On the Final Words of Orgyen Tendzin Norbu

Schools & Systems › Dzogchen | Buddhist Philosophy › Stages and Paths | Literary Genres › Testament | Tibetan MastersDodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima | Tibetan MastersOrgyen Tendzin Norbu

English | 中文 | བོད་ཡིག

Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima

Orgyen Tendzin Norbu

Further information:
Download this text:

On the Final Words of Orgyen Tendzin Norbu

by Dodrupchen Jigme Tenpe Nyima

Homage to the guru!

Our noble teacher, Orgyen Tendzin Norbu, trained in the five sciences and gained liberation through the path of the heart-essence of the Great Perfection. At the moment of his passing, he spoke the following verse as his final testament:

I am Guru Padmākara of Oḍḍiyāna,
A buddha free from birth and death.
Awakening mind is impartial and unbiased,
Beyond labels of the eight stages, the four pairs.

If I were to elaborate a little on the meaning of this:

Generally, all the various turnings of the wheel of Dharma by the Lord Buddha were offered purely in order to protect disciples from the miserable routine of birth, death and the intermediate state. Among these teachings, for the ultimate tradition of the heart-essence, which is the vajra pinnacle, there is no delusion in the condition of great primordial purity, the original ground, and yet, not recognising this, the appearances of delusion, which are the creative energy of rigpa, arise. Through the three types of ignorance – single identity, co-emergent and imputational – thoughts involving dualistic grasping develop, one after another, in an endless chain. Then, through grasping, we are drawn into the endless cycle of suffering caused by karma and mental afflictions.

Through recognising and becoming familiar with the actual nature of the essence, which is untainted by confusion, the delusions of birth and death are naturally averted. Yet we can not see the nature of this essence through intellectual speculation (rtog ge) or through a mind that is contrived. Instead, we must receive the nectar of ripening empowerments and liberating instructions from an authentic guru who has inherited the actual transmission. Then, by cultivating the devotion of seeing the guru as inseparable from the vajradhara of Oḍḍiyāna, our mind will be inspired with blessings and the guru’s wisdom mind will merge inseparably with our own mind. Through this, we will recognise the mind's natural condition, without contrivance or contamination, as the all-perfect, deathless Padmākara himself, then decide on that and gain stability. As this recognition is not generated through temporary causes and conditions, it is free from birth. And as it is not seen to increase or decrease or undergo transition or change, it is free from death. Thus, the attainment of birthlessness and deathlessness is bestowed naturally, in its own place, and when we gain the confidence of not seeking buddhahood elsewhere, there can be the lion’s roar proclaiming:

I am Guru Padmākara of Oḍḍiyāna,
A buddha free from birth and death.

When the nature of this awareness or awakening mind manifests, the appearances of birth and death are cast aside, the mind of fixated clinging is cut from within, and the cycle of conceptualisation is left behind.

Hopes and fears, or notions of adopting and avoiding, all focused on a nirvāṇa that is beyond conceptual elaboration, do not bring about any fragmentation of pure awareness, which is itself unsupported. Rather, whatever appears is its self-appearance, and whatever arises does so as its self-expression. All that might be labelled as subjective or objective throughout saṃsāra and nirvāṇa simply arises as the evolving manifestation of this pure awareness that is beyond partiality or bias. And these expressions dissolve within the ground. Once the stronghold of the ground is seized in its own place, this is superior to the original ground, as there is awakening within the sphere of the dharmakāya, the youthful vase body, clear light beyond confinement or restriction. Thus, the testament says:

Awakening mind is impartial and unbiased.

Therefore, in this vehicle there is no system of positing the fruition as something separate, as there is in the eight stages of the four pairs.[1] According to that approach, we regard delusory appearances as faults and train in a limited form of yoga, through which it is possible to overcome the ‘seeing discards’ of the three realms, but not the ‘meditation discards’ of the desire realm; or else, to enter that realm in order to discard them; or to discard most of the desire-realm afflictions; or to discard them all but not totally overcome the afflictions related to the two upper realms, with the result that the sufferings of birth and death are still not entirely overcome, and so on. Here, by contrast, out of the expanse of realisation of great, all-pervasive primordial purity, which is self-appearing and unbiased, all the grounds and paths are traversed at once. This point must be spelled out in detail, so the testament says:

Beyond labels of the eight stages, the four pairs.

This also shows how this is superior to the lower vehicles.

The meaning in a nutshell, then, is as follows:

Merging your own mind inseparably with the guru’s wisdom, settle evenly (without deliberately ‘settling’) in the genuine expanse of rigpa-emptiness. Then, at death, none of the terrifying delusory appearances of the intermediate state will cause awareness to stray from its own place. This ‘seizing of the stronghold’ is the essential message of the first three lines. It is the ultimate instruction for the moment of death within this tradition, and is also known as ‘the ultimate dharmakāya transference through sealing with the view’. For this, there is much to understand, such as the way to sustain it right now, as well as the way to apply it at the time of death.

The final line shows how this path is superior to the other vehicles, all of which require effort; it means that certainty in one’s own path must be stable.

To put it another way:

The first two lines show the means of achieving deathlessness through this path. Still, some might object that this alone would not make this the pinnacle of vehicles, because even the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas have a path that puts a stop to the sufferings of birth and death. In that case, it would suffice to offer the final line as a response and the third line as providing the reason.

In response to persistent requests from the faithful, diligent and intelligent Deshul Drakden, Tenpai Nyima quickly wrote down whatever came to mind on the third excellent day of the waning phase” (i.e., 27th) of the Phālguna month (dbo zla) in the Earth Bird year (1909).

| Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2015.


Tibetan Edition

Dad brtson blo ldan ’das shul grags ldan ngor gdams pa in rDo grub chen ’jigs med bstan pa’i nyi ma’i gsung ’bum. 7 vols. Chengdu: Si khron mi rigs dpe skrun khang, 2003. TBRC: W25007, vol. 2, pp. 21-25

Secondary Sources

Nor brang o rgyan. Chos rnam kun btus. 3 vols. Peking: Krung go’i bod rig pa dpe skrun khang, 2008.

Nyoshul Khenpo. A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems. Translated by Richard Barron. Junction City, California: Padma Publication, 2005. pp. 482-486

Pearcey, Adam. "Orgyen Tendzin Norbu" on Treasury of Lives www.treasuryoflives.com

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles: The Longchen Nyingthig Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. Boston: Shambhala, 1996.

Version: 1.6-20230213

  1. i.e., the four categories of stream-enterer (rgyun du zhugs pa), once-returner (lan gcig phyir ’ong ba), non-returner (lan gcig phyir mi ’ong ba) and arhat (dgra bcom pa), each of which can be further divided into the emerging (zhugs pa) and the established (gnas pa) to give eight categories in total. (See “skye bu zung bzhi’am gang zag ya brgyad” in Nor brang o rgyan, Chos rnam kun btus, vol.1, 493.)  ↩

This website uses cookies to collect anonymous usage statistics and enhance the user experience.