Authors: Matteo Pistono
“Sonam Gyalpo recognized the letters …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 17.
“We are what we think …”:
Byrom 1993, verses 1–2, “Choices,” pages 1–2.
As a caravan wove its way in single file …”:
Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche teaching 1985; Khamtrul Rinpoche teachings 1992 (a), 1992 (b).
“O sublime and precious bodhichitta …”:
Translation of prayer courtesy Rigpa.
“The monk’s prayer of
bodhicitta …”: The stories of the monk-pilgrim, and the pregnant mare, are from Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche teaching 1985; Khamtrul Rinpoche teachings 1992 (a), 1992 (b), interview 2008.
“It was as Nyala Pema Dündul had once written …”:
“Signs that the Common Preliminary Practices Have Penetrated the Mind.” Translator: Adam Pearcey.
“Dargye scolded his son …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 21.
Om Mani Padme Hum …”: Ajam Rinpoche interviews 2001, 2007.
“Standing on tiptoes …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 20–21.
“I have promised to constantly survey …”:
Yeshe Dorje 2013, page 103.
“The One-Eyed Protectress captured …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 20–21.
“As his condition improved …”:
Ibid., page 22. Sogyal wrote down the liturgy for a practice of the Lion-Faced Dakini (
seng ge gdong ma
). Because he had no ink or paper, he dusted an oiled wood slat to write upon and thereafter memorized it.
“Pema Dündul frequented many hermitages …”:
The peak is referred to as the “conch-colored crystal rock piercing the sky,” and villagers tell pilgrims that merely hearing, seeing, recalling, or touching the mountain has the power to bring one to realize his innermost nature. It is also known as Lhang Lhang or Shangdrak. See also
for a translation by Adam Pearcey of Pema Dündul’s poem entitled “The Heaven of Solitude.”
“The last years of retreat in his cave …”:
Ajam Rinpoche interview 2001; Sherab Ozer interview 1998. This is the cave where Pema Dündul discovered the treasure text known as
Self-Liberation that Encompasses Space
mkha’ khyab rang grol
). Lama Sonam Thaye was the scribe.
“Pema Dündul wasted no time in securing sponsorship …”:
See Yeshe Dorje 2013, page 173, regarding frescoes in Kalzang Temple.
“Pema Dündul decided that Sogyal should first …”:
Lama Sonam Thaye, Chomden Dorje, was one of the two heart-sons, or chief disciples, of Nyala Pema Dündul, the other being the senior Tertön Rangrik Dorje. Sonam Thaye was renowned as an emanation of Gyalwa Chokyang, one of the 25 disciples of Padmasambhava. Born into the family of Akalbu, he became a yogi who dressed in white and wore his hair in a topknot. He assisted in the construction of Kalzang Temple and took responsibility for many of Pema Dündul’s disciples after their master attained the rainbow body.
“He and his students were a hard-nosed …”:
The lineage of Nyala Pema Dündul’s teachings passed to his two main disciples, Tertön Rangrik Dorje of Lumorap and Lama Sonam Thaye, and these were known respectively as the “sun” and “moon” lineages. The “sun” lineage passed down through Tertön Rangrik Dorje and eventually to Minling Trichen Rinpoche, while Lama Sonam Thaye transmitted the “moon” lineage to Tertön Sogyal, and to Sempa Dorje, the reincarnation of one of Nyala Pema Dündul’s first masters. Sempa Dorje transmitted the teachings to Anye Tulku Pema Tashi. Sempa Dorje’s reincarnation was Sherab Özer Rinpoche (1922/3–2006), abbot of Kalzang Temple. On August 12, 1998, Sherab Özer Rinpoche performed a ceremony in Lerab Ling in southern France, during which he offered the throne of Kalzang Temple to Sogyal Rinpoche as the heir to Tertön Sogyal.
“Whether the darkness of delusion has been eliminated …”:
Excerpted from “Advice Revealing How Our Faults Become Clear.” Translator: Adam Pearcey.
