Mipham Rinpoche Series
From the murals of Shechen Monastery. Used with permission of Rabjam Rinpoche.
Through the blessings of the youthful Mañjuśrī, the union of awareness and emptiness,
You released the eight brilliant treasures,
Master of an ocean of treasure-like teachings of the Dharma in both aspects, transmission and realization—
To you, Mipham Rinpoche, Mañjuśrī in person, I pray!
Works by the great Nyingma polymath Jamgön Mipham Namgyal Gyatso (mi pham rnam rgyal rgya mtsho, 1846-1912), aka Ju Mipham ('ju mi pham), arguably the most influential Tibetan scholar of recent times:
Mipham Rinpoche gave this text in thirty-seven verses to the Third Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima as a sealed scroll while they were both at Dzongsar Monastery. Although the precise date is unclear, it seems likely that this was in or around 1886. The text is a mixture of personal, often cryptic advice and prophecy.
Properly titled Wondrous Talk Brought About by Conversing with a Friend (Grogs dang gtam gleng ba'i rkyen las mtshar gtam), this playful text pokes fun at followers of the Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyü and Gelug (or Gendenpa) schools, in order to highlight potential pitfalls associated with each tradition, while also pointing out the absurdity of sectarian prejudice in general.
In these six pithy verses, composed in 1896, Mipham explains the relative strengths of each of the four main Tibetan Buddhist Schools—Nyingma (rnying ma), Kagyü (bka' brgyud), Gelug (dge lugs) and Sakya (sa skya)—and appeals to their followers to tolerate and respect one another.
This short advice in verse explains the perfect equality (mnyam pa nyid) of the dharmadhātu (chos kyi dbyings), the space-like nature of phenomena, which, Mipham says, is a crucial point to understand in both sūtra and tantra. Mipham wrote this text in 1901.
In this short text, Mipham Rinpoche succinctly explains what is meant by the self of the individual (pudgalātman; gang zag gi bdag) and the 'self' (or identity) of phenomena (dharmātman; chos kyi bdag), and he describes how to become certain as to the non-existence of them both. The author also highlights the importance of distinguishing between a more superficial, conceptual understanding and a genuine, non-conceptual realization of ultimate reality.
This section of Gateway to Learning (mKhas 'jug) explains the so-called "Four Great Logical Arguments of the Middle Way" (dbu ma'i gtan tshigs chen po bzhi), which are: 1) investigation of the cause: the Diamond Splinters; 2) investigation of the result: refuting existent or non-existent results; 3) investigation of the essential identity: ‘neither one nor many’; and 4) investigation of all: the Great Interdependence. This translation also includes some comments from Khenpo Nüden's celebrated commentary.
Extracted from Gateway to Learning (mKhas 'jug), this section on the selflessness of the individual (gang zag gi bdag med) explains the absence of any permanent, unitary, independent and all-pervading self, either identical to or distinct from the five aggregates (pañcaskandhā; phung po lnga).
Composed in 1892 and appended to The Wheel of Analytical Meditation (dpyad sgom 'khor lo ma), this instruction continues that text's analysis, extending it to all phenomena. Its central message is that the nature of all things, i.e., appearance and emptiness, can only be fully understood through meditation.
One of Mipham's best known works, this treatise in 104 verses was written in just a single day in 1885. It is structured around the four principles of reasoning (rigs pa bzhi)—of causal efficiency, dependence, nature and establishing a proof—and the four reliances (rton pa bzhi), i.e., Rely not on the individual but the Dharma; Rely not on the words but the meaning; Rely not on the provisional but the definitive meaning; Rely not on ordinary consciousness but wisdom.
This short verse-text sets out to clarify the term "self-awareness" (rang rig; svasaṃvedana), especially as it is used in Dzogchen, and challenges those who reject the notion. Mipham points out that self-awareness is something to be experienced firsthand, not debated or speculated about.
Composed in a single day in 1891, this celebrated verse text offers a practical guide to meditating analytically on the multiplicity, impermanence, suffering nature and selflessness of the aggregates, as an antidote to the mental afflictions (kleśa; nyon mongs).
Also known as the "instruction that points directly to the very essence of mind in the tradition of ‘the old realized ones’ (rtogs ldan rgan po)", this is a pithy guide to Dzogchen meditation written for 'village yogis' and other practitioners without a background in study. It includes three separate instructions, for: 1) cracking open the egg-shell of ignorance, 2) cutting the web of saṃsāric existence, and 3) remaining in space-like equalness.
