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The Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, Jikdrel Yeshe Dorje, (1904-87) was appointed by His Holiness Dalai Lama XIV as the supreme head of the Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

He was an enlightened yogin and meditation master, a discoverer of concealed treasure teachings (gter-stori) who was inseparable from Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava], the most prolific of contemporary Tibetan scholars, and an incarnate lama who had intentionally emanated for the sake of sentient beings through seventeen successive lives.

In ancient India these emanations included: Buddha Sakyamuni’s foremost disciple Sariputra; the mahasiddha Saraha; Krsnadhara, the religious minister of King Indrabhuti; and the rishi Humkara.

In Tibet, they included:Khyeucung Lotsawa, one of Padmasambhava’s twenty-five disciples; Smrtijnanaklrti whose lifetime demarcated the transition from the ancient to the new system of translation;

Rongzom Pandita who was among the first to compose major treatises within the Nyingma tradition; Katok Tampa Deshek (1122-92) who founded the monastery of Katok in East Tibet; Chogyel Phakpa (1235-80) who established a Sakya administration in Central Tibet;

Rikdzin Dudul Dorje (1615-72) who is famous for his discovery of concealed treasure teachings (gter-ma) in the Puwo region of south-east Tibet; Gyelse Sonam Detsen, responsible for revitalising Katok; and the treasure-finder Dujom Lingpa (1835-1904) who discovered the “New Treasures” (gter-gsar).


Like many of his predecessors, His Holiness was also renowned as a great discoverer of concealed treasure teachings which are now widely practised and propagated.

These are primarily the direct “treasures of intention” or “mind treasures” (dgongs-gter) of the awareness-holders (vidyadhara) concerning the inner tantras of the secret mantra vehicle, which can bring about the unsurpassed enlightenment of the rainbow body in one lifetime.


He took birth in the Pemako region on the frontier of Tibet, on the twenty-third day of the fourth Tibetan month, 1904. This birth occured while his predecessor Dudjom Lingpa was still alive. Dudjom Lingpa himself gave the specific instructions of how to find his authentic emanation. His father was Tulku Jampel Norbu, who was Prince of Kanam, a direct descendant of King Trhisong Detsen, and his mother, Namgyel Drolma.


In his youth His Holiness received the transmissions and direct blessings of Guru Rinpoche, Yeshe Tshogyel and Manjusri in person.

He received all the lineages of the Nyingma school from his lamas: Phungong Tulku Gyurme Ngedon Wangpo, Jedrung Trhinle Campa Jungne, Gyurme Phendei Ozer, Namdrol Gyamtso of Mindroling, Gendlin Gyamtso and Khenpo Aten, amongst others. He mastered every tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

Astonishingly, at the age of fourteen, he gave the full empowerment and oral transmission of the Store of Precious Treasure (rin-chen gter-mdzodf which are the collected treasure texts of the Nyingma lineage.

From that time on, he gave major empowerments relating to different treasure cycles, and at the same time composed many means for attainment (sadhana) which elucidated the profound teachings of the buddhadharma.

He wrote commentaries both on his predecessor’s teachings and on his own revealed treasures. When he was seventeen years old he composed his first celebrated treatise on the Great Perfection (rdzogs-pa chen-po He became widely renowned as a scholar and meditation master, and was followed by many students. Among his students in Tibet and throughout the Himalayan regions, many have shown the signs of full enlightenment.


He maintained ±e lineage of the Mindroling tradition in Central Tibet, and above all at Pema Choling Lamaling and his other seats in ±e Kongpo and Puwo areas of sou±-east Tibet.

Subsequently, foreseeing the incipient Chinese invasion, His Holiness and family left Tibet for India in 1958, following the prediction of Dudjom Lingpa that the lineage of his New Treasures would spread to all continents of the world, and especially to the West.


After his arrival in India, Nepal and Sikkim, he established many vital communities of Buddhist practitioners. These include Zangdok Pelri in Kalimpong, Dudul Rapten Ling in Orissa and the Buddhist monasteries in Tshopema Rewalsar, Himachal Pradesh and Bodhnath in Nepal.

In addition, he actively encouraged the study of the Nyingma tradition at the Tibetan Institute for Higher Studies in Sarnath. In such locations, he continued to grant the empowerments and literary transmissions for the Collected Transmitted Precepts of the Nyingmapa (rnying- ma’i bka’-ma), the Collected Tantras of the Nyingmapa (rnying-ma’i rgyud- ’bum), and the Store of Precious Treasure, among others.

