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The Guidebook to the Hidden Land of Pemokö
by Jatsön Nyingpo (1585-1656)
The Guidebook to the Hidden Land of Pemokö is a revealed treasure text (gter ma), included in the Könchok Chidü. It is a prediction text (lung bstan) about the future degenerate times and purportedly the first guidebook to the hidden land of Pemokö.
E MA HO! One such as I, the Lake-Born Padmasambhava, meandered throughout India like a river for 3028 [years] and stayed in the region of Ü in central Tibet for 111 years. In Chāmara, the country of the rākṣasa demons, I led the red-faced [cannibals] to the Dharma. I established all beings in happiness.
Even still, forty eons in the future, famine and poverty will arise from desire, proliferating war will arise from hatred, different forms of pestilence will arise from delusion, and various torments will arise from the three poisons in equal measure. At that time, sentient beings will have no opportunities for happiness, and the Turkish armies will invade every direction. Alas! What a surging wave of misery!
Although it might be possible to escape to the sixteen greater and lesser hidden lands, due to the power of negative karma, very few will escape. The wealthy will be caught by the noose of avarice, and those who have heirs will deceive one other. The elderly will lose the will to travel, children will be unable to find the path, and animals will just up and die. Such is the ripening of negative karma for beings without refuge!
As a sign of the ripening of such karma for beings devoid of a protection, there will also be these outer, inner, and secret bad omens: sudden avalanches will occur on Mt. Kailash, lightning and hail will destroy the region of Ngari, earthquakes will destroy the borderlands of Tibet and China, heretical doctrines will multiply in Nepal, and samaya-breakers, māras, and elemental spirits will overrun Ü and Tsang.
In the region of Dokham, destructive wildfires will burn alive tens of thousands of sentient beings, causing [the survivors] to wander the scorched earth. There will be many mad dogs and crazed people in the lands of Jar, Dak, and Nyal. Suffering and pestilence will blanket Drak, Long, and Nyang. Many multifarious maladies will steam forth from the mouths of the people of Hor and Mongolia. The majority will die as medicine will prove ineffective. Provocations and elemental spirits from the east, wild men, predatory animals, and barbarians from the south, poisonous commerce of warfare from the west, and Hor, Mongols, and Turks from the north— all these will spread! Countless bolts of lightning as well as hailstones and meteorites will descend from the vast sky. Multiple earthquakes will shake the ground. Bright stars and white lights will appear over and over again, and the red light of the god of fire will fill the sky.
Orchards and crops will be blighted and bear no fruit. Due to famine, generations of families will repeatedly face ruin. Rain will fall sporadically, and there will be great depressions and caverns in the earth. The ground will collapse, rock faces will subside, rivers will overflow, and there will be many wildfires. When all these things occur, the signs of illness will arise: people will be physically stunted and possess a great desire for destructive actions. They will debauch themselves as much as possible. All of this will appear like the rising of a storm.
At that time, various kinds of [cultural] ornamentation and weaponry will spread, there will be a great trend of new people, new languages, and new fashion. The jewelry and attire of the borderlands will spread into the centre of the country, while the appearance of the ordained living in the centre of the country will disperse to the borderlands.
At that time, the appearance of both sūtra and mantra practitioners will be in disarray, new doctrines will arise like a whirling blizzard, and unusual treatises will pervade the land. Confidence in the Mahāyāna will fade in the face of individual fabrications of sophistry. Demonic emanations appearing in the guise of dharmic practitioners will become ubiquitous while individuals who attain accomplishment will be as rare as stars in broad daylight.
At that time, most beings will be under the power of Māra. Towns will be lawless like a mālā with a broken cord. There will be no compensation for murder or maiming [a member]. Wicked individuals will win arguments, and robbery and stealing will be rife. What spiritual friends there are will have short lives, the meaning of meditation will go unlearned, and people will learn to be competitive in arts and technology. Some people, seeking to destroy their delusion, will eat human flesh and solely devote themselves to the misguided conduct of depriving beings of their lives.
