A KAGYU NEW YEAR FESTIVE FEAST OF DHARMA DELIGHTS! Full transmission of Gampopa’s Collected works by 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche and 17th Karmapa’s teaching on the Thirty Verses by Vasubandhu

“Read well the ‘Collected Works of Gampopa‘, the crown jewel of all the Kagyu. These teachings on the union of Kadampa and Māhamudrā are more wondrous and greater in blessings than other works and termas. The Kagyu masters of the past all received siddhi through these profound teachings.  Meeting the Buddha’s teachings through the compassion of the guru who is incomparably kind is a great fortune. If Masters and disciples who long for the Kagyu Dharma, do as taught in Gampopa’s Collected Works, experience and realization will dawn.”

—Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol (1781-1851)

“In summary, even though Gampopa is no longer alive, the teachings he left behind are like his representative. So, we should regard them as very sacred and important. Normally, if we hear about a talking statue, we think that’s really sacred and important. However, with words in texts that have come to us directly from great masters, we wrap them in cloth without paying much attention, put them in a dusty place, or on a shrine. With Dharma texts we wouldn’t toss them in a rubbish bin, but it is almost like doing that.”

—17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje (Teachings on Gampopa in January 2021)

“We think that the Mind-Only (Cittamatra) is just as it appears to the Middle Way (Madhyamaka) proponents. This is a rather dictatorial way of looking at it. It seems the Tibetans have not really treated the Middle Way that objectively or fairly. That is how I see it…..In brief, the situation that occurred is that the five Dharmas of Maitreya spread in Tibet, but Mind-Only did not. However, if we look at the international scholarly consensus, the five Dharmas are Mind-Only texts. The situation in Tibet was like that. The reason is because the Tibetans could not decide if the texts were Mind-Only or Middle Way. So, this is another reason why the Mind-Only did not flourish.”

—17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje (Teachings on Thirty Verses in February 2022)


For the full moon today, and for the recent announcement that for the annual Kagyu Guncho (winter debate), from 26th December to 13th January 2023, HE 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche will bestow again the full transmission of Je Gampopa’s Collected Works, I am re-publishing information and a link to the article I wrote this year about Gampopa’s Collected Works, detailing its editions, contents and so on. The article was composed during 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche’s previous transmission of Gampopa’s works in May 2022 (which I received online).

This year, the oral transmission will be held from 26th December until 13th January 2023 at the Bokar monastery Institute, Chimmey Ling, in Damdim, West Bengal, India.  An area of hills, mountains and lush green tea gardens.  The location is not far from the “gateway to Sikkim” city of Siliguri/Bagdogra, about a one and a half-hour car or train journey.  Several flights and trains go to Siliguri directly from major cities like Delhi and so on. Here are some photos of the Bokar Institute, including this stunning Tara statue surrounded by 21 Tara wall paintings below (taken from this FB post). There are some more photos at the end of this article too.

Following that, from 14th-25th January 2023, HH 17th Karmapa will continue his online teaching on Vasubandhu’s Thirty Verses. Thus, I also give a brief summary of the Karmapa’s prior teachings on that text, with the links for the transcribed teachings I created (based on the Tibetan and English). 

What a New Year festive Dharma treat indeed! For followers of Kagyu, it does not come much better than that 🙂 May we all have the great fortune to hear, study, understand and practice Je Gampopa’s works and realise the view of the ultimate nature of mind and reality, as taught by Maitreya!

Music? Calling the Lama From Afar, beautiful rap and music video Karmapa Khyenno, by Tenzin Dawa Tsona and for the Mind-Only and Mahāmudrā view, Mind Games by John Lennon and Just An Illusion by Imagination.

Originally written and collated by Adele Tomlin, and re-printed here, 7th December 2022.

Je Gampopa’s Collected Works – transmission by 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche
Je Gampopa, student of Milarepa and Kadampa Geshes, and founding forefather of several Kagyu lineages, as well as Mahamudra master

Je Gampopa is considered to be one of the main forefathers of several main Kagyu lineages, including Karma Kagyu, Drigung Kagyu and Drugpa Kagyu.  

The article I wrote about the Collected Works (in May 2022) can be read here. It contains:

  • a compiled list of the extant editions of Gampopa’s Collected Works (together with some images of them) and
  • the first English translation of the outline (with the Tibetan (wylie and script))

I have also written before about Gampopa’s Collected Works, in the context of transcribing the teachings the 17th Karmapa gave in 2021 about the Four Dharmas of Gampopa, see here.  

Je Gampopa with one of his main teachers, Je Milarepa

Je Gampopa is generally known for being a direct student of the yogi Milarepa, but also for his ‘lam-rim’ type text, the Jewel Ornament of Liberation. However, opening up his Collected Works (as Gyeltsab Rinpoche’s transmission this year did) leads to an absolute treasure trove of instructions and information, in particular on guiding Vajrayana practice, tsa-lung, tummo, Mahāmudrā and ultimate views and philosophy.

