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Drikung Kagyu

Jigten Sumgon (tib)
or RatnaShri (skrt)

Lineage Introduction
The Drikung Kagyu Lineage is one of the Kagyu lineages which was founded 800 overs years ago, by the great spiritual master, Kyoba Jigten Sumgon (Sanskrit; Ratna Shri). All these teachings were transmitted to PhagmoDrupa by  Dharma Lord Gampopa. Although Kagyu came from the same root, at that time the Kagyu lineage flourished into several different branches, each carrying the complete teachings and enlightened blessings. Like the wish-fulfilling tree, which comes from the same root, but is divided into different branches, each giving many wonderful blossoms and fruits. Although PhagmoDrupa had hundreds of thousands of disciples, Lord Jigten Sumgon was one of his closest and chief disciples. Phagmo Drupa prophesied that the teachings and blessings would be carried on by a Bodhisattva, (Jigten Sumgon), who already attained the ten Bhumis.

Phagmodrupa's successor, Lord Jigten Sumgon, (1143-1217) who is the embodiment of the Buddha of the Three Times and a reincarnation of Arya Nagarjuna. He appeared at an auspicious time and place acting as an inspiration to those determined to be free of samsara. Early in his life he met with great masters, received all aspects of the teachings, and eventually encountered Lord Phagmodrupa, from whom he received the complete lineage teachings. To integrate these within his mind he practiced day and night until he attained Buddhahood in the Echung Cave at the age of thirty-five. At the request of humans and non-humans he established a monastery at Drikung Thil (1179) thus becoming the founder of the Drikung Kagyu order. His teachings were geared to his hearers' through cultural differences and dogma, revealing the universal law of causes and conditions. Though he had hundreds of disciples, he never excluded any beings from his heart, wishing only to dispel their suffering and establish them in freedom from samsara. The embodiment of wisdom and compassion, he cut the link of their negative propensities. Lord Jigten Sumgon wrote many commentaries and explanations, especially the four volumes known as Inner Profound Teachings, in which he gives meditation instruction and advice. One of his foremost works, the Gong Chik, contains all the essential aspects of Vinaya discipline, Bodhicitta, and Tantra. This text has many commentaries, both in detail and concise, by such masters as Sherab Jungne, who was Lord Jigten SumgonÕs own disciple, the 8th Karmapa, the Fourth Shamarpa, and Drikung Dharmakirti.

Current Drikung Kyabgons
Chungtsang Rinpoche & Chetsang Rinpoche

Since Lord Jigten Sumgon founded the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism, who was regarded as a second Nagrajuna, belonged to one of the highest Tibetan clans, the Kyura family, known as the Miu Dhondruk clan. With the end of the Kyura family, the elder of two brothers Konchok (1590-1654), who came to be known as the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and his younger brother, Kunkyen Rigzin Chokyi Drakpa (1595-164), known as the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang Konchok Tenzin Chokyi Nangwa Rinchen Tenpa Gyaltsen. They took up the leadership of the Drikung Kagyu Order. This arrangement was made under two leaders, Drikung Kagyu practice has been transmitted in an unbroken lineage until now. The present 36th Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang Konchok Tenzin Chokyi Nangwa (1942), who resides in Tibet and the 37th Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, Konchok Tenzin Kunzang Trinley Lhundrup (1946-), who resides at Jangchub Ling monastery in India.

Prayer to Lord Jigten Sumgon
Precious Englightenment, the Source of Benefit and Bliss
by Mipham

Emanation body, embodiment of the wisdom, compassion,
and ability of the buddhas and bodhisattvas
of the ten directions and the three times,
Drikungpa, protector of beings in the Land of Snows,
well-known as Ratna Shri,
please grant us the blessings of excellent virtue.

Though you have been enlightened, lord,
since beginningless time,
your manifestations of compassionate wisdom
will remain for as long as samsara exists.
You display various emanations again and again.
I bow down to you who bear the great burden
of protecting all beings.

You established, through the doors of study and practice,
the methods of the Mahayana in this Land of Snows.
The sun of your activities pervades the whole world.
I bow down to you, Lord Jigten Sumgon.

You promised to gaze, with unfailing compassion,
on whoever supplicates you with respect.
We are your followers in this degenerate age.
Who else can we rely on?

Therefore, now, when we supplicate you with devotion
from our hearts,
do not forget your former great promise.
Please spontaneously accomplish the essence of our wish
to increase the number of authentic masters
and to spread the teachings.

Please pacify the disheartening circumstances
of this degenerate age.
Further increase the glory and good qualities
of the world and its inhabitants.
Please grant your blessings so that all the gathered virtues
of the sacred and the secular without exception
may be expanded in this place.

The core of the thought of the victorious ones
of the three times
is the path of mahamudra, the pinnacle of the ultimate meaning.
Please establish and expand this path
in all directions and times.
Please grant your blessings to increase the good qualities
of the three trainings.

In this way, may these results that we have hoped for
ripen as we have wished.
By these excellent virtues, may the glory of auspiciousness,
the light of all that is marvelous,
pervade the three worlds.

Five-fold Profound Path of Mahamudra
Of the Glorious Drigung Kagyu Lineage

In the Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, Mahamudra or the “Great Seal” is
considered the essence of the Buddhas’ teachings. It is also sometimes referred to as the highest and most profound teaching of the Buddhas. This Mahamudra is sometimes compared to Dzogchen (“Great Completeness”) – the essence of the Buddhas’ teachings according to the Nyingma lineage. Not surprisingly, there have been a number of figures in the history of Tibetan Buddhism who taught the synthesis or union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. Others mastered both but taught them separately to different students as they saw fit. There are yet others – in the majority – who focused on mastering either Dzogchen or Mahamudra.

