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Entering the Conduct of the Bodhisattvas

Text Sections 130-131

Paltrül Rinpoche, Khenpo Kunpal’s teacher, had studied and realized all the teachings of the Old and New Translation Schools. For him all Buddhist texts [gzhung lugs] were instruction manuals which always benefited his mind [sems la phan ’dogs pa’i gdams ngag]. It is a special feature of Buddhist texts that, if you know how to read them properly, they are all instructions that transform your mind.

Paltrül Rinpoche used to give commentaries on the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra based on the main commentaries of the different schools and also on the root text itself. In the latter part of his life, he based his explanations primarily on the commentary by Ngülchu Thogme Zangpo [dngul chu thogs med bzang po].[1]
Text section 132:

Khenpo Kunpal was present and took notes [zin bris] when Paltrül Rinpoche was teaching the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra based on Ngülchu Thogme Zangpo’s commentary to the great treasure revealer Chokgyur Dechen Zhikpo Lingpa[2] and his sublime lineage children. These chronological notes, recently published by Tarthang Tulku,[3] later became the main basis for Khenpo Kunpal’s own commentary on the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra called ’Drops of Nectar’ [bdud rtsi’i thig pa].[4]

The colophon to this commentary[5] indicates that Khenpo Kunpal also included teachings on the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra that he received later from other sublime students [thugs sras dam pa] of Paltrül Rinpoche such as Öntrül Urgyen Tendzin Norbu [dbon sprul u rgyan bstan ’dzin nor bu]. From Öntrül on two occasions he received teachings on the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra for a period of forty days. Other students of Paltrül Rinpoche also gave Khenpo Kunpal their notes [zin bris] on Paltrül Rinpoche’s teachings.

Thus, Khenpo Kunpal truly preserved Paltrül Rinpoche’s oral explanations [zhal rgyun]. Khenpo Kunpal wrote his commentary in a style that is easy for beginners to understand and beneficial for practice, avoiding scholastic elaborations.

In the context of Paltrül Rinpoche’s oral explanations, the commentary written by Khenpo Thubten Chökyi Drakpa [thub bstan chos kyi grags pa], also known as Minyag Kunzang Sönam [mi nyag kun bzang bsod nams], should be mentioned as well. Minyag Kunzang studied for many years under Paltrül Rinpoche and wrote a very extensive commentary on the first eight chapters[6] of the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra and two commentaries on the ninth chapter.[7]

Khenpo Kunpal says that Paltrül Rinpoche taught the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra for a period of six months at Dzogchen Monastery. Chokgyur Lingpa and members of his family were the most important guests at the teachings.

Chokgyur Lingpa is mentioned in predictions given by Guru Rinpoche in the Padma Katang [pad ma bka’ thang]. Therefore the phrase, who is mentioned in the prophecies, or who has received the vajra-prophecies [rdo rje’i lung gis zin pa] is used. The phrase ’sublime son’ or ’lineage-holding son’ [rigs sras dam pa] refers to Chokgyur Lingpa’s son Tsewang Trakpa [sras tshe dbang grags pa], also known as Wangchuk Dorje [dbang phyug rdo rje], who was present when Paltrül Rinpoche gave the teachings. Also Chokgyur Lingpa’s daughter Könchok Paldrön [sras mo dkon mchog dpal sgron] and Chokgyur Lingpa’s wife, Dega [bde dga’], were present, but Chokgyur Lingpa’s other son, Tsewang Norbu [sras tshe dbang nor bu], did not attend the teachings.

Chokgyur Lingpa’s biographies mention that he visited Dzogchen Monastery and headed a ‘drupchen’ at Urgyen Samtan Chöling[8] when he was 39 years old. He met the fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche [sku phreng bzhi pa], Mingyur Namkhai Dorje [mi ’gyur nam mkha’i rdo rje], to whom he gave empowerments.[9] He then met Paltrül Rinpoche and received from him the complete commentary [khrid rdzogs par gsan pa] on the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra.

They also gave empowerments and teachings to each other and had a mutual relationship of student and teacher to one another.[10] Furthermore, the biography reports that after Chokgyur Lingpa had received the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra from Paltrül, both masters completed the teaching with a non-conceptual dedication and made vast aspriations for the doctrine and beings.[11]

According to Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche,[12] Chokgyur Lingpa and his family stayed for only seven days of the teachings. Prior to the teachings, Chokgyur Lingpa had conferred empowerments of some of his own treasures upon Paltrül Rinpoche.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche stated that the teachings took place at Rudam Orgyen Samten Chöling [ru dam o rgyan bsam gtan chos gling]. Dzogchen Khenpo Chöga and Dzogchen Khenpo Rigdzin Tharchin [rig ’dzin thar phyin] speculate that some of the teachings might have taken place at Orgyen Samten Chöling and some at Śrī Siṃha Shedra.

While staying at Dzogchen Monastery, Chokgyur Lingpa wrote down a terma of Cakrasamvara as a revelation treasure text [gter ma]. He gave the empowerments to Paltrül Rinpoche and authorized him to be the dharma heir to this terma.[13]

Rudam Orgyen Samten Choling,[14] the very first monastery at Dzogchen, was founded in 1685 by the first Dzogchen Rinpoche Pema Rigdzin,[15] when he was 61 years of age, based on a prediction given by the fifth Dalai Lama.[16] At the time of its establishment this monastery focused primarily on meditation and was considered a meditation center [sgrub grva / sgom grva].