At that time, an emanation of Gyalwa Chokyang will be born on the north-east border and will gain widespread fame. All who hear of him will be led to Sukhāvatī (Dewachen), by the very same [emanation] Vajradharmadhātu.
The teachings will be confused [as the perplexed people] won’t understand the [correct] ordering of them. Internally the people will be in disarray, and externally they will [appear] Chinese. These will be the secret signs of their appearance. At that time, all the countryside will be in complete turmoil! All men and women, lay and ordained, and livestock will be distraught! Even the eight classes of gods and demons, the non-humans, will be upset. As there will be external fighting, internally the mind will be conflicted! The channels and winds will be muddled, as if one had drunk poison, and people will lack self-confidence. This is definitely the magical ploys of demons. After that, there will be an emanation of Nine Gönpo demon brothers, bearing the name Duk Lung because of whom a singular act harmful to the whole of Tibet will arise.
For these reasons there exist the sixteen great hidden lands. Concerning the great place Pemokö: east of Samye there is a valley called Dakpo, and if you follow the river, there is a valley that resembles a prone scorpion. Atop the tip of the tail sits a site called Gyala, which is the extraordinary supreme sacred site of Yama, Lord of Death. From there you can continue to follow the river, or, alternately, going towards Kukar pass is also acceptable, where there is the great charnel ground, Tsenmo Mebar. In the east, it is similar to a gathering of wildlife with a base [shaped] like upward climbing scales. Behind there is a mountain in the shape of an open flower, resembling a brandished weapon. About seven furlongs away is a place where the gods and [ravenous] rākṣasa gather. There are many large and small border stones, and then the four doors to the sacred site.
At Drangtsi Drak, perform a hundred feast offerings, make smoke offerings, and declare the power of the words of truth. Then there is the so-called Ziknang Drak, which reveals the reflection of all who gaze upon it. Then there is a great eddy in the river and a large tree about two arm spans in width, with a fragrance like incense and a pungent flavour. You will be able to make a bridge by felling it. There are many such big trees, so sharpen your tools. There is a stone stūpa as big as Mt. Meru then, there is a place called Rabtröling. All visions that are seen will appear as if they are real. There are [also] many stone crossings.
Then you will arrive at Namdak Jatsön Ling, a place which appears to be endowed with the eight auspicious signs and the eight articles. The smell of incense billows everywhere and the streams murmur with the sound of the rulu [mantra]. This is a place where meditative concentration arises spontaneously.
Then there is a small mountain pass called Jokpama, where the path has the shape of the syllable bhyo, the earth has an eight-petalled lotus, and there is an eight-spoked wheel in the sky. The surroundings feature the eight auspicious symbols and the eight auspicious articles.
To the east of the place called Gumik Lingtsé is Namdak Köpa as well as Melong Köchung, to the south is Palden Köpa as well as Yönten Köchung, to the west is Pemo Köpa as well as Pemo Köchung, to the north is Lerab Köpa as well as Drakpo Köchung, and in the centre is Tayé Köpa. The area of the Five Köchen is one hundred and eighty furlongs, and the Four Köchung extend for thirty-five furlongs. The perimeter is surrounded by snow and rock, and a rain of flowers falls continuously from the sky. When the seasons change, if one flees the four places—China, Jang, Lo, and Kong—then one will be satisfied by escaping to the place [of Pemokö]. Each and every area is sealed by mountain passes, rivers, and cliffs. There will be no risk of conflict or strife,
At that time, the emanation of the Guru will gradually show the path. Remember [me] Orgyen at all times and recite the Guru Pema Siddhi [Hūṃ mantra]. This will clear away obstacles and adversity. I will appear vividly to those who have undoubting faith in me and longingly keep me in the centre of their hearts. Continuously sing heartfelt supplications and I will also come as sundry sounds. Visualise [me] either above the crown of your head or in front of you, and you will be able to perceive me directly. Let everyone during the five hundred [degenerate] years humbly beseech me, Padmākara, and take refuge in me. Compared to other Buddhas, my compassion is swift. Even if we do not meet in this life, I will certainly dispel suffering in the intermediate state. For me, there is nothing more than the welfare of beings. Whatever one wishes will be spontaneously accomplished.