The Mahamudra lineage can be traced according to the “far-lineage” as well as the “near-lineage.” The “far-lineage” is traced from the current holders of this profound lineage back all the way to the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. The “near-lineage” on the other hand is traced from the current holders back to the Indian mahasiddhas such as Saraha, Maitripa, Tilopa and Naropa who received Mahamudra teachings directly from Buddha Vajradhara. However, it should be pointed out that although these Indian mahasiddhas received Mahamudra teachings directly from Buddha Vajradhara (and hence is part of the “near-lineage”) they are also holders of the “far-lineage” as they also received Mahamudra teachings from human teachers who were holders of this “far-lineage.” Hence, the Mahamudra lineages that are currently held by the various Kagyu lineages are both of the “far” as well as “near” lineages. It should be pointed out that Mahamudra lineages are also found in the Gelug tradition as several past masters of this tradition also received Mahamudra instructions from holders of the Mahamudra in the Kagyu tradition. This lineage of the Mahamudra is known as the “Gelug-Kagyu Mahamudra” lineage – sometimes translated as the “Gelug Whispered Mahamudra” or he “Gelug Oral Mahamudra” lineage.

Most of Kagyu Mahamudra lineages stem from the Mahamudra teachings that were given by Gampopa (1079-1153) to his students. Gampopa himself received Mahamudra from his root-teacher Milarepa (1052-1135) who in turn received it from his root-teacher Marpa (1012-1096). Marpa was a Tibetan who traveled to India and Nepal and received many teachings from the Indian mahasiddhas – the most important being Naropa and Maitripa who transmitted to Marpa the complete Mahamudra ground, path and fruition. Gampopa himself combined the profound teachings of Mahamudra with the graduated approach of practice as taught by the Kadam tradition. The Indian pandit Atisha founded the Kadam tradition in Tibet. Gampopa was a monk in the Kadam tradition before he became Milarepa’s disciple. Although there are many scholarly debates in Tibetan Buddhist history over the status and types of Mahamudra, Gampopa seemed to have mainly advocated two possible approaches to Mahamudra. According to Gampopa, Mahamudra can be approached via the way of sutra as well as via the way of tantra. Hence, there is sutra-Mahamudra and tantra-Mahamudra. Sometimes it is said that Gampopa also taught a third approach to Mahamudra which is neither sutra-based nor tantra-based.

The Kagyu Lineage Masters – Tilopa, Naropa and Marpa

From Gampopa onwards, many different Mahamudra lineages began to crystallize according to the different styles of Mahamudra taught by Gampopa and his spiritual descendents. Some of the Mahamudra traditions that can be traced back to Gampopa or his descendents are the tradition of “Simultaneous Production and Union,” the “Six Equal Tastes,” the “Four Letters” and the “Fivefold Profound Path.” These traditions are still upheld by the four surviving Kagyu lineages (Karma, Taglung, Drukpa and Drigung Kagyu).

In the Drigung Kagyu, the main Mahamudra system is that known as the “Fivefold Profound Path of Mahamudra” or also known as the “Possessing Five.” Although Gampopa himself also taught this particular approach of Mahamudra, its name was given by his successor Phagmo Drupa (1110-1170) who was the root-teacher of the founder of the Drigung Kagyu, Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon. Although this system of the Five-fold Profound Path is chiefly held by Drigung Kagyupas, Phagmo Drupa himself also authored a text on this system known as “Verses on the Fivefold Path.” Masters of Trophu Kagyu (this particular Kagyu lineage no longer survive as an independent lineage) and Taglung Kagyu have also written on this particular system. Gyalwa Yang Gonpa, a teacher of the Drukpa Kagyu wrote the “Drop of Nectar: the Fivefold Path.” The Omniscient Pema Garpo of the Drukpa Kagyu also wrote about this system in his “Kernel of Mind.” Situ Chokyi Jungne also wrote extensive commentaries on the Fivefold Profound Path. In his “Preface” to Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche’s book “The Garland of Mahamudra Practices,” (a translation of Gyalwang Kunga Rinchen’s [1475-1527] “Clarifying the Jewel Rosary of the Fivefold Profound Path.”) His Holiness Drigung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche points out that these days those who rely on this system  mostly follow the commentaries given by Drigung Dharmakirti. Many other Drigung Kagyu teachers of the past also wrote extensive commentaries on this system of the Mahamudra. It goes without saying that Kyobpa Rinpoche himself also wrote several texts and many songs on this subject.

Dharma Lord Gampopa

According to this system then, the five “folds” of this profound path of Mahamudra are

1) bodhicitta – the altruistic intention of liberating all sentient beings from samsara,
2) yidam – practice of visualizing oneself as a supremely enlightened being,
3) guru-yoga – seeking union with the wisdom-mind of the Teacher,
4) mahamudra – actual engagement of Mahamudra and finally,
5) dedication – perfect dedication of one’s virtues.

Before one can begin to engage in the practices laid out in this system, one first needs to focus on the foundational practices. Practice of the first “fold” assumes the prior completion of what is known as the “foundational practices” (Tib. ngondro). These foundational practices are divided into the outer and inner. The outer foundational practices refer to the “Four Thoughts that Turn the Mind” taught by Gampopa. These are establishing in one’s mental-continuum the four realizations of

1) the good fortune of obtaining a precious human birth,
2) the universality of impermanence,
3) the infallible workings of cause and effect and
4) the nature of samsara as unsatisfactoriness.

