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Biography of Yeshe Tsogyal

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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It is a great honor to be here today at the Jaling Buddhist Center.

I am very sorry I could not come here at the previously scheduled time. KTD has a retreat center and the previously scheduled time coincided with Chakrasamvara practice in the three year retreat.

The role of women in Tibetan Buddhism is vast and great. Forty different kings ruled Tibet and both they and their queens have contributed to the welfare of country.

There are four main Tibetan Buddhist traditions and there a number of great yogis and masters in them and an equally number of great yoginis.

In Milarepa's time there was a great woman teacher named Yamapadabum. There are teachings called Chod.

If you have evil thoughts that come into your mind, you should practice Chod.

Although Buddhism came from India, the practice of Chod was not taught there The tradition of Chod was spread in Tibet by Machig Lapdron, and now they are spreading in India from Tibet.

All the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism are contained in the life story of Yeshe Tsogyal, so now I am going to teach about her.

Shakyamuni taught Buddhism in India and prophesied in future there would be a great teacher in Danakosha, which is located in Afghanistan.

This teacher was Guru Padmasambhava. In the prophecy Buddha said he will teach more than me and will be based on the tantric tradition.

Before Guru Padmasambhava taught Tantra it was only practiced by a few. After Guru Padmasambhava, it was widely spread all over the world.

A saying says that Buddha Shakyamuni taught mostly on sutra and Padmasambhava mostly on Tantra. Since then both teachings have been spread widely in the world. According to Buddhism there are four ways of taking birth, from a womb, from an egg, from warmth, and miraculously. Padmasambhava was born miraculously in the middle of a lotus flower.

At that time there was a king named Indrabodhi who was without a son. He made many offering to the needy in order to gain the merit to have a son. He was blind and a prophecy had said when his son came he would be able to see again.

When he heard that Guru Padmasambhava was born in middle of lotus he was happy and went with his retinue and invited him to palace to be his adopted son.

When he did this, his blindness went away. Padmasambhava took the throne of Indrabodhi and served the people for 108 years. Then the Tibetan King Trisong Deutsen invited him to Tibet and he went to teach.

Trisong Deutsen was an emanation of Manjushri and came to establish Buddhism in Tibet.

Yeshe Tsogyal is an incarnation of Dorje Phagmo and was born to help establish Buddhism in Tibet.

She was born in Taiyespa.

Because Yeshe Tsogyal was a bodhisattva she could be in any form or place that she chose. In order to assist Trisong Deutsen, Yeshe Tsogyal she took birth in Tibet.

There were many auspicious signs at her birth. She nursed at a sandalwood tree with a breast. She grew much faster than other children.

She grew in one month as other children grew in a year. When she played with other children she would leave her foot and hand prints on rock. She knew how to read without being taught.

Her father asked her how and she replied I am Yangchenma. She realized the need to escape from samsara and had the mind of bodhicitta.

She was compassionate and made offerings to the needy. She had a sharp mind and understood everything and had a peaceful nature.

She was devoted to the three jewels and practiced meditation. Through her meditation she saw the true nature of existence.

At the age of seven and eight she prayed for the happiness of all sentient beings. She prayed to gain knowledge and wisdom so that she could help others effectively.

She had an extraordinary compassionate mind and whenever anyone saw her they were peaceful and happy.

At the age of thirteen many noblemen requested that she be her bride.

But because of her parents concern for her, they did not give her to any of them. She always said she wanted to learn more and understand how to help others effectively.

She wanted to gain the wisdom that the Buddha had.

Her popularity and the signs at her birth and her great compassion became known throughout Tibet and eventually came to Trisong Deutsen.

He sent a minister to her home and asked them to send their daughter to the king.

When she heard of this request, she ran away from home to a remote place where she took off all her jewelry, crushed them to dust and threw them in the ten directions.

She prayed to the Buddhas and bodhisattvas to remove the obstacles to enlightenment.

When she prayed a sixteen year old boy appeared with a mala on his right hand.

