Authors: Matteo Pistono
“To be immersed in genuine, unfettered …”:
Nyoshul Khenpo 2005, page 245.
The knots of the eight worldly concerns …”:
Ibid., page 238.
“In the fourth month of the Water Hare year …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 220–222; Thupten Jampa 1998, pages 194–198 and 283.
“Both the Dalai Lama and Tertön Sogyal agreed …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 275–279.
“Qing troops arrived in 1904 in Litang …”:
Sperling 1976; Wim Van Spengen, “Frontier History of Southern Kham,” and William M. Coleman IV, “The Uprising at Batang,” in Epstein 2002.
“The age of degeneration will come …”:
Ibid., page 283.
“The formless demon will enter …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 285; prophecy by Shiba Lingpa, Chökyi Gyalpo Garwang Rigdzin (1524–1588).
“The prophecies were confirmed …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 341.
“The Fifth Dalai Lama called Dogyal a malicious spirit …”:
The most authoritative source in English on the origins of Dogyal (Dorje Shugden) is Dreyfus 1998. Also see Bultrini 2013. The Great Fifth Dalai Lama wrote in his biography (Dalai Lama, Fifth, n.d., Volume Kha, folio 239), “He is referred to as Dogyal because he is a Gyalpo (king demon) from Dol Chumig Karmo. Gyalpo is a class of interfering spirit. Since Shugden belongs to this group, he is also called Gyalchen (the great Gyalpo), a very powerful perfidious spirit (damsi), born from distorted prayers, who has been harming the teachings of the Buddha and sentient beings.”
“I bow down to you …”:
Bultrini 2013, page 271.
“One of the foreign forces …”:
Teichman 2000, pages 36–37. See also Epstein 2002 and Ho 2008. The epithet “Butcher Zhao” for Zhao Erfeng (Pinyin: Zhao Tufu) was coined around 1904 when he allegedly ordered the slaughter of 3,000 innocent people in Gulin county. See Zeng Guoqing,
Qingdai Zangshi Yanjiu
Studies of Tibetan history during the Qing dynasty
) (Lhasa: Xizang Renmin Chubanshe, 1999), as cited in Ho 2008.
“They reported atrocities by Qing troops …”:
Tripartite Conference between China, Britain, and Tibet 1940. See also Sperling 1976, page 87.
“Tertön Sogyal said …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 286.
“In deep meditative states …”:
The acts of vanquishing, whether by the sword of Butcher Zhao or the dagger of Tertön Sogyal, may appear similar in that they both remove an opponent; however, the crucial difference lies in the motivation. Butcher Zhao’s motivation was violent conquest and a willingness to harm anyone obstructing him. Tertön Sogyal was a different kind of warrior: his motivation was to prevent such violence and aggression, not allowing the aggressor to incur negative karma for himself and not to harm others. No trace of anger could be found in Tertön Sogyal’s motivation or actions, while his wrathful compassion gained intensity.
“Despite the many termas he had revealed …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 242.
“There, in Pemakö, my followers …”:
Ibid., page 291. Also see Khamtrul Rinpoche 2009 and Baker 2004.
“Two weeks later, Tertön Sogyal encountered …”:
For the discussion of hidden lands, see Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 293–300.
“The brutal accounts of destruction …”:
Zhao was an imperialist, and he knew that he had to break the influence of the monks and Buddhism among the Tibetans. The plan that Zhao laid out included (1) appointing Chinese officials to take over from the local authority (2) training more soldiers for security, (3) bringing in Chinese settlers to work the land, (4) opening mines and exploiting the mineral resources of the area, (5) instituting commerce on a scale capable of doing away with the problems of securing and transporting goods to and from the borderlands, and (6) promoting education so as to change the “barbaric customs” of the local people and make them civilized. See Sperling 1976, pages 76–77.
“They told Tertön Sogyal they had to flee …”:
Lama Wangde interview 2003.
“Yet Tertön Sogyal was told he could remove …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 321–325.
“In the final vision, Tertön Sogyal understood …”:
Ibid., pages 328–336.
“It was as Khyentse Wangpo had once said …”:
Jamgön Kongtrul 2012, page 16.
“He met the throne holders of Dzogchen …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 355. The Fifth Dzogchen Rinpoche, Thubten Chökyi Dorje, bestowed the empowerments of the Treasury of Precious Termas (
rin chen gter mdzod
), while the associated transmissions and instructions were granted by Gemang Choktrul.