“Drikok is west, over that mountain pass …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 22–24. Drikok is near Dzongshö Deshek Dupe, a sanctuary set among limestone cliffs in a steep northern tributary of the Dzi Chu, east of Ragchab and south of Terlung. Jamgön Kongtrul opened the site and revealed treasures in association with Chogyur Lingpa and encouraged the establishment of a hermitage. See Jamgön Kongtrul 2012, pages 191–192.
“Sonam Thaye accepted and directed …”:
Lama Sonam Thaye taught Sogyal the main terma revelation of Tertön Longsal Nyingpo (1625–1692), whose name is also the title of the terma:
klong gsal snying po
(The Vajra Heart Essence of the Luminous Expanse). Thanks to Venerable Ngawang Senge for sharing his unpublished translation of
The Vajra Heart Essence of the Luminous Expanse
, and his insightful comments on Tertön Sogyal. See also Ronis 2009.
“You will place no importance on home …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 27–29.
“As Pema Dündul had said to Sogyal …”:
Ibid., page 27.
“By contemplating how his ultimate contentment …”:
Ibid., pages 24–26.
“Give it all away—offer it to your guru …”:
Ibid., pages 28–29.
“Pema Dündul bestowed tantric empowerments …”:
Ibid., pages 35–37. All together, Sogyal received about a volume’s worth of transmissions from Nyala Pema Dündul in visions. This included principally Nyala Pema Dündul’s main treasure,
Self Liberation that Encompasses Space
mkha’ khyab rang grol
), a mind treasure of the One Hundred Peaceful and Wrathful Deities (
zhi khro rigs brgya
), Guru Drakpo (
gu ru drag po
), among others. Sogyal said, “They all arrived like a mind treasure.”
“Emaho! The View is like the sky …”:
Rigpa International 2000.
“Pema Dündul’s realizations surpassed …”:
For “rainbow body,” see Tulku Thondup 2011, pages 78–93; Sogyal Rinpoche 1992, pages 167–169.
“Though the tertön may know of the location …”:
For a general discourse on treasures and their revelation, see Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 638–655; Tulku Thondup 1986.
“In the first month of the Wood Dog year …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 37.
“Hum. Padmasambhava and your hosts of dakinis …”:
This prayer is found within the Le’u Dünma—A Prayer in Seven Chapters to Padmakara. See also
and Ngawang Zangpo 2002.
“This is the special method of tertöns …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 635.
“Spontaneously perfect, illusory manifestation …”: Vajrakilaya Lineage Prayer
composed by Tertön Sogyal. The colophon reads, “Sogyal, who holds the name of a tertön and who has the great fortune to have been cared for by this supreme of all yidam deities throughout the course of several lifetimes, wrote this during a break in retreat. Jayantu!” Translation courtesy Rigpa.
“Sogyal one-pointedly practiced
The Most Secret …”: Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 40–41.
“Indeed, Padmasambhava had warned tertöns …”:
Yeshe Tsogyal 1993, page 145.
“The purpose of Vajrakilaya’s wrath …”:
Khenpo Namdrol 1999, page 25. There came to be three traditions that stemmed from Padmasambhava’s original transmission of the Vajrakilaya instructions. They are referred to as “The Tradition of the King” (through Trisong Detsen), “The Tradition of Jomo” (through his Tibetan consort, Yeshe Tsogyal), and “The Tradition of Nanam” (through Nanam Dorje Dudjom, Tertön Sogyal’s previous incarnation). The Vajrakilaya terma revelations by Tertön Sogyal belong to “The Tradition of Nanam” as well as those revealed by Khenpo Jikme Phuntsok.
“The most important role of the treasure holder …”:
Treasure holders, guardians, or custodians, teach the text themselves and/or arrange for the textual transmission from a qualified master. They also have the responsibility of publishing the treasure teaching, an expensive endeavor involving woodblock carving, and purchasing paper and ink.
“In the treasures’ prophetic guide …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 42.