He said it doesn't help to cry and destroy your ornaments. You need to have determination and pray to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas continuously.

Your prayers will be heard and you will realize all your wishes.

The boy said come with me and I will show you the path to enlightenment. He took her hand and they instantly came to a remote spot in Tsang.

It was a beautiful, verdant place. The boy was a manifestation of Guru Padmasambhava. The boy taught Yeshe Tsogyal a teaching on life and samsara.

He told her to remain in that place. Yeshe Tsogyal asked him how she should practice when he was gone. He gave her the pointing out instructions on the nature of mind and told her how to practice.

She thanked him for his teaching and asked him who he was and where he came from.

He said I came from the dharmakaya and whatever I said to you should practice. She asked to stay with him forever so that she could receive teachings. She asked why can't you stay with me.

The boy said to her the time will come that I can be with you, but I cannot remain now for a long time, because I am an apparition. Then the boy disappeared.

Yeshe Tsogyal felt a mixture of happiness and sadness. She wondered if all this was real or just a dream. Then she thought it can't be a dream because she was awake.

She was happy to be in such a beautiful place. But she thought she didn't have food or clothing to stay there.

Then she saw wild animals in the area and thought she could live there if they could. So she lived eating wild plants and drinking water.

She continued to practice and as time passed she realized she had developed some understanding.

So she practiced in that way. When it rained she would stay in a cave and at other times she would meditate outside.

At that time both her parents were constantly worried and berated the minister who had come to take her to the king.

The parents said you are the one responsible for her disappearance and is your responsibility to track her down.

The minister said I don't know anything of her disappearance and returned to the king and told him what he had heard.

The king sent out people all over Tibet to look for Yeshe Tsogyal and bring her back. The king said whoever brings her to me will be properly rewarded. The minister sent out many people to search for her.

At that time Yeshe Tsogyal was meditating at that remote place. Some pilgrims who came to visit the area and saw Yeshe Tsogyal. They were amazed to see a young beautiful girl in that wild place.

They asked her where she came from and what she was doing there. She thought that if she told them the truth they wouldn't understand and people would come to take her. So she didn't tell them the truth. She told them she did not know who she was and where she came from.

She asked them where they were going and why they were passing through here.

They answered since you say you don't know, you are lying and we won't tell you where we are going either. They said maybe you ran away from some place or you may be a nun who came to practice in this secluded place.

Maybe you ran away from the monastery so that you wouldn't have to practice according to their rules. And anyway what do you eat in this place.

She said I am eating wild plants and drinking water and am self sufficient. If you strive for food and wordily goods it causes sinful acts.

By dwelling here I am free of this and am happy. She taught about the suffering of samsara and how afflictive emotions arise from ignorance.

She explained that these are like poisonous food so she avoided them. The pilgrims were astonished and offered her tsampa and tea.

They said please take this so we can accumulate merit. So the pilgrims left. After eating the tsampa and tea she felt healthier and took a nap.

Eating wild plants make you feel lighter with less need to sleep, so she felt sleepy after eating the tsampa.

The pilgrims spread the news about the nun meditating in the secluded place when they returned to the village.

The evil minister heard the news and went to Yeshe Tsogyal's place.

When the minister saw her he said you have caused us a lot of problem and we have been looking for you all over.

The minister asked her why she was living such a miserable life in that place. It will be better if you come along with me I am here to take you to the king.

This king is not an ordinary person, he is like a god. His name is Trisong Deutsen and I am here to take you to be his queen.

You should be happy about that. She told the minister to leave her there.

To be a que of worldly life and I will only accumulate suffering.

It is better to stay here and practice dharma.

So please leave. The evil minister was furious.

He said I came with the approval of your parents. Thinking this would be a great benefit to you, I came here. If you don't agree to come peacefully I will use other alternatives.

I will have to force you to go to the king. He picked her up and carried her to the king, ignoring her cries. During the day he carried her and at night she was guarded. In that way she was brought to the king.

At that time she was thirteen years old.