“As he flowed in and out of these dream-like experiences …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 356–365.
“On the 29th day of the tenth month of the Earth Bird year …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 392–393. Thanks to Matthew Akester for original translation.
“Still, thousands of Chinese soldiers invaded …”:
Richardson 1984, page 99. See also Tsepon Shakabpa 1967, page 228; British Parliamentary Documents; FO 535/13, Further Correspondence Respecting the Affairs of Thibet; “Government of India to Viscount Morley,” enclosure 1 in no. 37 (March 3, 1910): 27.
“Although Padmasambhava has been so compassionate …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 411–413.
“Though Zhao experienced a gruesome death …”:
Teichman 2000, page 36, speaks of the death. Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 170, tells us that when Tertön Sogyal was informed about the death, he commented that Zhao Erfeng had been reborn in the pure land of Karma Heruka.
“The Dalai Lama wrote during this period …”:
Tsepon Shakabpa 1967, pages 246–248.
“Soon after Tertön Sogyal arrived in Golok … ”:
The Wangchen Bum tribes battled with the other two main Golok tribes of Akyong Bum and Padma Bum.
“The time and conditions now presented themselves to bring …”:
Tulku Thondup 1996, page 237.
“After the teaching, Patrul Rinpoche …”: The Way of the Bodhisattva
), Nyoshul Khenpo 2005, page 324; Tulku Thondup 1996, page 206.
“As lightning struck, Dodrupchen felt ill …”:
Nyoshul Khenpo 2005, page 325; Tulku Thondup interview 2007; Tulku Thondup 1996, page 242. Among the few visitors who were received for teachings were Tertön Sogyal, Rigdzin Chenpo of Dorje Drak, Katok Situ, Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, Garwa Tertön Long-yang, Terthang Choktrul, Tsultrim Zangpo, and Sera Ringtreng.
“It is raised as the crown of a high mountain …”:
Tulku Thondup 1996, pages 242–243.
“Crystalline lakes in the uplands are surrounded …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 456.
“If the people of Tibet have no devotion …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, page 412.
“Tertön Sogyal was told that he needed to find …”:
Ibid., page 415. See also Ju Mipham’s
(Ju Mipham Gyatso 2000).
“With Dodrupchen’s encouragement, Tertön Sogyal departed immediately …”:
Ibid., pages 466–476. See also Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche teaching 1990.
“With stable meditative concentration that did not waver …”:
Tsultrim Zangpo 1942, pages 469–472. See also Ju Mipham’s
(Ju Mipham Gyatso 2000).
“In 1912, the Northern Warlords Alliance appointed Ma Qi …”:
See Lipman 1984.
“Tertön Sogyal snarled at the warlord’s message …”:
Lama Wangde interview 2001; Khamtrul Rinpoche interview 2008.
“Alak Gurong was a charismatic polymath …”:
For a brief biography of Alak Gurong, Orgyen Jikdrel Chöying Dorje (1875–1932), known also as Gurong Tsang, see Schaeffer 2013, pages 711–714. It was Alak Gurong who taught the French explorer Alexandra David-Néel about Tibetan mysticism when they met in Amdo and Peking. David-Néel had requested Dzogchen teachings when they met. Gen Pema Wangyal of Washington, D.C., is currently researching the cultural nexus between Tibetan/Hui/Salar/Mongolian/Monguor/Han peoples of northeastern Tibet in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, focusing on the lives of prominent people such as Alak Gurong, Tertön Sogyal, Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Lap Chamgon, the Ma family, and others.
Alak Gurong and the yogis …”: Secret Essence Tantra (Guhyagarbha Tantra; ryud gsang ba’I snying po).
“Devotees and yogis sought his meditation instructions …”:
It was during this time that the scholar-poet Gendün Chöphel, then in his youth, met Tertön Sogyal. The young boy went with his mother to seek Tertön Sogyal’s blessing during an Avalokiteshvara empowerment for the public. Tertön Sogyal’s stern but magnificent presence initially startled the young boy; he saw the tertön’s face with its bluish complexion, his long cheekbones, and the crowned dreadlocked hair tied by a red string. During the empowerment, Tertön Sogyal saw Gendün Chöphel in the crowd and said, “Bring that boy to me.” When they came face-to-face, Gendün Chöphel asked Tertön Sogyal to guide his recently deceased father in the states in between death and his next rebirth. Tertön Sogyal tenderly held the young boy’s hands and told him he would do so and that he and his mother should return the next day. Tertön Sogyal bestowed an empowerment upon them the following day and placed a protection amulet around Gendün Chöphel’s neck. He told the mother that the boy was an incarnate lama from the Nyingma tradition, and that he should study Padmasambhava’s teachings, “but the Gelug will probably take you away.” Years later, after Gendün Chöphel traveled to India and returned with progressive ideas he wanted to share with the county, narrow-minded Tibetan government officials in Lhasa imprisoned him on charges of sedition. See Mengele 1999. See also Stoddard 1985; Schaedler 2005; and Lopez 2007.