After a firm foundation on these four thoughts has been established in one’s
mental-continuum, one can begin to engage in the inner foundational practices. These are:

1) going for refuge which confirms and establishes one’s commitment to the
Triple Jewel,
2) Vajrasattva purification practice for the eradication of one’s negative
karma and karmic imprints,
3) mandala-offering for the profound accumulation of merit necessary for
attainment of complete Buddhahood and
4) guru-yoga for the inspiration-blessings of the root and lineage

Only after these practices have been “completed” (100,000 practices of each of the four) does one properly begin the first fold of the Five-fold Profound Path
– bodhicitta.

Regarding bodhicitta, Kyobpa Rinpoche sang in one of his many vajra-songs,
“If the steed of love and compassion
Does not run for the benefit of others,
It will not be rewarded in the assembly of gods and humans.
Attend therefore to the preliminaries.”

Drigung Kyobpa Rinpoche

Bodhicitta is briefly defined as the “altruistic intention to free all sentient beings from samsara.” Very often bodhicitta is confused with compassion. Although compassion is one of the most important factors in the generation of bodhicitta, it is not in itself bodhicitta. The arousal of bodhicitta begins by first attending to the generation of loving-kindness for all sentient beings. It is said that loving-kindness is the feeling that one gets when one sees a newborn child. When we see a small child, we often automatically think kind and friendly thoughts towards the child. We spontaneously wish that the child be safe, happy and protected from all harm. There is nothing as soothing as the sight of a soundly sleeping child. It is that warmth and unconditional love that we are trying to generate for all sentient beings. We try to regard all sentient beings as our own children whom we love unconditionally. We pray for their well-being, safety and protection and are willing to give up our own lives for their sakes. When we are able to feel this way towards all sentient beings, we will naturally be able to generate compassion. Compassion is the feeling of wanting to free others from suffering and the causes of suffering. It is the feeling that we get when we encounter someone suffering from a terrible disease or undergoing intense physical and emotional pain. We want to be able to help and to ease that pain; that suffering. Having thus generated and cultivated both loving-kindness and compassion, we can then arrive at the point when we are ready to truly generate bodhicitta.

As defined earlier, bodhicitta is the “altruistic intention to free all sentient beings from samsara.” Realizing that sentient beings are completely under the power of samsaric suffering, we come home to the powerful recognition that only by arriving at the state of complete Buddhahood can samsaric suffering be conquered once and for all. Although there are many ways to ease the suffering of sentient beings, they are all temporary and non-final. Only by completely uprooting the cause of suffering are we then thoroughly free from suffering. And this is the state of ultimate liberation; of complete Buddhahood. This knowledge – the knowledge of the faults, cause, end of and path to the end of samsara is wisdom. Hence, bodhicitta is the resolve that arises from loving-kindness and compassion on the one hand and wisdom on the other hand. When these two aspects come together, bodhicitta is generated.

The second section of the Five-fold Profound Path is the practice of Yidam. Yidam practice refers to the generation and completion practices of the highest yoga tantra and in this particular case in the highest yoga tantra system of the Chakrasamvara cycle of teachings. Although the principal yidam of Marpa was Hevajra, his teacher Naropa predicted that Marpa’s lineage would eventually rely on Chakrasamvara as their main yidam. Hence, it was the practice of Chakrasamvara that Marpa transmitted to his main disciple, Milarepa.

There are many different forms of Chakrasamvara appearing with different number of faces, hands, and number of surrounding retinues. In the Drigung Kagyu lineage, the most popular and common Chakrasamvara deity practice is in the form of the Five-deity Chakrasamvara. The Five-deity Chakrasamvara includes the central deity of the two-armed, single-faced male Chakrasamvara deity in union with the female Vajravarahi deity (these two in union are taken as a single deity) and four surrounding dakinis in the four directions.

Yidam practice is a very special tantric practice in which one transforms one’s normal, samsaric experience of reality into an extraordinary experience of the true state of all phenomena. While the teachings of the sutra-level consider ignorance as the root cause of samsaric existence, the tantric teachings identify the ordinary appearances as the root cause of samsara. The practice of Yidam is a special and profound method to quickly transform ordinary appearances into enlightened appearances. To be more accurate, this practice uncovers the actual state of appearances and reveal them to be pure and empty unceasingly. Yidam practice does not make ordinary appearances into something they are not – pure and empty of inherent existence. Rather, it uncovers the purity and emptiness that have always been there but obscured and unseen. Due to the tantric nature of these teachings, it is best that one receive the details of these teachings directly from an authentic teacher of the lineage. It is hoped that this brief description of Yidam practice as the second section of the Five-fold Profound Path of Mahamudra will encourage the reader to seek out these profound teachings from a valid and reliable teacher of the lineage when the time and conditions are right. Kyobpa Rinpoche sang,

“If one's body, the King of Deities
is not stabilized on this Unchanging Ground,
The retinue of dakinis will not assemble.
Be sure, therefore, of your body as the yidam.”