Amongst the sixteen hidden lands, whoever hears of or recalls this great Pemokö, their karmic obscurations will be purified. Even walking or riding seven steps in its direction will certainly result in being born there. Performing seven full prostrations while visualising this [place] will lead to becoming a Non-Returner and no longer wandering in cyclic existence. Whoever surely arrives here will obtain the indestructible rainbow body.
Even drinking a single drop of water or eating a pinch of herb will pacify sufferings such as chronic illness and clear dulled sense faculties. The elderly too will take on youthful forms. Those with bad karma, who do not recall the excellent dharma, will, by virtue of travelling to this sacred site, become self-liberated accomplished ones.
Consuming the earth and stones of this place, even at the end of one’s [karmic] lifespan, will extend life by hundreds and thousands of years. If feeling cold, wear the union of fire and wind as clothing. If thirsty, enjoy ambrosial water. If hungry or destitute, live on corn, the five kinds of cereal, and the fruits from trees. There is no physical pain or mental suffering, and there is no need for conflict or sloth. The primordial wisdom of the [union of] emptiness, luminosity, and the self-blazing warmth of bliss will arise. The majority of fruit is about the size of a horse’s head, unhusked wheat and barley grains the size of an apricot stone, and radishes and turnips [so large] people can barely lift them. There is no need to grind salt as the food is comparable to nectar and equal in potency to the sustenance of the gods.
The channel of clear intelligence will open, clairvoyance and the four immeasurables like love and compassion will arise, and in six months a body of light will be spontaneously accomplished.
How amazing! How amazing that the victorious ones of the three times have such powerful prayers of aspiration and such capacity! One such as I, the Lake-Born Padmākara, concealed many texts as treasures in mountains and valleys. I concealed many sacred substances, representations of body, speech, and mind. I hid a mixture of many excellent teachings for protecting, repelling, and killing. In the future may those treasures be taken out by a [heart] son. There will be many obstacles when Jatsön, the emanation of [Myang] Tingdzin Zangpo, fulfils his own and others’ aims.
At that time an emanation light ray of Takra Lugong will appear disguised as a [heart] son, and there is a risk that he will cause obstacles. Practice firm samādhi which blazes forth with the powers of subjugation and wrathful activity. An emanation of the evil minister Tramik will appear in the guise of a spiritual friend and through his cunning disparage others and eventually cause disputes. At such a time, entreat the Lord of Great Compassion (Avalokiteśvara). There will be an emanation of the demoness Zanglak, who will adopt a beautifully fine form and cause obstacles to your practice, vows, and samaya. Look at her with intelligence as she could be seen as a demoness or a goddess. An emanation of Tsenmar Raru will appear in the guise of a noble man pretending to be your patron and eventually take hold of your life. It is crucial that you dedicate yourself to the ablution of Ucchuṣma, king of the wrathful (Trogyal Metsek). You will come across about seven manifestations of red-faced Te’u Rang dwarves, who will provide bad, unclean food and disparage you. Develop compassion towards them and transform them through that relationship.
Furthermore, at that time since the three poisons will be expressed so strongly, gradually spread and cherish the profound treasures. Simultaneously, as a result of propagating empowerments and oral transmissions, there will be many samaya transgressors and you must absolutely look after them at all times as well as strive in your own practice. Do not drink maddening alcohol and avoid low caste women. Travel the path of secret mantra and be diligent. Whatever happiness or suffering befalls you, recall [Guru] Orgyen, and all those with whom you come into contact, however significant or insignificant, will be satisfied.
