Short Story of Life and Liberation
A Short Story of the Life and Liberation of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
As Told by Himself
From the Supplement to the Lineage Masters of Thangtong Gyalpo’s Whispered Transmission (Thangtong Nyen Gyü)
I, who am gorging myself on offerings in the name of the great being Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, was born as a son of the great vidyādhara and accomplished master Gyurme Tsewang Gyatso, and Tsultrim Tsomo, in the year of the Female Water Snake (1893).
When I was seven years old, Jamgön Kongtrul told Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo’s nephew, the omniscient Situ Rinpoche, about the prophecy of my being the activity emanation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, one of the five emanations of that great master.
Jamgön Kongtrul added that because Kathok is a place of activity, and because Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo was the activity emanation of Langdro Lotsāwa, whose last incarnation was the great tertön Longsal Nyingpo from Kathok monastery, they should look after me there.
I attended and followed the instructions of my kind tutor, Khenpo Thubten Rigdzin Gyatso, at Kathok’s ‘Middle Retreat’ place, until the age of twelve. He taught me to write, read and so on, thanks to which I can now present myself before others without embarrassment.
After my tutor passed away, I stayed at the tantric college of Kathok monastery for nearly two years. There I received teachings from Khenpo Kunpal Rinpoche and other khenpos on most of the great texts.
The all-knowing Kathok Situ Rinpoche, Adzom Drukpa Rinpoche, Shechen Gyaltsab Rinpoche, the omniscient Dodrupchen Rinpoche, the great master that was my father, and others, taught me the Dharma of the Nyingma tradition.
From Dorje Chang Loter Wangpo, Jamgön Ngawang Lekpa, Khenpo Samten Lodrö, Tartsé Shyabdrung Jampa Kunzang Tenpé Nyima, the lord of yogis Drakri Tashi Gyatso and others, I received transmissions beyond measure, mostly of the profound Dharma teachings of the Sakyas.
In brief, I received teachings related to the Dharma from more than eighty different teachers, and although I listened to numerous profound instructions of both the Nyingma and the Sarma traditions, I haven’t taken any of them to heart.
Going to Dzongsar
When I was staying at Kathok, I became the labrang representative to beg for alms (domtsap) and was sent to collect offerings on the lord Kathok Situ’s behalf. During my fourteenth year, I went to stay at Dzongsar, the seat of the previous incarnation Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. As the summer and winter alms were gathered, I became burdened by the responsibility for the immeasurable amount of food that was offered (kor), as the ripened karmic results regarding the use of offerings are so heavy.
I mimicked the approach and accomplishment of Nyingma and Sarma practices, meeting the required number of recitations, doing approach retreat (nyenpa) for more than thirty different yidam deities. At those times, I never had the thought, “This is a sign of accomplishment!” Indeed, my devotion and diligence were rather weak.
As for the Dharma transmissions I have given over time, I have transmitted the Treasury of Terma Revelations (Rinchen Terdzö) once; the Compendium of Sādhanas (Drubtap Kuntü) four times; the Private Instructions for the Path together with its Fruition (Lamdre Lobshé) four times; the Treasury of Instructions (Damngak Dzö) three times; four or five times the Nyingma Kama; and five times the Whispered Lineage of Thangtong Gyalpo (Tangtong Nyen Gyü),
I have given many times the Heart-Essence of the Mahāsiddha (Drupchen Tuktik), a mind terma revealed by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, and other similar transmissions. I have also passed on many times the Longchen Nyingtik, Khachöma, Nyingtik Yabshyi, Maṇḍalas of the Ngor Tradition and so on, and the great empowerments of Kālacakra for both the tradition of Jonang and the Shalu lineage.
Building & Production
I established a new study college (shedra) and a retreat centre (drupdra).
In Kathok, after Situ Rinpoche passed into parinirvāṇa, I helped the holders of the ‘teaching throne’ of Kathok for fourteen years.
After the noble lord passed away, I restored the foundations of the tantric college, which had eroded completely, for the forty-two khenpos and students there. I also constructed a new Buddha (Great Sage) temple and commissioned the images and other enlightened representations to be housed within it. I didn’t just speak about such projects, but directed towards them the vast funds that were given to me out of devotion.
In Dzongsar I made many representations like the great statue of Maitreya. I published the collected works of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, my predecessor, after much effort to gather all his scattered writings into thirteen volumes. I published commentaries on the great texts, three volumes of the Small Collection of Khachöma Texts (Kachö Be’u Bum), and more besides.
When I reached the age of forty-nine, I fell very ill for a few years. At around fifty-five or fifty-six, based on the auspicious interdependence of a companion for the secret path, and through the power of the blessings of my lama and the Three Jewels, I recovered some of my vitality.
The Last Years on Pilgrimage
During my sixty-third year, on the twenty-third day of the sixth month, I left my homeland and went on pilgrimage in the holy land of India and Tibet. I made offerings with my own hands to accomplish the accumulations. I performed purification ceremonies, consecration rituals, fulfilment practices, and, to my satisfaction, repeatedly made aspiration prayers for the welfare of beings in the world at large and in Tibet and Kham in particular. I gave numerous transmissions to the holders of the precious throne of Sakya, and to many people in charge of the great monastery. And I prayed that, whilst I am alive, I may accomplish my aspirations for the benefit of the teachings and beings.
I haven’t had any visions or received any prophecies, and have only ever known delusional experiences and dreams, which are just hallucinations and fabrications. That is why I have forgotten most of them. Even though I have written some of these down, there is little purpose.
Once, after I came to Dzongsar—in my sixteenth year, I believe—something of that nature happened. I had strong faith in the Heart-Essence of the Mahāsiddha cycle of my predecessor Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, and, as I was invoking the Mahāsiddha Thangtong Gyalpo, in the corner where Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo used to sleep, the Mahāsiddha actually appeared, about a single cubit in height. He placed a crystal sphere in front of himself, and spoke the words that Guru Rinpoche used when giving the introduction to Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo:
Unstained by seductive perceptions,
Not captured by grasping thoughts,
Remaining in the naked, empty rigpa:
This is the mind of all the buddhas.
In this way, he introduced me to the nature of my mind. This dream helped me to fulfil my purpose, but that is all.
Outwardly, I appear as a lama, while the fire of the five poisons rages inside, and on the innermost level I am under the power of thoughts and concepts. This was the Namtar of the old monk that I am.
At the strong insistence of Khen Rinpoche Khechok Ngawang Lodrö, and also due to the request of Dar Khenchen, this supplement to the biographies of the masters of Thangtong Gyalpo’s Whispered Lineage was written by Chökyi Lodrö.
Translated by Gyurme Avertin, with the kind assistance of Pewar Rinpoche, 2010. First published on Lotsawa House, 2016.