacles and impediments; and to satisfy infinite numbers of human and nonhuman beings with the unsurpassable gift of the Teachings.”

Thompson (2003: 30) explains how Kongtrul compiled the songs using the autobiographies all the songs follow a strict seven-syllable structure:

“Songs arise fresh and alive, like sparks. Yet for all their spontaneity, they are highly formal in that they conform to the strict rules of Tibetan poetic structure. For example, the syllables of a seven-syllable line are always related as follows:

1-2/ 3-4/ 5-6-7

Every line follows that scheme. When the number of syllables increases, the line will inevitably hold an odd number of syllables, in the same pattern of pairs of syllables joined in juxtaposition or in unison, ending with a trio of syllables. Every song in this collection follows that rule, except one in six-syllable lines, and Kongtrul notes the single exception in his text.”

Following prayers of supplication to the lineage masters, Kongtrul begins with a song sung by Buddha Vajra Bearer, heard and recorded by Niguma. The songs of this collection generally appear in chronological order, each with a short introduction by Jamgon Kongtrul.

Thompson’s translation of Jamgon Kongtrul’s Shangpa Kagyu Songs Collection is worth reading in full. However, as most people will not have the time (or even inclination) to do so, I have written this short overview of the collected songs, and done a new translation of the five dakini song to Khyungpo Neljor (published with the Tibetan, which is absent in Thompson’s translation) and re-published his song when he passed away into parinirvana.

“KNOW THE DAKINIS TO BE YOUR MIND!” THE FIVE DAKINI’S SONG TO KHYUNGPO NELJOR
Lion-Faced Dakini (Senge Dongma) surrounded by four dakinis

The song of the five dākinīs to Khyungpo Neljor involves Lion-Faced Dakini, and four other dakinis, singing a song to him, with the repeated phrase ‘Know the dakini to be your mind!’. I have based my translation on the Schechen  edition of the Songs (p.492)[vi]:

“Kyungpo Neljor went to Oddiyana and there received empowerment into the five exalted female deities’ sacred circle. Further, Lion-Faced Dakini, surrounded by dākinīs of the four classes, sang this vajra song:

རྡོ་རྗེ་མཁའ་འགྲོས་བར་ཆད་སྲུང༌། །རིན་ཆེན་མཁའ་འགྲོས་མི་ནོར་སྤེལ། །

པདྨ་མཁའ་འགྲོས་བུད་མེད་སྡུད། །ཕྲིན་ལས་མཁའ་འགྲོས་ལས་ཀུན་སྒྲུབ། །

Vajra Dakini protects from  obstacles.

Jewel Dakini increases human and material riches.

Lotus Dakini gathers females.

Activity Dakini accomplishes all activities.

འདོད་སྲེད་ཆགས་པའི་དབང་སོང་བས། ། བདག་ཉིད་མཁའ་འགྲོའི་དབང་དུ་སོང༌། །

ཕྱི་རོལ་མི་འདོད་གང་ཡང་འབྱུང༌། ། ཌཱ་ཀི་རང་གི་སེམས་སུ་ཤེས། །

Falling under the power of desire, lust and craving,

You fall under the power of the dākinīs themselves.

Whatever unwanted external events arise.

Know the dākinīs as your own mind!

སེམས་ཀྱི་དེ་ཉིད་ཤེས་པ་དང༌། །

སེམས་ཉིད་མི་རྟོག་རྡོ་རྗེ་སྟེ། །

རྡོ་རྗེ་ཌཱ་ཀིས་བར་ཆད་སྲུང༌། །

Knowledge of mind-itself and non-conceptual mind-itself, is the vajra;

Vajra dākinī protects you from obstacles.

ཆོག་ཤེས་དགོས་མེད་རིན་ཆེན་གཏེར། །

རིན་ཆེན་མཁའ་འགྲོས་དགོས་འདོད་སྒྲུབ། །

Satisfaction without wants is a precious jewel.

Jewel dākinī accomplishes all your wants and wishes.

ཆགས་བྲལ་མི་རྟོག་པདྨ་སྟེ། །

པདྨ་ཌཱ་ཀིས་མུ་ཏྲ་སྡུད། །

Absence of lust and non-conceptuality is the lotus.