The third section of the Five-fold Path is the practice of Guru-yoga or the practice of attaining union with the wisdom mind of the Teacher (guru). There are many types of teachers – our parents as our first teachers, our grade school teachers who taught us to read and write, teachers in the secular arts and sciences, spiritual teachers who gave us the Refuge vows, those who gave us the lay or monastic vows, the Bodhisattva-vow preceptors, Vajra-teachers who conferred tantric empowerments on us and finally those teachers who introduced to us the nature of our mind. In a sense, the Teacher referred to here in the practice of guru-yoga is all of them; all of these teachers. However, it is not so much a practice directed at a particular individual or person whom we call our “Teacher” but the basic wisdom-mind within all these teachers who have taught us. By having confidence in and relying on this basic wisdom-mind that we locate within our teachers (and in particular in the teacher(s) who introduced to us the nature of our mind), we strive to recognize this same wisdom-mind that is inherent in us. In particular, we need to rely on an authentic and experienced teacher who has him/herself recognized his/her own nature of mind and can help us recognize ours as well. The practice of Guru-yoga is extolled in the tradition as the most direct and profound method to the quick recognition of the nature of mind. Many Kagyu teachers have taught that the quickest and surest way to recognize the nature of mind is a mind filled with devotion. When devotion is present, recognition of the nature of mind is not far. Kyobpa Rinpoche sang,

If on the Guru, the Snow Mountain of the Four Kayas,
The Sun of Devotion fails to shine,
The Stream of Blessings will not flow.
Attend, therefore, to this mind of devotion.

The Guru-yoga practiced as the third section of the Fivefold Profound Path is slightly more involved and detailed than the Guru-yoga practice found in the set of practices found in the inner foundational practices (ngondro). Specifically, the Four-kayas Guru-yoga” is practiced here. These four kayas or “bodies” refer to the Emanational body (Skt. nirmanakaya, Tib. trul-ku), Enjoyment body (Skt. sambhogakaya, Tib. long-ku), Reality body (Skt. dharmakaya, Tib. cho-ku) and Nature body (Skt. svabhavikakaya, Tib. ngowo nyi-ku) which is the inseparability of the first three bodies. Within this context, the first three bodies are considered relative truth and the fourth body is ultimate truth. A practitioner will first practice the Emanational body Guru-yoga practice where the Teacher is visualized in the form of Shakyamuni Buddha (herself in her ordinary form). She then meditates on the Teacher on the Enjoyment body level as Vairochana (and herself as the yidam) Buddha and for the Reality body in the form of Vajradhara Buddha. Finally, when she arrives at the Nature body level of guru yoga practice, the Teacher meditated on without any form, color, name or shape.

The current Drigung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche writes:
“Externally are the three bodies of the Teacher, the relative truth
(On the level of) absolute truth the self-arising luminosity of the teacher
Is the nature of one’s own mind.
The Teacher, one’s own mind and the Buddha are inseparable
Appearing as the manifestation of the Nature body.”

When the mind has become ripened through Guru-yoga practice, one finally arrives at the heart of the Five-fold Profound Path – the actual practice of Mahamudra itself.

Regarding the Mahamudra, again, the present Drigung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche writes:
“Sustain the fresh, non-arising mind without delusion.
In this uncontrived, natural state
Completely avoid the fabrication of meditation and meditator
The non-meditating, undisturbed, ordinary mind
Remains non-attached and non-separated
Free from hope and fear, grasping and letting-go
Rejection and acceptance, meditation and post-meditation.”

We will not be discussing this topic any further as Mahamudra is best learnt directly from a living teacher. However, there is a link to a simple but yet profound teaching on Mahamudra given spontaneously by one of the most important Drigung Kagyu lineage masters alive today – His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche who is the main Drigung Kagyu Rinpoche in Eastern Tibet.

Finally, there is the section on Dedication as the fifth section of the Fivefold Profound Path. Dedication is one of the most distinctive features of Buddhist practice – a practice that is done at the end of all practices be it of the hinayana or mahayana (both sutra and tantra levels). By dedicating the merit of one’s practice for the welfare of all sentient beings’ complete liberation from all suffering and the causes of suffering one ensures that one’s practice remains pure and beneficial. As with most practices, there are relative and ultimate aspects (and it is important to remember that one does not privilege one aspect over the other but rather perfectly practice on both levels as they are in reality inseparable). On the ultimate level of Dedication – Dedication in the context of Mahamudra – one dedicates the merit with the understanding of the emptiness of oneself, the merit dedicated and the dedication itself; the threefold emptiness.

The Five-fold Profound Path of Mahamudra is a complete path to the attainment of perfect enlightenment within one lifetime. Many practitioners in the past have taken this Path and arrived at the other shore of complete peace. At the present, there are also many sincere practitioners of this Path practicing under the expert and compassionate guidance of the lineage teachers of the Drigung Kagyu lineage. There are also many other sincere practitioners of Mahamudra tradition of Gampopa following the different Mahamudra traditions that have developed out of Gampopa’s basic Mahamudra system. Furthermore, aside from the purely Kagyu Mahamudra lineages, there is also the Mahamudra practice lineage within the Gelug lineage. Mention should also be made of the “union” of Mahamudra and Dzogchen practices derived from some lineage masters of the Kagyu and Nyingma.

“In order that all beings who have been my mothers
May quickly be liberated from samsara and
May attain perfect enlightenment,
I dedicate all merit accumulated by
Myself, and all ordinary and enlightened beings in the three times
As well as the merit of the innately pure Buddha-nature.”

Drikung Kagyu Dzogchen Terma Teachings
The Very Profound Vision (Yang Zab)

The Yang Zab (The practices of the Very Profound Vision) is regarded as  supreme among all the Yanas--it embodies the very essence of the tantric teachings. As a Dzogchen practice, it is unique within the Drikung lineage, as it was revealed by the Drikung Tertön (hidden treasure revealer), Rinchen Phuntsog and he is also the 17 throne holder of the Glorious Drikung Kagyu Order.