King Trisong Deutsen invited Shantarakshita and Guru Padmasambhava and many other great pandits from India to come to Tibet.

The king sent some intelligent boys to India to learn Buddhism and later preach it in Tibet.

And the king constructed the monastery of Samye Ling.

He had the Kangyur, the Buddhist scriptures, and Tengyur, their commentaries, translated into Tibetan.

And gradually the institutes where the teaching was learned and retreat centers where the teaching was practiced were established throughout Tibet.

The king received teachings from Guru Padmasambhava including the Tantric teachings.

When he received these teachings the king offered all his possessions and his queen to Padmasambhava.

Guru Padmasambhava established eight retreat centers and taught nine fortunate students.

They were called fortunate because even though he taught everyone, but these nine had the capacity to understand the teachings.

In the Tibetan tradition there is a form of divination which a student tosses a flower on a mandala and wherever the flower falls, the student gets that teaching.

Yeshe Tsogyal got the divination for the teaching of Vajrakilaya.

Guru Padmasambhava told her to practice, gave her the secret name Dechen Gyalmo and asked her to meditate and practice in retreat. He prophesied that she would realize the extraordinary siddhi.

By practicing she saw herself as no different than Vajrakilaya.

Although she had attained realization already, she practiced in thousands of other retreats to bless them so that in the future practitioners would not face obstacles in their meditations.

She also attained the siddhi of remembering whatever Guru Padmasambhava taught without writing it down. She also attained the adamantine body which is unchangeable.

After attaining enlightenment, she acted for the benefit of others. The first service she did for other was to free the evil minister who had been reborn in hell.

She went down to hell and freed not only the minister but many other beings in hell. Guru Padmasambhava sent her to Nepal to free an acharya.

It was a very difficult trip at that time. While she was travelling she encountered seven robbers. They planned to steal her goods.

When they approached her she visualized them as deities and saw herself as giving her jewelry to them as offerings and with this attitude she did so.

When the robbers heard her sweet voice and saw her beauty they planned to rape her. Out of compassion she had sexual relations with them.

As a result they were freed from all their obscurations and negativities. When they realized her compassion they felt regret for their actions and apologized. That caused the robbers to follow the path of virtue.

When you receive empowerment you are given nectar. It doesn't mean you attain liberation immediately, but it sets you on the path to liberation.

Similarly when you meet a great master you are set on the path to liberation.

When Yeshe Tsogyal was wandering in Nepal she met a young boy who asked if she was looking for him. Yeshe Tsogyal thought this was acharya she was sent to free.

To check this she accompanied the boy to meet his parents. She asked them to stay in their house. The parents allowed her to stay in a tent outside their house.

When the parents heard her sweet voice and saw her helpful nature, devotion to her arose in the parents.

They asked her if she was human or divine.

They said it is dangerous to travel alone in this area.

The parents said their son seemed to have a karmic connection with Yeshe Tsogyal and said she should stay in their home as his bride. She agreed but she said you must let him come with me to Tibet to receive teachings from Guru Padmasambhava.

The parents would not accept this condition saying, "We are not willing to have him go to Tibet.

We would worry. Stay here in this house and you will be happy." Yeshe Tsogyal said "The boy should come with me to Tibet.

That is my lama's command and I must obey. You may keep all my belongings. Guru Rinpoche never told me to stay here, so I cannot stay. If your boy goes he will gain enlightenment and you will also be freed from your suffering."

The parents said if she could give gold equal to the boy's body, only then would they give their son to her. Thid thiimpossib her to do this. She agreed to this requirement and told the parents they must keep their promise.

She went out looking for the gold and met a family whose son had just dwere taking his body to be cremated. She was overwhelmed with compassion for these parents because of their suffering.

She thought about what she should do. She went to the parents house and asked the parents if I can restore your son to life, what would you give to me.

The father was overjoyed He said if you give my son life I will give you anything you ask for. Yeshe Tsogyal said you m your word after I perform my part of the bargain.