Even amongst manifestations, this heart son is the foremost emanation. For example: among all the different kinds of blood, he is that of the very heart. Among celestial bodies in the sky, he is the essential sun and moon. Among the best medicines, he is the special, all-conquering one. Among jewels, he is that which fulfills all wishes and desires. Among treasure revealers, he is the discoverer of the most supreme and rarest treasure. Fortunate ones, supplicate him. In this vidyādhara’s heart centre, light energy blazes in the branch channels to form a triangle, the auspiciousness of which is externally apparent. The ferocity of his exalted mind is akin to the games of children— one moment divine, the next demonic. [However] his conduct is faithful to the Three Baskets [of the Buddhist teachings]. As for his meditation, he practices Mahāmudrā, Dzogchen, and Madhyamaka, and his view arises as the non-referential view, free from the extremes [of nihilism and eternalism]. He immediately remembers that he has no time for distractions. Suffering unbearably, eyes wet with tears, unfriendly yet maintaining samaya—all of this is the magical display of his channels. A person possessing such karma is one in a hundred. This heart son of Padma will be surrounded by plenty of fortunate ones with the right karma. However, since there are many with bad karma and forsaken samaya, ḍākinīs who are the essence of the sky, protect him! Samaya.
The seal of the words of the Buddha, the seal of the nectar of the excellent dharma, the seal of the aspirational prayers of the saṃgha. Seal! Seal! Sea! The seal of the compassion of the gurus, the seal of the blessings of the deities, the seal of the entrustment of the ḍākinīs, the seal of the power and force of the dharma protectors.
Seal! Seal! Seal!
Concerning both the concise and extensive guidebooks of Pemokö, which is one of the sixteen hidden lands, the treasure revealer Jatsön Nyingpo brought forth [this guide] from the Guru Rinpoche Practice Cave in the valley of Kongpo.
'Ja' tshon snying po. 1979. “sBas yul pad+ma bko kyi lam yig.” In: gTer chen rig 'dzin 'ja' tshon snying po'i zab gter chos mdzod rin po che. Vol.1. Konchog Lhadrepa. Majnu ka tilla, Delhi. pp. 445–460. (W1KG3655).
Other Primary Sources
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Sangs rgyas gling pa. Unpublished. gNas mchog pad+ma bkod pa’i gnas yig lung brten (sic)
Sle lung rJe drung bZhad pa’i rdo rje. “gNas mchog pad+mo bkod du bgrod pa'i lam yig.” In: Sle lung rje drung bZhad pa’i rdo rje’i gsung ’bum. Vol. 8. pp. 389–493. Sonam, T. and Tashigang, D.L. Leh. (W22130). 1983.
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sTag sham nus ldan rdo rje. 1988. “gNas mchog dga' ba tshal gyi lo rgyus snying po mdor bsdus.” In: sPo bo'i lo rgyus. Bod ljongs mi dmangs dpe skrun khang. pp.81–84. Lhasa. (W20520).
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Bailey, Frederick, Marsham 1957. No Passport to Tibet. London: Hart-Davis.
Baker, Ian. The Heart of the World: A Journey to the Last Secret Place. New York: Penguin Press. 2004.
Childs, G. 1999. "Refuge and Revitalization: Hidden Himalayan Sanctuaries (Sbas-yul) and the Preservation of Tibet’s Imperial Lineage." Acta Orientalia, 60: pp.126–158.
______. 2012. “Trans-Himalayan Migrations as Processes, Not Events: Towards Theoretical Framework.” In Huber, T & Blackburn, S. (Eds). Origins and Migrations in the Extended Eastern Himalayas. Brill Leiden. Boston. pp.11–32.
Ehrhard, F.K. 1992. “The 'Vision' of rDzogs-chen: A Text and its Histories”. In Ihara Shōren and Yamaguchi Zuihō (Eds).Tibetan Studies: Proceedings of the 5th Seminar of the International Association for Tibetan Studies. Narita: Naritasan Shinshoji, pp.47–58.