During the eighth century, King Trisong Deutsen of Tibet, an emanation of Manjushri, invited Guru Rinpoche to the Land of Snows in order to subdue demonic forces hostile to the Dharma. Having accomplished his wishes and having founded Samye Monastery, the king showed signs of approaching death, and soon passed away. The  king's son, Prince Mutik Tsenpo (also known as Sena Lek) became king, and received the Yang Zab empowerments and instructions from Guru Rinpoche.

The youthful king found that his fathers duties were were so numerous that he had little time to practice Dharma. Guru Rinpoche foresaw a time in the future when the teachings of dharma would degenerate due to the increasing power of ignorance and afflictive emotions in the minds of sentient beings. Guru Rinpoche gave the teachings of the "Very Profound "  (Yang Zab)  - practices that he received through Kuntungzangpo (dharmakaya), the 100 peaceful and wrathful deities and the 5 buddha families (sambhogakaya), and from Tulku Garab Dorje (nirmanakaya). Prophesizing that these teachings would be most effective in future times of spiritual darkness, he gave the teachings to Mandarava, who attained rainbow body, and to Yeshe Tsogyal. Guru Rinpoche instructed him to put the practice into text form  and prepare six copies on durable sheets of gold, turquoise, copper and other materials.

These were then wrapped in precious materials and  hidden by Yeshe Tsogyal in Zhoto Terdrom on the limestone massif to the north in the Great Assembly Hall of the Sky Dancers cave ( Khandro Tsok Khang Kiri Yang Zong Namkha Phug ) located in a towering peak.

The terma was revealed by the great omniscient Drikung Tertön Rinchen Phuntsog, himself an emanation of King Mutik Tsenpo, during the first half of the sixteenth century. The Yang Zab has been transmitted uninterruptedly down through the Drikung lineage to the present.

Main Drikung Yangzab Website

Colorado Yangzab Study Group
The Aurora Sangha practices the Yangzab terma teachings. Currently, we are doing the Yangzab Ngondro.  Contact the Aurora Sangha for further information.


Longchen Nyingthig of the Ancient Ones Tradition (Nyingma)

Its Origins and Transmission by Ven. Khenpo Namdrol Rinpoche

The teaching of Dzogpachenpo was first given in the pure realm of Akanishtha, where the teacher Samantabhadra, in Sambhogakaya form, communicates the teaching directly by means of his wisdom mind to disciples who are not different from him in any way-sugatas and bodhisattvas, male and female.

Now, in this world of ours, the first to spread the teaching of Dzogpachenpo was the Nirmanakaya emanation Garab Dorje. Dates given for Garab Dorje put his birth in the year 536BC; by comparison, one popular date for the passing away of Lord Buddha, from the Theravada traditon of Sri Lanka, is 543BC. From the glorious Lord of Secrets, Vajrapani, or it is often said Vajrasattva, Garab Dorje received, in an instant and all together, the empowerments, as well as the tantras, agamas, and upadeshas, of Dzogpachenpo. Then in the north of the western land of Oddiyana, on the rugged mountain-peak of Suryaprakasha, the vidyadhara Garab Dorje, along with the wisdom dakinis, gathered and complied all the tantras in existence, both those that were known and those that were unknown. Together they divided the 20,000 tantras which bore the name of Dzogpachenpo into ‘shlokas’ or verses, and classified them into 6,400,000 verses. Garab Dorje’s disciple, Manjushrimitra, then divided these 6,400,000 verses of Dzogpachenpo into
three categories:
the outer category of mind-Semde,
the inner category of space-longde, and
the secret category of pith instructions-Mengakde.1

Looking first at the outer category of mind- when the Semde teachings were translated in Tibet, the land of snows, eighteen ‘mother’ and ‘child texts of the mind class were indentified, although the Semde’ tantras can also be counted as numbering twenty-one. These eighteen ‘mother’ and ‘child’ texts of Semde’ consist of the first five to be translated, which were translated by Vairochana, and given the name the ‘Five Earlier Translation’s, plus the thirteen texts translated by his disciple Yudra Nyingpo, known as the “Thirteen Later Translations of Semde’. When the ‘Three Major Tantras’ of Semde’ are then added, that makes a total of twenty-one.

Vairochana received the cycle of Smede’ from the master Shri Singha, and then transmitted it to the great Dharma king Trisong Detsen, Yudra Nyingpo, and others as a result of which it spread throughout Tibet. Next, the inner category of space, the Longdé, is reckoned to consist of 20,000 ‘volumes.’ These can be classified into three: white space, black space, and variegated space, or they can also be categorized as nine spaces. From Shri Singha, Vairochana received the Longdé pith instructions, and composed ‘the Vajra Bridgé, a scriptural text, which he transmitted in Tibet to Pang Sangye’ Gonpo. Pang Sangyé Gonpo and the six successive disciples in his lineage left this world by dissolving into a body of light.

Finally, as for the secret category of pith instructions, it was divided by Manjushrimitra’s disciple, Shri Singha, into:
the outer cycle, which is like the physical body,
the inner cycle, which is like the eyes,
the secret cycle, which is like the heart, and
the innermost secret Nyingtik, which is like the whole body that contains everything, all complete.

These four great cycles present the Trekcho teachings in a similar way, but where they differ is in the clarity, explicitness and detail of how the Togal techings are given. Shri Singha gave the outer, inner and secret cycles of the category of pith instructions to both Vimalamitra and Jnanasutra. He transmitted the innermost secret cycle to Jnanasutra, who then passed it on to Vimalamitra.

