Dudjom Tröma Nakmo History

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Pema Rigtsal Rinpoche

Dudjom Tröma Nakmo

The Dudjom Tröma Nakmo Teachings of Profound Severance (Chöd)

by Tulku Pema Rigtsal Rinpoche[1]

These Tröma teachings of Severance (Chöd) are the essence and embodiment of the entire corpus of all the buddhas’ teachings. They are instructions that actualize the wisdom intent of the Great Mother, the state of prajñāpāramitā, self-discerning wisdom free of the duality of subject and object. They embody the practice of prajñā, the discerning insight that realizes the profound natural state, in accordance with the state of prajñāpāramitā, and the practice of the awakened heart of loving kindness and compassion, in combination with the vast conduct of giving and so on. These teachings are a tantric approach to familiarizing oneself with the state of prajñāpāramitā. They are a swift path of the Vajra Vehicle of Secret Mantra that utilizes deity yoga and other skillful tantric methods, a path that actualizes the awakened state that transcends both existence and peace. The Dudjom Tröma Nakmo teachings of profound Severance contain extraordinary pith instructions for this exceptional approach, this sacred Dharma of severing demons.

To speak a little about the background and origin of the Dudjom Tröma teachings, the root scriptures of the profound Severance teachings are the Prajñāpāramitā sūtras, which are indeed the essence of all of the teachings of the Buddha. The Prajñāpāramitā teachings contain the direct exposition of the stages of emptiness and the indirect exposition of the stages of realization.

The direct exposition, the stages of emptiness, was first taught by Buddha himself, the victorious Lord of Sages, and then passed on by Noble Mañjuśrī, the Lion of Speech, to Glorious Āryadeva, who gave them to Padampa Sangye.

The indirect exposition, the stages of realization, was first taught by the perfect Buddha himself and then passed on by the Noble Protector Maitreya to Noble Asaṅga, to Ācārya Vasubandhu, to Āryadeva, and from him to Padampa Sangye.

In this way, Padampa Sangye came to hold the transmissions for both the direct and indirect expositions of the Prajñāpāramitā. He then passed this double transmission to Kyotön Sönam Lama, who passed them to Machik Labdrön. This forms the Father Lineage of Skillful Means.

The instructions on how to apply the actual meaning of the prajñāpāramitā in practice, in connection with Secret Mantra, were transmitted from the Dharmakāya Mother Jetsün Drölma to Ḍākinī Sukhāsiddhī to Machik Labdrön. This is the Mother Lineage of Discerning Insight.

These two instructions, or approaches, were thus merged into one in Machik Labdrön, who then passed them on to her son. This is called the Nondual Lineage of Insight and Means.

Furthermore, there is also a transmission that was passed from Buddha Vajradhara to Jetsün Drölma to Machik. This is called the Secret Mantra Lineage.

The Severance teachings that have issued forth from these lineages have been practiced by all the sublime masters and practitioners of the past, continuing right up to the present day, regardless of their school or affiliation. Thus, these teachings have come to be known as the General Teachings of Severance.

The great treasure-revealer Dudjom Lingpa met Machik Labdrön in person, in her illusory wisdom-body form. She took him in and granted him the entire Severance instructions. Moreover, Pachik Dampa (Padampa Sangye) also revealed himself to Dudjom Lingpa and gave him complete teachings on the crucial points of the view of emptiness—for the essence of Severance practice is the view. Since Dudjom Lingpa received direct transmission of these lineages from both Machik Labdrön and Padampa Sangye, Dudjom Lingpa’s profound Severance teachings embody every one of these Severance lineages. This being so, Dudjom Lingpa wrote the following supplication:

Namo! Blessed Buddha, guardian of all beings,
Prajñāpāramitā, mother of all victors,
Padampa Sangye, Töpa Bhadra,
Mother Machik and sons, and all your disciples,
I supplicate you, with fierce, all-consuming longing! ....

And in his Cascade of the Four Empowerments:

Father Lineage of Skillful Means, I supplicate you!
Mother Lineage of Discerning Insight, I supplicate you!
Nondual Lineage of Unity, I supplicate you!
Lineage of Experience and Realization, I supplicate you!
Lineage of Profound Severance, I supplicate you!
Lineage of Vidyādhara Siddhas, I supplicate you! ....