His prolific scholarship is attested by the recent publication in India of his Collected Works, and his edition of the Collected Transmitted Precepts of the Nyingmapa, a fifty-five volume work which he began at the age of seventy-four. At the request of the Dalai Lama, he also wrote a Political History of Tibet (bod-kyi rgyal-rabs


In the final phase of his teaching activity, His Holiness travelled widely throughout Asia, Europe and North America, where he brought many students to the dharma. He continued the buddha-activity of formal teaching, empowerment and personal supervision of meditation practice and retreat, which is the essence of the transmission of Vajrayana Buddhism.

Meditation and retreat centres were also established: the Vajrayana Esoteric Society of Hong Kong, Dorje Nyingpo and Urgyen Samye Choling in France, Yeshe Nyingpo and Orgyen Cho Dzong in the United States.


His Holiness passed into parinirvana, dissolving his emanational body into the pure space of the buddha-body of reality (dharmakaya) on 17 January 1987, the eighteenth day of the eleventh month of the fire tiger year, shortly before the advent of a new Tibetan sixty-year cycle. This was at his residence overlooking the Vezere valley in the Dordogne, France.

His passing was accompanied by miraculous signs of his enlightened realisation and buddha-attributes. His passing away in France is of great significance because it enacts the unification of East and West into a single mandala of enlightened mind.

His embalmed body was placed in a stupa, constructed in Bodhnath, Nepal on 5 February 1989, in order to continue the Bodhisattva’s activity of benefiting sentient beings.

He was a Vajra Guru whose accomplishment is to be seen not so much in the outward form of elaborate monastic establishments, but in the direct, clear awareness of the mind, free from elaboration. This enlightened mind is displayed by many of his monastic and lay disciples. On this basis the purity of his lineage is established and maintained to this day in an unbroken succession.


The publication of this translation was originally conceived as a mandala offering to His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and to those great teachers who, through their discriminative awareness and skillful method, lead sentient beings to the path of the dharma - what is to be abandoned and what is to be adopted. For twenty years Gyurme Dorje devoted painstaking and continuous effort to bring these translations to fruition.

He is a modest and unswerving scholar who has accomplished a work of paramount importance for practitioners, scholars and those generally interested in [Tibetan Buddhism]]. Matthew Kapstein has given invaluable assistance for the later stages of these translations. Our joy is that this work has now come to its final form - the seed having been carefully planted and tended throughout, its growth has borne fruit.

It will bring inconceivable benefit to all those who come into contact with it through reading, contemplation or meditation. Our regret is that we could not complete the project in time to make an offering of it to His Holiness during his lifetime.

It is a work which communicates the highest wisdom of the Nyingma lineage to the English-speaking world.



I dedicate the benefit of this profound work of my father to the long life of His Holiness Dalai Lama XIV, the incarnation of Avalokitesvara, who is a benefit to the Land of Snows, and to the whole world. May all his actions be spontaneously accomplished.

May the Tibetan people, under his lotus feet, never be separated from his enlightened discriminative awareness and compassion.

May His Holiness the Gyelwa Karmapa manifest swiftly to raise the victory banner of the dharma which liberates sentient beings, and may the heads of the Kagyu schools continue to illuminate the path of those wandering in the six realms.

May His Holiness the Sakya Trhizin powerfully safeguard and nourish the faultless tradition of the Sakyapa. May all other lineage-holders flourish, and their dharma activities increase like the waxing moon.


May His Majesty King Jikme Senge Wangcuk of Bhutan live long, bringing happiness, prosperity and spiritual growth to his people. May His Majesty King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev of Nepal fulfill all the aspirations and wishes of his people.

May the government and people of India, the land of the sublime ones, prosper and sustain their spiritual heritage.

May our dharma patrons, the Royal Grandmother of Bhutan, HRH Phuntsok Chodrbn, M. Gerard Godet, Dr L. Y. Soo, Ms Emily Stevens and Jonathan Altman, enjoy both causal and wisdom merits and may their ability to benefit others never be exhausted.

Tulku Pema Wangyel and Tulku Rangdrol selflessly served His Holiness - may their activities in the West be crowned with success.


To you, my physical and spiritual father and root guru, on behalf of my mother Rikzin Wangmo, my sisters Chime Wangmo and Tsering Penzom, my niece Lhanzey Wangmo, and my prophesied wife Sonam Chhuskit; on behalf of my sons Namgyel Dawa and Wangchen Dawa, and on behalf of all your disciples, I bow at your lotus feet and offer homage for your unrepayable kindness and guidance in making our lives wholesome and meaningful.

May the victorious sound of the drum of the dharma penetrate all the levels of existence, bringing joy and happiness. May all be auspicious.

Taking a humble position, rich with the treasure of contentment,

Free from the binds of the eight worldly concerns, firm and strong-hearted in practice,

Receiving the Guru’s blessing, realization becomes equal to space.

May we attain the kingdom of the All-Good.


HIS EMINENCE Shenpen Dawa Rinpoche Lineage-holder of the New Treasures

Dordogne, 1990