The father asked, "What do you want?". She said,"I needight to your son's body."

The father was overjoyed and threw himself at her feet and implored her to restore their son to life.

I will give you even more than you asked for. Yeshe Tsogyal meditated and practiced and prayed to her guru Padmasambhava for some time. Yeshe Tsogyal medit back into the dead body.

Then slowly the dead body began to come back to life. Sweat came fromof the body, the body warmed and the eyes opened and the son could say mama. Yeshe Tsogyessed the boy and slowly he regained his health.

The parents who were stricken with grief, were completely o news spread through Nepal.

Then the parents said they would give all their wealth to Yeshe Tsogyal. But she accepted only the boy's body weight in gold and left for the other son.

Yeshe Tsogyal told the parents you should take this gold and give me your son in return.

Her renown in restoring the other son made the parents refuse the gold and they offered tir son to her and they were completely devoted to her.

They said, "It was not greed fo gold but love for our son that prompted us. Keep the gold and take our son with you."

In reply Yeshe Tsogyal said that to be reborn as a human is more precious than gold, so she wouldn't keep the gold.

She said goodbye to the parents and took Acharya Tsale with her.

She went to Samye Ling and approached Guru Rinpoche, who said it was very good that you were able to bring him here. They received all the Tantric instructions from Guru Padmasambhava.

They practiced and were able to attain enlightenment.

Then their renown became so great that even Brahma was astonished. He heard that a second Buddha had been born and he and his consort were teaching.

He wanted to see if he was teaching out of compassion or not. Brahma wanted to test Yeshe Tsogyal's compassionate mind.

So he came to Earth and disguised himself as a leper near to where she was meditating in a cave. She heard his cries she was filled with compassion.

She wished to help him. She said, "Looking at your wounds, I can see you are in pain. If you keep on crying, this will not relieve your pain.

It is more important to find the cause of your pain, which is your negative actions.

That will be more helpful than crying. The three poisons are the cause of your suffering and you must avoid them. You should confess your past misdeeds and I will try to find how to overcome your sufferings."

Brahma said, "I have met many people who promised to help me and were unable to. I do not think you will be able to help me either.

Many other people talked of helping me but didn't. So it is better for you to leave me." Yeshe Tsogyal said, "I am trying to help you and not trying to cause you pain, so why should I leave you."

Brahma said, "The reason why I want you to leave is my wife looked like you and she died a year ago. Looking at you causes me suffering. So your presence causes me physical and mental pain. Many people talk of helping me but don't.

My pain can only be overcome by giving me a kneecap.

But no one will sacrifice this, so there is no use for you to be in my presence." She felt so much compassion for the leper.

She said, "You should realize samsara is suffering and liberate yourself from it. If you realize your sufferings are a result of your past actions and regret them, all your negative karma will be washed away.

If giving away my kneecap will help you I will do it." The leper said, "I am overjoyed that you are willing to give your kneecap."

The leper started weeping and said, "Giving your kneecap relieves my physical pain, but how can you remove the mental pain of my lost wife?" Yeshe Tsogyal said, "Once a person is dead they are gone, so it is better that you forget your wife."

The leper said, "Since you resemble my wife, if you become my wife that will remove my mental pain.

But since you will not do this, it is better that you leave me." Yeshe Tsogyal had so much compassion that she agreed to be his wife. The leper was overjoyed and very happy.

He asked Yeshe Tsogyal to first give him her kneecap. When she did so, she fainted.

We she came to she saw the leper in the form of Brahma.

She asked Brahma where the leper was. Brahma was so much overjoyed he asked her forgiveness and told her he was just testing her intentions.

He fell at her feet and said he regretted his actions and would do whatever she asked to help beings.

He asked her to clear the path to enlightenment for the sake of all beings.

Yeshe Tsogyal hid the treasures hidden by Padmasambhava and showed beings the path to enlightenment. She lived for two hundred years. Then she transformed into the rainbow body and directly went to Guru Rinpoche's Pure Land.