The Vima Nyingtik
The first four masters in the lineage left this world in a characteristic way. At the end of his life, the first human Dzogchen master Garab Dorje disappeared into a sphere of rainbow light, leaving his disciple Manjushrimitra his last testament ‘Hitting the Essence in Three Words’, Tsik Sum Ne Dek. When Manjushrimitra departed from this world, vanishing in a cloud of light, he gave his laste testament to his disciple Shri Singha, entitled ‘Six Experiences of Meditation’, Gom Nyam Drukpa. When Shri Singha passed away and dissolved into a body of light, he bestowed his testament ‘Seven Nails’, Zerbu Dun, on Jnanasutra. He too left this world by disappearing into a sphere of light, leaving his disciple Vimalamitra his own testament ‘Four Methods of Contemplation’, Shyak Tab Shyipa.

The lineage which passed from the primordial buddha Samantabhadra through Vajrapani or Vajrasattva to the vidyadhara Garab Dorje is known as the Mind Direct Transmission of the Buddhas Gyalwa Gong Gyu. From Garab Dorje down through Manjushrimitra, Shri Singha and Jnanasutra to Vimalamitra, the lineage is known as the Sign Transmission of the Vidyadharas-Rigdzin Da Gyu. Then from Vimalamitra onwards, the lineage is called the Oral Transmission from Special Individuals- Gangzak Nyen Gyu. These are the three transmissions according to the tradition of Vimalamitra. Within the Innermost Secret Cycle of Nyingtik are the Seventeen Tantras. The tradition of Vimalamitra adds to them the ‘Tantra of the Wrathful Mother, Protectress of Mantras’, to make eighteen in all,  while the tradition of Padmasambhava also arrives at a total of eighteen by adding the ‘Tantra of the Blazing Expanse of Luminosity’. Generally, however, both the ‘Tantra of the Wrathful Mother, Protectress of Mantras’, from Vimalamitra’s tradition and the ‘Tantra of the Blazing Expanse of Luminosity’ from Padmasambhava’s tradition and the ‘Tantra of the Blazing Expanse of Luminosity’ from Padmasambhava’s tradition are added to the Seventeen Tantras of the Innermost Secret Nyingtik Cycle, making a total of nineteen altogether.

In Tibet, the ones who made this Nyingtik teaching of Clear Light spread were the great masters who possessed their special direct transmission, chiefly the great pandita Vimalamitra, and Guru Padmasambhava. In the room known as Utse’ Barkhang in Samye, Vimalamitra gave the cycle of the Innermost Secret Nyingtik of Dzogpachenpo in strictest secrecy to five disciples: the King Trisong Detsen, Nyangben Tingdzin Zangpo, Prince Muni Tsepo, Kawa Platsek and Chokro Luyi Gyaltsen. The tradition of Nyingtik which came down from this transmission is known as the Vima Nyingtik. The Vima Nyingtik itself can be categorized into tantras, agamas, and upadeshas, which are all taught within it. The tantras here refer to the Seventeen Tantras of the pith instruction. The agamas found in the Vima Nyingtik are the golden lettered instructions, the turquoise lettered instructions, the copper lettered instructions, and the conch lettered instructions. These are what are called the ‘four volumes of profound instructions’. Then the upadeshas refer to the 119 treatises of essential pith instructions. Vimalamitra spent thirteen years in Tibet, and then promising to return to Tibet every hundred years as an emanation to further the Clear Light teaching of Dzogpachenpo, he left for the Wutaishan mountain in China. There he remain until all of the 1000 buddhas of this Fortunate Kalpa have appeared. When they have all done so, he will once again go to Vajrasana in India, where he will manifest the state of complete and perfect enlightenment.

Fifty-five years after Vimalamitra’s departure for Wutaishan, Nyangben Tingdzin Zangpo, having given the transmission of the Vima Nyingtik cycle to Be Lodro Wangchuk, attained the rainbow body. Be Lodro Wangchuk gave the pith instructions cycle of Nyingtik to Dangma Lhundrup Gyaltsen, who in turn passed it on to Chetsun Senge Wangchuk. He transmitted it to Gyalwa Shyangton Tashi Dorje, and then left this world in a rainbow body. Gyalwa Shyangton passed it on to the great siddha Khepa Nyimabum, who gave the teachings to his principal disciple Guru Jober. Then Guru Jober transmitted them to Trulshik Senge Gyabpa. He in turn gave them to the great siddha Drupchen Melong Dorje, who passed them on to the vidyadhara Kumaradza. Kumaradza gave the teachings to the Omniscient Longchen Rabjam, and so this is how the lineage flowed down to the Omniscient Longchenpa, who was born in the year 1308.

In terms of what are called the ‘old’ and ‘new Nyingtiks, the Vima Nyingtik came to be known as the old Nyingtik, and in terms of kama and terma, it was classified as kama. This is how it is popularly defined. The Vima Nyingtik is also called the ‘mother text’ (ma yik). Later on, Longchenpa composed his own commentary on the Vima Nyingtik, which was mainly based on the Dzogchen Tantra ‘Garland of Pearls’. It was called the Lama Yangtik, ‘Wish Fulfilling Jewel’, and is subdivided into fiftyone different treatises. Since it is a commentary on the Vima Nyingtik, it is referred to as the ‘child text’ (bu yik). This is how Vimalamitra’s lineage came to be passed down.