“Khyentse, along with his close friend …”:
See Ringu Tulku 2007; Smith 1970. Also, in his
Overview of the Philosophical Foundations of the Different Buddhist Traditions
, Dungkar Lobsang Thinley explains the different implications of what it means to be Rime or nonsectarian: “The phrase ‘non-sectarian unbiased approach to Dharma’ can be understood in two ways. According to the first, rather than point to a single tradition as your own, you practice all traditions, Sakya, Nyingma, Gelug, Kadam, et cetera, and hence you are said to have ‘a catholic approach to Dharma,’ as exemplified by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama. As he practiced the philosophies of all traditions, there are different opinions as to what his actual view was. Gelugpas say the Great Fifth’s was a Gelug view while Nyingmapas say the Great Fifth’s was a Nyingma view. Why the discrepancy? His collected writings contain many Nyingma, Gelug, Kagyu works, and more besides, all of which are consistent with the distinctive views held by the relevant traditions. Thus, when you read his Nyingma writings, you get the impression he really subscribed to the Nyingma view and when you read his Sakya writings, you get the impression he really subscribed to the Sakya view. As for the second way to understand the phrase ‘non-sectarian approach to Dharma,’ if you are a Gelugpa, for example, then while regarding other traditions like the Nyingma as authentic, you remain impartial to them and never disparage, refute, criticize, or look down upon them, you are said to have ‘an unbiased approach to Dharma.’” Translation courtesy Venerable Lozang Zopa. The four lamas most often associated with the Rime are Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgön Kongtrul, Chogyur Lingpa, and Ju Mipham Gyatso. There were other great lamas as well, including the great Dzogchen Bön master Shardza Trashi Gyaltsen (1859–1934).
“While respecting other approaches …”:
Though Khyentse held a position in the hierarchy of the Sakya school, and Kongtrul was raised in the Bön tradition, the indigenous religion of Tibet, and was a lineage holder in the Kagyu school, both lamas were above all Dzogchen adepts.
“But nothing came of the ruffians’ challenges …”:
Lama Wangde interview 2001.
“It was believed that some such charlatans …”:
Tulku Thondup 1986, page 154.
“I have compared the script on the golden parchment …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 43–44. The other terma scrolls were from Nangrel Nyima Ozer, Guru Chowang, and Chogyur Dechen Lingpa.
“Tertön Sogyal and Khyentse spoke …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 44. Also, Tertön Sogyal said that “the moment the sublime great being [Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo] received this terma teaching, all the obstacles to my future general and specific treasure revelations were eliminated, allowing my activity to flourish in the ten directions” (Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 42). Orgyen Topgyal Rinpoche (teaching 1996) said, “There were five disciples of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo who were great tertöns: Chogyur Dechen Lingpa, Lerab Lingpa [Tertön Sogyal], Bönter Tsewang Drakpa, Khamtrul Rinpoche Tenpe Nyima, and the old king of Ling, Lingtsang Gyalpo.”
“Rather, stay true to your mission …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 43. Khyentse also told Sogyal, “From now on, you shall be a great tertön due to your vast aspirations from earlier times, and you will encounter great connections with karmically aspired friends, and you will find favorable circumstances for the Dharma—this you will accomplish.”
“Should she become your spiritual consort …”:
Ajam Rinpoche interview 2001; Lama Wangde interviews 2001, 2004.
“Such consorts ensure that no obstacles …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 100–130, 635.
“Tertön Sogyal practiced yoga to gain control …”:
See Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 105–115. Because carnal desire is the predominant characteristic driving mundane sexual engagements, the end result is normally loss of vitality. Yogic practices in this context are meant to reverse this norm. Transcending carnal desires, tantric yogis engage in union whereby both male and female practitioners melt vital essence of the subtle body and drip it into the central meridian; then, instead of the usual outward energy-depleting current, the flow of essences is reversed. Pulling the vital essence up the central meridian, the life-force is spread throughout the intersecting chakras, increasing the intensity of nonconceptual bliss, which fans the flames of wisdom realization of the nature of reality.
“Inner signs were evident …”:
Ibid., page 367. Conceptual thoughts move upon the body’s karmic winds, just like a rider upon a horse. Tertön Sogyal was able to gather and contain his karmic winds in his central meridian, thereby arresting the flow of thoughts, allowing his timeless awareness to pervade.
“Don’t prolong the past …”:
This story of Patrul Rinpoche in Katok is from “The Enlightened Vagabond” (Ricard, n.d.).
Words of My Perfect Teacher (kun bzang bla ma’i zhal lung).