Lotus dākinī attracts the mudra [of activity].

སྐྱེ་འགགས་མེད་པ་ཀརྨ་སྟེ།

ལས་ཀྱི་ཌཱ་ཀིས་ཕྲིན་ལས་སྒྲུབ། །

Karma does not arise or cease.

Activity dākinī accomplishes all activities.

དེ་ལྟར་མ་ཤེས་རྣལ་འབྱོར་པས། །

བསྐལ་བར་བསྒྲུབ་ཀྱང་འགྲུབ་མི་འགྱུར། །

Due to not understanding that, yogis

Even if practicing for eons, will not become accomplished.

དེ་ཕྱིར་མཁའ་འགྲོ་རང་སེམས་སུ། །

ཤེས་པ་གནད་ཀྱི་མཆོག་ཡིན་ནོ། །

Therefore, the dākinī as mind

Is the supreme, essential knowledge.

ཞེས་པ་ལ་སོགས་འཆར་པ་རྣམ་པ་གསུམ་དང༌། འདུ་བ་རྣམ་གསུམ་གྱི་གདམས་ངག་རྣམས་གསུངས་སོ། །

The dākinīs also gave him the profound instructions of the three rains and

the three gatherings.

Khyungpo Neljor’s parinirvana

Khyungpo Neljor died in 1127. According to Chapter Nine, of the Blue Annals by Zhonnu Pel:

“At the time of his death he was at Zhang Zhong monastery in Kham and advised to keep his body in gold and silver receptacle so that this monastery would equal Vajrāsana, but Khams pa monks cremated his remains, and images of the tantric gods of the five classes were recovered (from the ashes). This is a strong comparison to make. One wonders, if the monks intentionally didn’t follow his advice. It almost seems that his attraction to pure metals was taking over and was to be carried into his afterlife, if taken seriously.”

SOURCES/FURTHER READING

Tibetan texts

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye:

Ocean of Blessings Meaningful to Hear: Vajra Songs and Verses of the Glorious Shangpa Kagyu (dpal ldan shangs pa bka’ brgyud kyi do ha rdo rje’i tshig rkang dang mgur dbyangs phyogs gcig tu bsgrigs pa thos pa don ldan byin rlabs rgya mtsho). The Treasury of Profound Instructions,vol. 12, pp. 463-560. Katmandu: Shechen Publications, 1999.

Garland of Udumvara Flowers: Supplications to the Lives of a Wonderful Lineage of Jewels, the Masters of the Glorious Shangpa Instruction Lineage (dpal ldan shangs pa bka’ brgyud kyi ngo mtshar rin chen brgyud pa’i rnam thar gsol ‘ba ‘debs pa u dumba ra’i phreng ba). The Treasury of Profound Instructions,vol. 12, pp. 389-448. Katmandu: Shechen Publications, 1999.

Catalog of Shangpa Texts: The Beryl Key (dpal ldan shangs pa bka’ brgyud kyi gser chos rin po che’i mdzod yongs su phye ba’i dkar chag bedurya’I lde’u mig) The Collected Works of Jamgon Kongtrul, Vol. 6, pp. 619-670. Katmandu:Shechen Publications, 2002.

The Flower of Faith (rje btsun rin po che’i rnam thar gsol ‘debs kha skong 397 dad pa’i me tog). The Treasury of Profound Instructions, vol. 12, pp. 453-456.Katmandu: Shechen Publications, 1999.

English-language sources

Roerich, George N. 1978. Translator of Gö Lotsawa Zhonnu Pal’s The Blue Annals. New Dehli: Motilal Banarsidass.

Chapter 9 of Blue Annals

Gardner, Alex. Khyungpo Neljor, Treasury of Lives biography.

Harding, Sarah. 2002. Shangpa Kagyu: The Tradition of Khyungpo Neljor. The Tradition of the Eight Lineages of the Profound Treasury of Instructions. Volume 11 by Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye. Snow Lion Publications.