The Khandro Nyingtik
It was from Shri Singha that the great master Padmasambhava received the teachings of Nyingtik. In Tibet, Padmasambhava taught his own complete Nyingtik cycle of the Clear Light teaching of Dzogpachenpo in secret to Yeshe Tsogyal, along with 100,000 wisdom dakinis, at the Shyoto Til Dro cave. Then one day, king Trisong Detsen’s daughter, the Princess Pema Sel, died unexpectedly at the age of only eight. The king was distraught with grief, and so to console him. Guru Rinpoche drew a syllable NRI over the little princess’s heart, caught her consciousness with the hook of his samadhi, and brought her back to life. As soon as she opened her eyes and could speak again, he gave her the whole cycle of the Khandro Nyingtik by emans of the power he had to transfer blessings directly. He empowered Princess Pema Seal to reveal this teaching in a future life, and then the complete Khandro Nyingtik cycle was hidden as a terma. Princess Pema Sel was reborn much later as Pema Ledrel Tsal, who withdrew the terma of Khandro Nyingtik from its place of concealment at the Daklha Tramo Drak rock in the province of Dakpo. He then transmitted it to his main disciple Gyalse’ Lekden. Pema Ledrel Tsal was reincarnated as the Omniscient Longchenpa, who received the whole cycel of Khandro Nyingtik from Gyalse’ Lekden, and by so doing ensured that the authentic lineage was kept alive.

According to the Khandro Nyingtik then, the Mind Direct Transmission of the Buddhas is the same primordial expression of the Dzogchen teachings in the Akanishtha heaven. The Sign Transmission of the Vidyadharas is that which passed from Vajrapani to Garab Dorje, Shri Singha, Guru Rinpoche, Yeshe Tsogyal and Princess Pema Sel. From Pema Ledrel Tsal on, to Gyalse Lekden and the Omniscient Longchen Rabjam, is the Oral Transmission from Special Individuals. The Khandro Nyingtik cycle itself consists of the Twelve ‘mother’ and ‘child’ Tantras of the Takdrol Gyu, the ‘Three Last Testaments of the Buddha’, and other teachings amounting to a total of sixty-five different categories. When the pith-instructions are given according to the Khandro Nyingtik, it is these Twelve Tantras of the Takdrol Gyu and Three Last Testaments which are quoted as references.

Guru Rinpoche’s Khandro Nyingtik came to be known as the ‘new’ Nyingtik, and is classified as
terma. As it was first taught to Yeshe Tsogyal and Pema Sel, who were both dakinis, and the guardian of the teaching was the protectress Shaza Khamoche’, it was given the name ‘Khandro’ Nyingti. Guru Rinpoche’s Khandro Nyingtik is called the ‘mother text’, as is the Vima Nyingtik, and so these two are known as the two ‘mother’s. The commentary on the Khandro Nyingtik composed by the Omniscient Longchen Rabjam is the Khandro Yangtik-’the Cloud-bank of Ocean-like Profound Meanings’, which is called the ‘child text’. The two mother texts and two child texts of the Nyingtik were called the ‘four parts’ - Yabshyi, and so became known together as the Nyingtik Yabshyi. Longchen Rabjam also composed the Zabmo Yangtik, which condenses the important pith-instructions of both Vima Nyingtik and Khandro Nyingtik, but it is not comprehensive.

Most of the cycles of the Innermost Secret Nyingtik are famous as being termas, and they can be categorized into elaborate, middle-length and condense cycles of teachings. The most elaborate Nyingtik is the Nyingtik Yabshyi itself. The middle-length Nyingtik is said to be the Northern Treasure Gongpa Zangtal, ‘All-penetrating Wisdom Mind’, and the condense one is said to be Minling Terchen’s terma Ati Zapdon Nyingop ‘Essence of the Profound Truth of Ati’.

The Continuing Lineage Between Longchen Rabjam and the vidyadhara Jikme Lingpa, there are fourteen masters in the lineage of transmission, However, when Jikme Lingpa practised, focusing on the Omniscient Longchenpa, for three years in the Sangchen Metok Cave at Samye Chimphu, Longchenpa actually appeared to him in a vision three times, and gave them the entire blessing of the transmission of his wisdom mind. So this was a short lineage which came directly and immediately down from Longchenpa to Jigme Lingpa. From Jikme’ Lingpa, the teaching passed to Jikme Gyalwe’ Nyugu, then to Jikme’ Chokyi Wangpo (Patrul Rinpoche), and then to Nyoshul Lungtok Tenpe’ Nyima, who gave it to the great Khenchen Ngakgi Wangpo (Khenpo Ngaga. In turn, he transmitted it to his disciple, Shedrup Lungtok Tenpe Nyima, the incarnation of Nyoshul Lungtok. From this great master, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche received, it is said, almost all of the teachings of the Nyingtik cycle. The transmission which Nyoshul Lungtok Tenpe Nyima gave to Khenchen Ngaga was in turn passed on by him to the vidyadhara Palchen Dupa, the second Pema Norbu Rinpoche. Khenpo Ngaga and Palchen Dupa were as teacher and student to one another. So Plachen Dupa would offer Khenchen Ngaga many teachings from the Nyingtik cycle, and likewise he received a considerable number of Nyingtik teachings from the great khenpo. Now, Palchen Dupa gave the transmission to Thubten Chökyi Dawa, the second Choktrul Rinpoche, who passed it on to His Holiness Drubwang Penor Rinpoche. In this way, the two lineages from Khenpo Ngaga merged into one. Finally, Penor Rinpoche received the entire transmission of Nyingtik Yabshyi, along with the detailed explanation of the texts, from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

