Schools & Systems › Nonsectarianism
Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources
Texts on the theme of nonsectarianism, impartiality or the absence of sectarian bias, a central ideal of the so-called nonsectarian or rimé (ris med) movement that blossomed in nineteenth-century Kham:
- Advice on Nonsectarianism (from Radiant Sunlight of the Victorious Ones' Teachings: A Brief, First-Hand Account of the Liberating Life-Story of the Great Emanated Treasure Revealer) by Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa
In an address to disciples, Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa sets out a vision of nonsectarianism, in which he emphasizes the commonality of traditions and decries the divisiveness that periodically plagues Tibet and constitutes an act of forsaking the Dharma.
The author makes a distinction between “instructions that apply more generally” and “teachings that are intended for specific individuals” in order to argue for a gradualist approach that culminates in Mahāmudrā or Dzogchen for all but those of the very sharpest faculties (who are able to proceed to the highest teachings directly).
- Opening the Door of Dharma: A Brief Discourse on the Essence of All Vehicles by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
Among the best-known compositions of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, this short text in verse provides an introduction to the history and practice of Tibetan Buddhism and concludes with an appeal for nonsectarianism. It was written at the request of the Indian diplomat and author Apa Pant (1912–1992).
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.
- The Sage's Harmonious Song of Truth: A Prayer for the Flourishing of the Non-Sectarian Teachings of the Buddha by Fourteenth Dalai Lama
At the request of Trulshik Rinpoche (1924–2011) and others, His Holiness composed this prayer for the flourishing of the Buddhist teachings in 1999. It is a non-sectarian (ris med) aspiration extending to all the major and minor traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
- All-Pervading Auspiciousness: An Aspiration for the Spread of the Teachings of the Eight Great Chariots of the Practice Lineage by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
An aspiration for the spread of the teachings of the so-called Eight Great Chariots of the Practice Lineage (sgrub brgyud shing rta chen po brgyad): Nyingma, Kadam, Sakya, Marpa Kagyü, Shangpa Kagyü, Kālacakra, Pacification and Severance, and Approach and Accomplishment of the Three Vajras.
A short prayer for the spread of the tradition of Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa, Jamgön Kongtrul and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and for the flourishing of the teachings at Tenchok Gyurme Ling (rten mchog 'gyur med gling), the seat of Chokgyur Lingpa, better known as Neten Monastery.
- Clouds to Delight Amitābha, Melody of the Realm of Great Bliss: Aspiration and Auspicious Verses for the Spread of the Teachings of the Lake-Born Vajra of Oḍḍiyāna, Second Teacher of this World by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
Jamyang Khyentse says that he saw a particularly crucial need for this prayer for the spread of Padmasambhava's tradition, which also incorporates aspirations for the flourishing of the Kadam, Sakya, Kagyü and Gelug schools and the lineages of Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye, and Ju Mipham Namgyal Gyatso.
This prayer, which Jamyang Khyentse composed while in Darjeeling, most likely in 1958, invokes various deities and masters associated with all Tibetan lineages in a spirit of nonsectarianism before seeking their assistance in fulfiling a series of aspirations.
- Aspiration for the Spread of the Teachings of the Eight Chariots of the Practice Lineage by Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok
A prayer for the flourishing and spread of the teachings of all the major and minor traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, including the so-called Eight Great Chariots of the Practice Lineage (sgrub brgyud shing rta chen po brgyad), i.e., the Nyingma, Kadam, Sakya, Marpa Kagyü, Shangpa Kagyü, Kālacakra, Pacification and Severance, and Approach and Accomplishment of the Three Vajras.
- Rain of Wisdom, Love and Spiritual Power: A Guru Yoga of the Three Mañjughoṣas of the Land of Snow by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
A guru yoga focusing on the so-called Three Mañjuśrīs of Tibet, i.e., Longchen Rabjam (1308–1364), Sakya Paṇḍita (1182–1251) and Tsongkhapa Lobzang Drakpa (1357–1419). Here, Jamyang Khyentse further identifies Longchen Rabjam with the bodhisattva Vajrapāṇi and Tsongkhapa with the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara.
A simple guide to the seven types of authoritative transmission (bka' bab bdun) received by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892): oral teachings, earth treasures; rediscovered treasures; mind treasures; recollected treasures; pure visions and aural lineages.
- Calling the Guru From Afar: A Prayer to Pierce the Heart with Devotion by Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye
This popular song of devotion composed by the celebrated Rimé (ecumenical) master Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Tayé has two parts: the first an invocation of the great holders of various lineages, and the second a declaration of one's own faults and a request for the guru's aid in overcoming them and attaining realization.
- The Treasury of Blessings: A Prayer to Recall the Sublime Masters who Showed Great Kindness to the Land of Snows by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
A non-sectarian prayer invoking many of the greatest luminaries in Tibetan Buddhist history, from King Trisong Detsen and the twenty-five disciples of Guru Padmasambhava down to Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgön Kongtrul.
- The Flower of Faith: A Prayer to the Twenty-Five Founders of Buddha's Teachings in Tibet by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
- Upon Hearing the Fluted Speech of Kunzang Dechen Tsomo, Queen Mother of Sikkim by Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
Inspired by the speech of Kunzang Dechen Tsomo (1906–1987), Queen Mother of Sikkim, these verses acknowledge the kindness of past dharma patrons and masters and appeal for nonsectarianism and the flourishing of the teachings.
In this song promoting a nonsectarian approach to the teachings, Shabkar compares the major traditions of Tibetan Buddhism to various mountain paths, all of which lead to the summit that is Buddhahood. Although approaches might vary in their speed, difficulty and so on, all are valid, just as any path leading to a mountaintop is valid.