______. 1997. “A Hidden Land’ in the Tibetan-Nepalese Borderlands.” In. Macdonald, A. (Ed.) Mandala and Landscape. pp. 287-334. New Delhi: DK Printworld. pp. 335–364.
______. 1999a. “The Role of 'Treasure Discoverers' and Their Search for Himalayan Sacred Lands”. In Huber, T. (Ed.) Sacred and Powerful Places in Tibetan Culture. A Collection of Essays. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. pp. 227–239.
______. 1999b. “Political and Ritual Aspects of the Search for Himalayan Sacred Lands” In Huber, T. Ed. Sacred and Powerful Places in Tibetan Culture: A Collection of Essays. Dharamsala: Library of Tibetan Works and Archives. pp. 240–257.
______. Forthcoming. A Great and Small Padma bkod: Guidebooks and Individual Journeys. Himalaya, Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies. 2020.
Grothmann, K. 2012a. "Population History and Identity in the Hidden Land of Pemako". In Journal of Bhutan Studies. Volume 26. Summer. pp. 21–52.
______. 2012b. “Migration Narratives, Official Classifications, and Local Identities: The Memba of the Hidden Land of Pachakshiri.” In. Huber, T & Blackburn, S. (Eds.) Origins and Migrations in the Extended Eastern Himalayas. Brill Leiden. Boston. pp.125–151.
Gyamtso, L.M. 2017. Rainbow Essence: The Life and Teachings of Jatsön Nyingpo. KTD 132 Publications.
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______. 2008. Frank Kingdon Ward’s Riddle of the Tsangpo Gorges. Cox, K. Ed. Garden Art Press.
McDougal. E, 2016. "Drakngak Lingpa’s Pilgrimage Guides and the Progressive Opening of the Hidden Land of Pemakö." In Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines, 35, pp.5–52.
Mayward L. 2016. “An Exposition of the Treasure Text ‘Self-liberation upon Hearing: A Guide to the Joyful Land of Pemakö’.” In The Tibet Journal, 41:1. p.9–64.
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There are two variations of the spelling of this hidden land: Pad+mo bkod and Pad+ma bkod. We have followed the form that Jatsön Nyingpo uses. ↩
The Embodiment of the Precious Ones (dkon mchog spyi 'dus) was a revealed treasure text discovered by Jatsön Nyingpo. ↩
Chāmara is identified as Sri Lanka. ↩
The text reads gzo rigs which we have interpreted as a spelling error for bzo rig. ↩
Arthur Mandelbaum, "Gyelwa Chokyang," Treasury of Lives, accessed October 25, 2020, http://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Gyelwa-Choyang/4903. ↩
The eight signs include the lotus (padma), the endless knot (śrīvatsa, T. dpal be’u), the pair of golden fish (suvarṇamatsya, T. gser nya), the parasol (chattra, T. gdugs), the victory banner (ketu, T. rgyal mtshan), the treasure vase (dhanakumbha, T. gter gyi bum pa), the white conch shell (śaṅkha, T. dung dkar), and the wheel (cakra, T. ’khor lo). ↩
1.Right-coiling conch shell (dung dkar gyas 'khyil), 2. Yogurt (zho) 3. Durva grass (rtsa dur ba) 4. Vermilion (li khri) 5. Bilva fruit (shing tog bil ba), 6. Mirror (me long) 7. Bezoar (gi wang) 8. White mustard seed (yungs dkar). ↩
Jakob Leschly, "Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo," Treasury of Lives, accessed October 02, 2020, http://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Nyang-Tingngedzin-Zangpo/6205. ↩
Brandon Dotson, "Takdra Lukong," Treasury of Lives, accessed November 01, 2020, http://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Takdra-Lukong/13198. ↩
At this point the treasure text is describing Jatsön Nyingpo as the heart son. ↩