Kapstein, Matthew. 1980. “The Shangs-pa bKa’-brgyud: An Unknown Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism,” in Tibetan Studies in Honour of Hugh Richardson: Proceedings of the International Seminar on Tibetan Studies. Edited by MichaelAris and Aung San Suu Kyi. Warminster, England: Aris and Phillips.

Thompson, Hugh (Zangpo, Ngawang):

2001. Sacred Ground. Ithaca, N.Y.: Snow Lion Publications, 2001.

2003 Timeless Rapture: Inspired Verses of the Shangpa Masters, compiled by Jamgon Kongtrul. Snow Lion Publications.

Tomlin, Adele:

Jetsun Tāranātha, Jonang, Shangpa Kagyu, Kalu Rinpoche and the White Hat Karmapa, Tsa Tsa Rinpoche

Tāranātha Text used for the Five Tantric Deities of Shangpa Kagyu Empowerment at Bokar Monastery today

THE YOGA OF LADY NIGUMA AS COMPILED BY JETSUN TARANATHA AND PRESENTED BY 2ND KALU RINPOCHE: Niguma Yoga presentations in Bhutan and India by 2nd Kalu Rinpoche; and textual and historical background

Part Two: Kagyu masters of the Jamgon Kongtrul lineage of Dro/Jonang Kālacakra

BOKAR RINPOCHE PARANIRVANA ANNIVERSARY, THE KALACAKRA RELIC STUPA AND KARMA KAGYU KALACAKRA LINEAGE

Lion-Faced Ḍākinī Dakini Translations page 

 


[i] Harding (2022) writes in her Introduction: “The Treasury of Precious Instructions is, in some ways, the epitome of Kongtrul’s intention. He first conceived of the project around 1870, as always in close consultation with his spiritual friend and mentor Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892). The two of them, along with other great masters, such as Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa, Mipam Gyatso, and Ponlop Loter Wangpo, were active in an eclectic trend in which the preservation of the texts of Tibetan Buddhism was paramount. It was with Khyentse’s encouragement and collaboration that Kongtrul had created The Treasury of Knowledge—his incredible summation of all that was to be known—and compiled the anthologies of The Treasury of Kagyu Mantra and The Treasury of Precious Hidden Teachings. This next treasury expanded the scope by aiming to collect in one place the most important instructions of all the main practice lineages.

Kongtrul employed a scheme for organizing the vast array of teachings that flourished, or floundered, in Tibet during his time into the Eight Great Chariots of the practice lineages (sgrub brgyud shing rta chen po brgyad), or eight lineages that are vehicles of attainment. He based this on a much earlier text by Sherap Özer (Skt. Prajñārasmi, 1518–1584). The structure and contents of that early text indicate that the seeds of the so-called nonsectarian movement (ris med) of the nineteenth century in eastern Tibet had already been planted and just needed cultivation. The organizing principle of the scheme was to trace the lineages of the instructions for religious practice that had come into Tibet from India. This boiled down to eight “charioteers”—individuals who could be identified as the conduits between India and Tibet and who were therefore the sources of the practice lineages, all equally valid in terms of origin and comparable in terms of practice. This scheme of eight practice lineages became a kind of paradigm for the nonsectarian approach championed by Kongtrul and his colleagues.

The Treasury of Precious Instructions implements this scheme in a tangible way by collecting the crucial texts and organizing them around those eight lineages. These may be summarized as follows:

1. The Nyingma tradition derives from the transmissions of Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra during the eighth century, along with the former’s illustrious twenty-five disciples (rje ’bangs nyer lnga) headed by the sovereign Trisong Detsen.

2. The Kadam tradition derives from Atiśa (982–1054) and his Tibetan disciples headed by Dromtön Gyalwai Jungne (1004–1063).

3. The Sakya tradition, emphasizing the system known as the “Path with Its Result,” derives from Virūpa, Dombhi Heruka, and other mahāsiddhas, and passes through Gayadhara and his Tibetan disciple Drokmi Lotsāwa Śākya Yeshe (992–1072).

4. The Marpa Kagyu tradition derives from the Indian masters Saraha, Tilopa, Nāropa, and Maitrīpa, along with the Tibetan Marpa Chökyi Lodrö (1000?–1081?).