There is an infinite variety of Tröma teachings that contain the complete Severance instructions, in both the Old and New Schools, among the Kama, the Terma, and the Pure Vision teachings, and so on. There are so many that it would be impossible to mention them all. Nevertheless, the specific Severance teachings of Dudjom Lingpa are distinguished from all these infinite others, for as our supreme guide Dudjom Lingpa, great treasure-revealer and king of Dharma, said:

This amazing, extraordinary teaching from the short lineage of the great mind treasure The Space Treasury of the Nature of Reality (Chönyi Namkhé Longdzö) is an instruction destined for today’s dark times. It is so auspiciously suited, so auspiciously aligned that it will bring countless beings in this degenerate age to ripening and liberation. It is a most profound pith instruction, granted by the lord of siddhas, Saraha himself....

The heir to these wondrous Tröma Severance teachings, the student to whom Dudjom Lingpa entrusted them, was Pema Dechen Gyalpo (Degyal Rinpoche I), who was one of the thirteen holy disciples to attain rainbow body. Not only was he crowned as the holder of these teachings by Dudjom Lingpa, but, as foretold in dreams and prophecies, he brought about real benefit for many beings, throughout all three provinces of Ngari, as well as in the border areas of India and Nepal.

As for the lineage of these profound treasure teachings of Tröma, they were transmitted by Glorious Saraha to Traktung Dudjom Lingpa, to mahāsiddha Pema Dewé Gyalpo, to Pema Lungtok Gyatso (Serta Lama), and then to Jikmé Pema Chöying Rangdrol (Degyal Rinpoche II) and Venerable Tsewang Rinpoche. It was from the latter two that I had the great fortune to receive all the empowerments, transmissions, and instructions in their perfect entirety.

Furthermore, the extraordinary Great Perfection was transmitted through Pema Dechen Gyalpo as follows. It was first transmitted from Dharmakāya Samantabhadra to the Sixth Buddha Vajradhara, and then to Vajradharma (Vajrapāṇi)—this comprises the Wisdom Transmission of Victorious Ones. It was then transmitted to Garab Dorje, Mañjuśrīmitra, Śrī Siṃha, Jñānasūtra, Buddha Vimala, Padmasambhava, Vairotsana, Tri Songdeutsen, and Yeshe Tsogyal—this comprises the Symbolic Transmission of Vidyādharas. From there, it was transmitted to the omniscient Drimé Özer (Longchenpa), Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa, Gyalsé Zhenpen Tayé, Damtsik Dorjé, Mañjubenza, Heruka Pal (Traktung Dudjom Lingpa), and then to Pema Dechen Gyalpo—this comprises the Aural Transmission of Humans. In this way, the lineage is subsumed within the three transmissions.

Pema Dechen Gyalpo then transmitted the teachings to Pema Lungtok Gyatso (Serta Lama), who transmitted them to Degyal Rinpoche II, Pema Chöying Rangdrol, and to Venerable Tsewang Rinpoche, and I received the lineage from the two of them.

The teachings specific to the Namkha Khyungdzong tradition include the Sater Ngöndro (Khandro Nyingtik Preliminary Practices), The Extensive Severance Instructions (Chötri Gyepa), The Instructions on Awakened Heart (Jangchup Semtri), The Self-Liberation of Dualistic Confusion, The Self-Arising Natural State (Neluk Rangjung), Buddhahood Without Meditation: A Visionary Account Known As Refining One’s Perception (Nangjang), The Sharp Vajra of Awareness (Sherik Dorjé Nönpo), the One-Hundred Day Practice of Tögal, the Six-Month Practice of Tögal, and more. These teachings contain powerful and undiluted blessings. They are untainted by samaya corruption, and are still warm with the breath of the ḍākinīs.

All the masters of this precious lineage, excepting myself, possess all the qualities spoken of in the great treasure-revealer Ratna Lingpa’s Essential Advice (Zheldam):

All my disciples, listen up! Attach yourself to a lineage that has blessings and to a person who has realization! First of all, acknowledge the excellence of the Secret Mantra approach, then train comprehensively in the scriptures and their commentaries, and then complete the recitation practices, according to number and signs! Finally, plant the stake of the three samādhis, and so attain the warmth of realization!

All the Namkha Khyungdzong lineage masters are just like this. Every single one of them perfectly completed the recitation practices, and there is not a single one who didn’t have a direct vision of Tröma and receive at least a minor prophecy, for they were all realized yogis of a lineage of the ultimate meaning that is infused with potent blessings.

Extracted from A Garland of White Lotuses: An Account of the Teaching and Teaching Holders of the Pal Drakmar Namkha Khyungdzong Tradition.

| Translated by Laura Swan, edited by Libby Hogg, 2021. First published on Lotsawa House, 2024.

Version: 1.0-20240304

  1. Based on Pema Lungtok Gyatso’s Severance Instructions and other texts.  ↩

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