In this short text, Mipham Rinpoche attempts—by his own admission—to express the inexpressible. Aware of the challenge and the apparent contradiction, he nevertheless offers various descriptions of mind's ineffable essence "for the sake of those fortunate individuals who seek to penetrate the profound meaning of dharmatā."
In this, one of his most popular Dzogchen instructions, Mipham Rinpoche explains how to go beyond the initial stage of the recognition (ngo shes) of the face of rigpa, or pure awareness, to the subsequent stages of perfecting the strength (rtsal rdzogs) and gaining stability (brtan pa thob).
This popular prayer, which Mipham wrote in 1896, is addressed to the eight sugatas, eight bodhisattvas, eight goddesses of auspiciousness, and eight guardians of the world. It is recited at the outset of any virtuous project, or indeed any activity of any kind, in order to bring about auspiciousness, success and good fortune.
Prayers to Mañjuśrī
This praise of Mañjuśrī for increasing the power of one's intelligence consists of fourteen four-line verses—fourteen, says Mipham, being the number of vital essences (dwangs ma) in beings and the world. The text was written in 1906.
This brief 'first-portion' offering (phud mchod) to Gesar and his retinue for the sake of prosperity, which Mipham composed in 1872, is said to bring about "the four treasures of longevity, glory, wealth and prosperity," and fulfilment of all wishes and requirements.
- Sengchen Gesar Norbu: The Prayer and Offering to 'The Great Lion, Gesar the Jewel', that Spontaneously Accomplishes Activities | Gesar
This brief rite of offering and requesting Gesar to carry out activity was written in 1880. As with the other texts in this section of Mipham's works Gesar appears not only as powerful warrior-figure but as an enlightened emanation of Guru Padmasambhava.
- The Swift Infusion of Blessings: A Guru Yoga of the Great Embodiment of Unchanging Awareness Wisdom | Gesar
Mipham wrote this longer practice for offering the flag of windhorse (rlung rta) in 1903. It includes optional verses addressed to Gesar, Hayagrīva, Gaṇapati (tshogs bdag), and Magyal Pomra (rma rgyal spom ra), the protector of the Amnye Machen mountain range.
Prayers to Śākyamuni
Ju Mipham composed this sādhana of Śākyamuni Buddha, or '[Śākya]muni-ritual' (thub chog), at the request of Orgyen Tendzin Norbu (1841–1900). Both the sādhana and its vast 'supporting teaching' known as The White Lotus (rgyab chos padma dkar po) are among the most popular of Mipham's works.
Prayers to Guru Rinpoche
This short text in verse, written in 1902, outlines the twelve major deeds of Guru Padmasambhava, which are to be commemorated in the course of a year—a different deed being recalled on the tenth day of each month.
- Wang Dü: ‘The Great Cloud of Blessings’—The Prayer which Magnetizes All that Appears and All that Exists | Guru Rinpoche Prayers
This prayer of magnetising (dbang du bsdud pa) all appearance and existence, which Ju Mipham wrote in 1879, focuses on nine deities associated with magnetising: Padmasambhava in the form of Padmarāja or Pema Gyalpo (padma rgyal po), Vajradharma (rdo rje chos), Amitābha, Avalokiteśvara in the form of Padmapāṇi, Hayagrīva, Guhyajñāna, Vajravārāhī, Kurukullā and the King of Desire ('dod pa'i rgyal po). It was made popular in recent years by the late Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok.
This simple and popular guru yoga focusing is based on the famous seven-line prayer (tshig bdun gsol 'debs) to Guru Padmasambhava first revealed in the thirteenth century by Chökyi Wangchuk (1212–1270).
- Excellent Vase of Splendour: The Tsok Feast Offering to Accompany the Vajra Seven Line Prayer | Sādhanas
The Excellent Vase of Splendour (dpal gyi bum bzang) is the tsok feast offering (tshogs mchod) to accompany the famous guru yoga based on the seven-line prayer, A Shower of Blessings (byin brlabs char 'bebs).
This simple practice of Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, includes a visualisation to accompany the recitation of the six-syllable mantra, oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ, or, optionally, the seven-syllable mantra, oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ hrīḥ.