5. The Shangpa Kagyu tradition derives from the ḍākinī Niguma and her Tibetan disciple Khyungpo Naljor Tsultrim Gönpo of Shang.

6. Pacification and Severance derive from Padampa Sangye (d. 1117) and his Tibetan successor, Machik Lapkyi Drönma (ca. 1055–1143).

7. The Six-Branch Yoga of the Kālacakra Tantra derives from Somanātha and his Tibetan disciple Gyijo Lotsāwa Dawai Özer during the eleventh century and was maintained preeminently through the lineages associated with Zhalu and Jonang.

8. The Approach and Attainment of the Three Vajras derives from the revelations of the deity Vajrayoginī, compiled by the Tibetan master Orgyenpa Rinchen Pal (1230–1309) during his travels in Oḍḍiyāna.”

[ii] Khyungpo Neljor’s autobiographical song, contained in Kongtrul’s collection (Thompson/Zangpo 2003:61):

“To spiritual masters, deities, dakinis, and protectors

I, Kyungpo Naljor, respectfully bow.

To help lineage holders of future generations,

I will relate a portion of my life story. Listen respectfully.

This humble monk was born in Gangkar Da, at Nyémo,

In the Kyungpo family, a clan of nobles.

My father’s name was Kyungyal Takyé;

My mother, Goza Tashi Kyi.

When I entered her womb,

My parents and the people of my homeland became happy.

I left my mother’s womb in the Tiger year.

At that time, the accomplished Indian master Amogha foretold:

This child, a reincarnate master, will travel to India.

He will collect the heart-essence of all scholars and accomplished

masters

And lead beings to spiritual maturity and liberation.

He will guide his disciples with many emanations.

He will proclaim the Great Way’s essence beyond extremes

And sound to the ten directions the lion’s roar

Of the ultimate tantric teachings of indivisible bliss and

emptiness.

His body is that of Wheel of Supreme Bliss;

His speech, Mahamaya personified;

His mind, glorious Vajra Creator of Delight;

His sublime place of emanation, Matrix of Mystery;

And his secret place that holds bliss, Slayer of Lord of Death.

He will not only embody these deities’ sacred circles

But will actually manifest them to his disciples.

Moreover, he will transform himself into various other deities

And guide countless numbers of difficult beings.

He will live for one hundred fifty years.

At the end of his life, as his final deed,

He will demonstrate many signs and miraculous displays

And depart to Blissful Pure Land.

He will attain enlightenment in that land praised by all buddhas

And turn the wheel of the Great Way Teachings.

All disciples of future generations who have faith in him

Will travel to that buddha’s pure land: have no doubt of this!

This said, the accomplished master left for India,

Flying like a bird through the sky.

When I turned five, my parents related this prophecy to me.

By the age of ten, I was proficient in writing and calculation.

At twelve, following my family’s tradition,

I learned Bön mind teachings.

[Later] I learned Great Completion and Great Seal.

Then, without material needs, I carried gems and gold powder

And underwent hardships without concern for my precious life

To travel seven times to Nepal and India.

I approached one hundred fifty Indian scholars,

Among whom fifty were particularly learned and accomplished.

Four were my especially exalted root spiritual masters;

Two were wisdom dakinis who received teachings

Directly from enlightenment’s perfect rapture, the sixth Buddha Vajra

Bearer.

I pleased them, received their ultimate teachings,

Resolved my misunderstandings, meditated single-mindedly,

And attained two forms of accomplishment—common and supreme.

This has been a short account of my life: listen respectfully!

[iii] karma ngag dbang yon tan rgya mtsho blo gros mtha’ yas pa’i sdes dpal de bI ko Ti tsA ‘dra rin chen brag gi dben khrod du ‘du bgyis pa dpal ldan shangs pa bka’ brgyud kyi ring lugs dri ma med pa phyogs dus kun tu dar zhing rgyas pa’i rgyur gyur cig dge legs ‘phel.