The third Dzogchen Rinpoche Ngedon Tendzin Zangpo[17] built a retreat center called ’Sangchen Ngedön Ling’ [sgrub grva gsang chen nges don gling], also known as ’Ogmin Dechen Ling’ [sgrub grva ’og min bde chen gling] next to Dzogchen Monastery. The third Dzogchen Rinpoche put thirteen people in that retreat center and all thirteen attained the rainbow body. They all received and practiced the instruction manual called ’White Path to Liberation’ [khrid yig thar lam dkar po], which was written by the first Dzogchen Rinpoche.

Śrī Siṃha Shedra [śrī siṃha bshad grva / śrī siṃha chos grva] was named after the early master of the Dzogchen lineage, Śrī Siṃha, who had appeared in former times through his magical powers at that particular place in East Tibet, leaving the imprint of his back [sku rjes] in a rock. Later, the three great masters, the fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche [sku phreng bzhi pa] named Mingyur Namkhai Dorje,[18] Gyalse Shenphen Thaye,[19] and Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje[20] conducted ’the earth-claiming ritual’ [sa ’dul] at the very spot where Śrī Siṃha had appeared and left his imprint.

At that time Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje subdued all spirits and demons in the area. With his sword he traced the border within which the shedra was to be constructed. He also prophesied that in the future no obstructors [bgegs] or demons [rgyal ’gong] would be able to enter these premises or cause any harm within them. Then Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje, Mingyur Namkhai Dorje, Gyalse Zhenphen Thaye and Khenchen Sengtruk Pema Tashi [mkhan chen seng phrug pad ma bkra shis] founded Śrī Siṃha Shedra.

Khenchen Sengtruk Pema Tashi was the teacher of Gyalse Zhenphen Thaye. Khenchen Pema Dorje, a student of Gylase Zhenphen Thaye and classmate of Paltrül Rinpoche, became the first main khenpo, the Khenchen Tripa, at Śrī Siṃha Shedra. After Khenchen Pema Dorje, Paltrül Rinpoche (1808-1887) became Khenchen Tripa at Śrī Siṃha. Ju Mipham Rinpoche (1846-1912) also taught at Śrī Siṃha Shedra in the early days. Paltrül Rinpoche taught extensively on the Bodhisattva-caryāvatāra among other texts. These great masters started a lineage of the finest khenpos in East Tibet, thus greatly benefiting the buddha dharma.

In this way, Dzogchen Monastery maintains the three traditions [’khor lo rnam gsum] of monastic activities, meditation and study [bshad sgrub las gsum]. The tradition of monastic activities [bya ba las kyi ’khor lo] is maintained at Rudam Orgyen Samten Chöling Monastery. The tradition of solitary meditation practice [spong ba bsam gtan gyi ’khor lo] is maintained at the Sangchen Ngedön Ling retreat. The tradition of reading, studying and reflecting on the teachings [klog pa thos bsam gyi ’khor lo] is maintained at Śrī Siṃha Shedra.

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- Footnotes:

1.

See dngul chu thogs med ’grel pa.

2.

For biographical notes on the great treasure revealer Chokgyur Lingpa Dechen Zhigpo Lingpa [gter chen mchog gyur bde chen zhig po gling pa] (1829-1870 / 1879??) see Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, pages 841-848; and mchog gling rnam thar 1-3.

3.

See dpal sprul zhal rgyun.

4.

See kun dpal ’grel pa.

5.

See kun dpal ’grel pa (si khron mi rigs edition), pages 813-815.

6.

See mi nyag kun bzang ’grel chen.

7.

See mi nyag kun bzang sher ’grel 1 & 2

8.

mchog gling rnam thar 3 says on page 117: “In his 39th year.” A few lines later it also says: “In the third month [nag pa zla ba / hor zla gsum pa].” Then on page 118 it says: “In the second half of this month [zla ba de’i mar ngo], he acted as the vajra master for the ‘Düpa Do Feast’ [‘dus pa mdo] at Dzogchen Orgyen Samten Choling [rdzogs chen o rgyan bsam gtan chos gling].”

9.

See mchog gling rnam thar 1, pages 396-397.

10.

See mchog gling rnam thar 1, pages 397-398.

11.

See mchog gling rnam thar 1, pages 400.

12.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920-13.2.1996) was a renowned Dzogchen master and a direct descendant of Chokgyur Lingpa’s family lineage.

13.

See dpal sprul rnam thar, folio 15a3-4.

14.

ru dam bsam gtan chos gling

15.

For biographical notes on the first Dzogchen Rinpoche Pema Rigdzin [pad ma rig ’dzin] (1625-1697) see Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, pages 736-737; gu bkra’i chos ’byung, pages 768-782; and zhe chen rgyal tshab chos ’byung, pages 301-303. His incarnation, the second Pema Ringdzin, was Gyurme Tekchok Tendzin [‘gyur med theg mchog bstan ’dzin], born in 1699. For his biography see zhe chen rgyal tshab chos ’byung, pages 303-305.

16.

See gu bkra’i chos ’byung, page 780.

17.

nges don bstan ’dzin bzang po. For his biography see zhe chen rgyal tshab chos ’byung, pages 305-306.

18.

For biographical notes on Mingyur Namkhai Dorje [mi ’gyur nam mkha’i rdo rje], born in 1793, see Masters of Meditation, pages 175-178; and zhe chen rgyal tshab chos ’byung, pages 306-307.

19.

For biographical notes on Gyalse Shenphen Thaye [rgyal sras gzhan phan mtha’ yas], born in 1800, see Masters of Meditation, pages 198-199.

20.

For biographical notes on Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje [mdo mkhyen brtse ye shes rdo rje] (1800-1866) see Masters of Meditation, pages 179-197.

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