The majority of the texts in the Collection are instruction manuals on either the Vajrayana yogas or Mahāmudrā.  In addition, the works give an insight into the questions he was asked by some of his most famous students, the 1st Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa (founder of Karma Kagyu) and Pagmo Drupa (root teacher of other Kagyu lineages, such as Drigung and Drugpa Kagyu and so on) and the responses he gave them. 

For those who seek even more detail on the works, I can highly recommend Ulrich Timme Kragh’s Tibetan Yoga and Mysticism – A Textual Study of the Yogas of Naropa and Mahamudra Meditation in the Medieval Tradition of Dags po. (2015) (a 700 page scholarly book) in which there is an outline and extensive analysis of the Collected Works. 

This complete article and outline can be downloaded as a pdf file here: THE CROWN JEWEL OF ALL KAGYU THE COLLECTED WORKS OF GAMPOPA. Apologies for any errors it was produced in a very short space of time. May we all have the good fortune to hear, read and understand Gampopa’s Collected Works! 

In terms of other articles on Je Gampopa, see the website section here. Articles include the following:


‘SIMULTANEOUSLY-ARISEN’, LIKE SUN AND SUNLIGHT: Dagpo Gampopa on the meaning of ‘simultaneously-arisen’, ‘white panacea’ and Dzogchen in the context of Mahāmudrā

NEW TRANSLATION: Supplication to Dagpo Kagyu; by 15th Karmapa and new website section on Gampopa

The Thirty Verses of Vasubandhu and 17th Karmapa on Mind-Only in Tibet and the Buddha-Nature school

In January 2022 this year, the 17th Karmapa began an online teaching on the origins and history of the Mind-Only, or Yogācāra school of philosophy. as part of a two-week teaching on the Indian Buddhist monk, Vasabandhu’s Mind-Only text, the Triṃśikā-vijñaptimātratā (唯識三十論頌Wéishí sānshí lùn sòng), also known simply as the Triṃśikā or by its English translation Thirty Verses on Appearance Only. This text is a brief poetic treatise composed in the 4th or 5th century CE and became one of the core texts for the Yogācāra school of Mahāyāna Buddhism. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this viewpoint is considered to be the other main Mahāyāna view, apart from that of Madhyamaka. The English translation (by Khenpo David Karma Chophel) of the Thirty Verses text used for the 17th Karmapa’s teachings, can be downloaded for free, here:

Indian Buddhist monk and master, Vasubandhu

For the first four days, the Karmapa spoke in detail about the Indian origins of the Mind-Only school and its main Indian proponents, Vasubhandu and Asanga.  Then, the 17th Karmapa described how the Mind-Only school came into Tibet and the way it was inaccurately (and unfairly) interpreted by many Tibetans. For example, in this teaching he explained that:

“The texts of the Mind-Only school spread in Tibet and there has been continuous study and research of them from ancient times to present. However, In Tibet, from the time that Buddhism spread to Tibet until the present, no independent Mind -only school has ever appeared. It is doubtful that there is even one Tibetan master who asserted that the Mind Only was their position. In particular, in the later transmission, Chandrakirti’s Middle Way Consequentialist school spread widely and because of the imprint it made, they have seen Mind-Only as opponents and not concordant with the Middle Way. This idea has been so strong that there have been few who have taken any interest or responsibility in finding out about the scriptures or logic in the Mind-Only. This is rather dictatorial way of looking at it. It seems like the Tibetans have not really treated the Middle Way that fairly. That is how I see it. He spoke on how this led to even the Jonang (with their Zhen-tong view of emptiness), to label their view the Great Madhyamaka, when in fact the view was not really Madhyamaka at all, but that of Mind-only (Yogacara) and that the texts they relied on, such as the five Dharmas of Maitreya, were Mind-Only texts.”  

The Karmapa brilliantly suggested that one way around this philosophical division was to develop a third category, that of the ‘Buddha Nature’ school, subverting the need for the so-called division between rang-tong (empty-of self) and zhen-tong (empty-of other) and bringing it back to its roots on the Buddha Nature (Tathagatagarbha) view contained in those Sutras and their commentaries, as well as in the five Dharmas of Maitreya.

These teachings were the first time not only a senior Tibetan Buddhist master and Head of a Lineage, but also a Karmapa gave a detailed overview and description of this topic, citing in detail the Indian, Tibetan and Chinese source texts and founders. The 17th Karmapa also stated that he had not seen any research [in Tibetan] on how the Mind–Only spread in Tibet and that is why he wanted to present his own overview and ideas about it. Here are the links below to the teachings I had the time to transcribe:


‘MIND-ONLY’ PHILOSOPHY IN TIBET (PART I): Translation of Mind-Only texts into Tibetan, reasons why the Mind-Only School did not spread in Tibet, inaccurate explanations in Tibet of the Mind-Only view; and the classification of the five Dharmas of Maitreya (17th Karmapa teaching, (Day 7)


Myself with the Maitreya Buddha statue at Thikse monastery in Ladakh (2022).
Gyalwang 17th Karmapa with 12th Gyeltsab Rinpoche

More photos of Bokar Shedra Institute are here below (and more can be seen on the Institute’s FB post here).


Leave a Reply