[iv]  Full citation of the different editions of the Songs Collection is: ʼJam mgon kong sprul blo gros mthaʼ yas, editor. “dPal ldan shangs pa bkaʼ brgyud kyi do ha rdo rjeʼi tshig rkang dang mgur dbyangs phyogs gcig tu bsgrigs pa thos pa don ldan byin rlabs rgya mtsho.” gDams ngag mdzod, vol. 12, Shechen publications, 1999, pp. 471–570. Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC), purl.bdrc.io/resource/MW23605_BAA64D.  

  ʼJam mgon kong sprul blo gros mthaʼ yas. “Do ha rdo rjeʼi tshig rkang dang mgur dbyangs phyogs gcig tu bsgrigs pa thos pa don ldan byin rlabs rgya mtsho.” gDams ngag mdzod, edited by ʼJam mgon kong sprul blo gros mthaʼ yas, vol. 12, Lama Ngodrup And Sherab Drimey, 1979–1981, pp. 467–564. Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC), purl.bdrc.io/resource/MW20877_957B58.

  ʼJam mgon kong sprul blo gros mthaʼ yas. “Shangs pa bkaʼ brgyud kyi do ha dang mgur dbyangs phyogs sgrig.” dPal ldan shangs pa bkaʼ brgyud kyi ʼdon cha nyer mkho, vol. 1, Konchhog Lhadrepa, 1996, pp. 325–538. Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC), purl.bdrc.io/resource/MW1KG3724_B67090.

  Kar lu rin po che, editor. “Shangs pa bkaʼ brgyud kyi do ha rdo rjeʼi tshig rkang dang mgur dbyangs phyogs bsgrigs thos pa don ldan byin rlabs rgya mtsho.” dPal ldan shangs paʼi chos skor rnam lngaʼi rgya gzhung, vol. 5, 199AD, pp. 229–442. Buddhist Digital Resource Center (BDRC), purl.bdrc.io/resource/MW23922_F738F3.

[v] In fact, Thompson (2003: 34) goes even further and remarks about the title of the collection :”I find that title amusing, for most Tibetans over the centuries, including Jamgon Kongtrul himself, never saw an ocean. Those who have left Tibet recently and have seen the sea have been amazed and sometimes intimidated by its size and power.” Indeed, which is why the sea is not a suitable translation! One does not need to physically see an ocean to understand its metaphorical meaning though and I think that Kongtrul’s mind and visions cannot really be compared to ordinary Tibetans seeing the ocean for the first time.

[vi] yang o rgyan tu phebs nas rje btsun ma lha lnga’i dkyil ‘khor du dbang zhus pa dang*/_DA ki ma seng ge’i gdong pa can la DA ki ma sde bzhis bskor nas rdo rje’i glu ‘di ltar blangs so/_/rdo rje mkha’ ‘gros bar chad srung*/_/rin chen mkha’ ‘gros mi nor spel/_/pad+ma mkha’ ‘gros bud med sdud/_/phrin las mkha’ ‘gros las kun sgrub/_/’dod sred chags pa’i dbang song bas/_/bdag nyid mkha’ ‘gro’i dbang du song*/_/phyi rol mi ‘dod gang yang ‘byung*/_/DA ki rang gi sems su shes/_/sems kyi de nyid shes pa dang*/_/sems nyid mi rtog rdo rje ste/_/rdo rje DA kis bar chad srung*/_/chog shes dgos med rin chen gter/_/rin chen mkha’ ‘gros dgos ‘dod sgrub/_/chags bral mi rtog pad+ma ste/_/pad+ma DA kis mu tra sdud/_/skye ‘gags med pa karma ste/_/las kyi DA kis phrin las sgrub/_/de ltar ma shes rnal ‘byor pas/_/bskal bar bsgrub kyang ‘grub mi ‘gyur/_/de phyir mkha’ ‘gro rang sems su/_/shes pa gnad kyi mchog yin no/_/zhes pa la sogs ‘char pa rnam pa gsum dang*/_’du ba rnam gsum gyi gdams ngag rnams gsungs so/_/de nas bla ma lha dang mkha’ ‘gro rnams kyis lung bstan pa ltar tshogs pa’i mthar thug khri tsho brgyad la lo du mar chos bstan/

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