This brief note on the Nyingtik Yabshyi was composed by Khenpo Namdrol Rinpoche to mark HH Drubwang Penor Rinpoche’s granting of the Nyingtik Yabshyi empowerments at the request of Sogyal Rinpoche and Rigpa at Lerab Ling in July 1995. The Dzogchen teachings of Mengakde are also differentiated according to whether they belong to the ‘Shé Gyü’ or ‘Nyen Gyü,’ the explanatory Tantras or oral transmission. It is sometimes said that the Shé Gyü mainly contains the instructions for enlightement in this lifetime and the Nyen Gyü for enlightenment in the intermediate state. Another way in which this is explained is that the Outer, Inner and Secret cycles are Nyen Gyü, and the Innermost Secret Cycle belongs to Shé Gyü. The special fruition of the practice of the Innermost Secret Cycle, the Nyingtik teachings, is to attain the ‘rainbow body.’ Through the perfection of the practice of Trekcho, the physical body can be dissolved completely at death into particles, while through the Togal practice, it is dissolved into a body of light or rainbow body. There are two kinds of rainbow body: the general rainbow body, where the body dissolves completely into light, and the ‘Rainbow Body of the Great Transference’, Jalu Phowa Chenpo, where the ordinary body is transformed into a rainbow-like body and the individual lives for centuries for as long as they can benefit beings, appearing to them from time to time. Such was the case with both Vimalamitra and Guru Rinpoche.



Teachers Who Have Turned the Wheel of Dharma through 
the Colorado Ratnashri Sangha's 

Drikung Kagyu Teachers

Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche

Has taught;
2006: Loving Kindness & Bodhicita
2002: Ngondro
2001: Commentary on Drikung Bandhe Dharmaradza's The Jewel Treasury of Advice: A Hundred Teachings from the Heart.

Has given the following empowerments; Chenrezig.


His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche

Has taught;
2005: Loving kindness, Tuk Sum Nelek (Patrul Rinpoche's commentary on the 3 words that strike essential point)
2002: History of the Drikung, Bodhicitta, Mahamudra

Has given the following empowerments; Chod, Vajrayogini, Achi Choki Drolma, Chenrezig and Yamantaka. 


Drupon Ningpo Rinpoche

Has taught;
2006: Ngondro-Mandala-Guru Yoga, TBD
2005: Ngondro-Mandala, Phowa, Bardo, Bodhisattva Path
2004: Ngondro-Vajrasattva, Heart Sutra
2003: Ngondro-Refuge  

Has given the following empowerments; Achi Chokyi Drolma, Green Tara, Amitayus, Chenrezig, Yangzab 3 Roots Torwang, Mahakala, Vajrasattva.


Drupon Samten Rinpoche

Has taught;
2004: Tantric Ritual Items and Torma Making, Bardo Teachings. 

Has given the following empowerments; Vajra Vidharan, Guru Rinpoche, Vajrasattva, Shitro.


Khenpo Tsultrim
Has taught;
2002: Bardo, Phowa. 


Minam Rinpoche
Has taught;
2002: Tilopa's Mahamudra Upadesha, path of vajrayana.  Has given the following empowerments; Amitayus, Green Tara.


Teachers from other Lineages

Anyen Rinpoche - Nyingma Longchen Nyingthig

Has taught;
2006: Outer-Inner-Secret Commentary on the 7 Line prayer to Guru Rinpoche
2005: Dzogchen,


Younge Khachab Rinpoche - Kagyu/Nyingma

Has taught:
2006: Simhamukha Tummo, Dzogchen-3 AH's.
2005: Tsa-lung, Dorjo Drollo
2004: Wisdom, Tolerance & Compassion, Tsa- Lung, Guru Yoga from the Kunjed Gyalpo, Commentary on the first chapter of Longchenpa's treasure Choying Dzo , Uttaratantra, Interdependence, 4 Dharmas of Gampopa.

Has given the following empowerments; Chenrezig, Manjushri, Vajrapani, Younge Dorje Drollo, Rigpa Tsal and Simhamukha.



Loppon Rechungpa - Nyingma

Has taught;
2005: Commentary on Choying Dzo & Abhismayalamkara
2004: Bardo and Dzogchen, Longchenpa's Nelug Dzo or The Precious Treasury of the Way of Abiding.


H.H. Dorji Lopen - Drukpa Kagyu
Has taught;
2004: Introduction to the Jewel Ornament of Liberation & ngondro.  Has given the following empowerments; Milarepa, Amitayus, Unishavijaya, Medicine Buddha.


Tulku Nyima Gyaltsen - Sakya/Nyingma

Has taught;
2005: 6 Paramitas. 

Has given the following empowerments; Karma Lingpa's Shitro/Guhyagharba, Terdak Lingpa's Vajrasattva and the Nam Cho Medicine Buddha.



You should know that the master is more important
than the buddhas of a hundred thousand aeons,
Because all the buddhas of the aeons
Appeared through following masters.
There will never be any buddhas
Who have not followed a master.

The mater is the Buddha, the master is the Dharma.
Likewise the master is also the Sangha.
He is the embodiment of all the buddhas.
He is the nature of Vajradhara.
He is the root of the Three Jewels.

Keep the command of your vajra master
Without breaking even a fraction of his words,
If you breakthe command of your vajra master,
You will fall into the Unceasing Vajra Hell
From which there will be no chance for liberation.
By serving your master you will receive the blessings.

 - Padmasambhava







Longchen Nyingthig