“Back at Gurong’s residence of Mandigar …”:
The small encampment of Mandigar, situated above the Yellow River in the area of Drakkar Nankar of Jentsa, was blessed in the past by Je Tsongkhapa’s teacher, the great Kadam master Choje Dondrub Rinchen, when he did retreat in the caves and Shachung Temple along the river.
“With a flash the photo was taken …”:
Regarding the story about the photograph, I collected oral histories from the late Gurong Gyalse (Alak Gurong’s son) via Humchen Chenaktsang in Xining, as well as from Alak Sertar in Rebkong and Khamtrul Rinpoche in Dharamsala. See also Orgyen Dongkawa 2000. Thanks to Gen Pema Wangyal in Washington, D.C., Gray Tuttle, and Matthew Kapstein for their assistance in researching Alak Gurong. For more information and photographs of Alak Gurong and family, see Da lta ba 2005, Gurong Tsang 1994, and Humchen Chenaktsang and Yeshe Ozer Drolma 2005. There is said to be at least one other photograph of Tertön Sogyal that is currently in the possession of Gurong Tsang, Orgyen Tenzin, of Jentsa, who is the reincarnation of Alak Gurong Orgyen Jikdrel Chöying Dorje.
“On the advice of his most trusted confidant …”:
Li Dan (1871–1938) was from a traditional Chan Buddhist aristocratic family from Hunan. According to Ma Rong, a student of Li Dan, who has written for the Qinghai Cultural History Research Bureau, Li Dan’s grandfather was governor of Yunnan-Guijo and a highly regarded scholar whose calligraphy was sought throughout China, a skill Li Dan inherited. Li Dan was sent to Gansu (at the time Qinghai was part of greater Gansu) and there he met Ma Qi. They immediately established mutual respect because of their similar political views. Ma Qi admired Li Dan for being soft-spoken, for having profound knowledge of spiritual and political matters, and for his stable advice. Li Dan admired Ma Qi for his openness and frankness. Ma Qi took Li Dan as his principal advisor. Li Dan told Ma Qi, “In order to control Qinghai, you must get along well with the Tibetans and Mongols.” On the advice of Li Dan, Ma Qi started what would become the annual Offering Ceremony to Lords of Lake Kokonor, which the Tibetans and Mongolians greatly appreciated. When the news of Ma Qi’s friendship with the locals became known in Peking, he received praise and was eventually appointed Governor of Qinghai. Ma Qi continued to consult with Li Dan on all matters, including the military, education, and development. Li Dan was close to Alak Gurong of Jentsa and Lap Chamgon of Yushu, a prominent Gelug lama. Soon after Li Dan came to Qinghai, he translated Tsongkhapa’s
Praise of Dependent Origination (rten ‘brel bstod pa)
and Mipham Rinpoche’s
Treatise on Advice to Rulers: Specifically the King of Derge (rgyal po’i lugs kyi bstal bcos)
. Li Dan’s Tibetan name was Dame Dorje (Egoless Vajra). In 1920, at the Old Temple in Xining, he established the “Tibetan Xining Research Center,” where many scholars would eventually train; and he composed a Tibetan grammar book, a Tibetan-Chinese dictionary, a Tibetan medical and herbal remedy book, and treatises on Abhidharma, the Paramitas, Madhyamaka, and Tibetan proverbs. Li Dan would go on to influence Chinese foreign policy, including China’s withdrawal from the Simla Accord. Li Dan recommended maintaining harmonious relations with the Thirteenth Dalai Lama and was close to Geshe Sherab Gyatso, a Tibetan lama who, after falling out of favor with the Lhasa political establishment, worked with both the Nationalist Government of the Republic of China and later the Communist of the People’s Republic of China. Thanks to Gen Pema Wangyal for his assistance in Xining and Washington, D.C. For a biography of Ma Qi, see Funchen Fun 2013.