Nonsectarianism Series

Schools & Systems › Nonsectarianism

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Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo with Jamgön Kongtrul and Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa

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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:


In this response to questions, Chokgyur Lingpa addresses controversy surrounding Nyima Drakpa (1647–1710) and the Mindrolling tradition by advocating a nonsectarian attitude of universal acceptance.

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).

Written in verse, this short text addresses some of the sectarian attitudes and activity attributed to the controversial Gelugpa teacher Phabongkha Dechen Nyingpo (1878–1941) and his supporters.

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.

Aspiration Prayers

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.

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.

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.

This famous four-line aspiration for the propagation of the nonsectarian lineage of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo was composed by the master himself.

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.

Guru Yoga



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.

A four-line prayer to invoke the blessings of the three great masters Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye and Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa.

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.

Verses of supplication to Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thayé, Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa, and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, which Khyentse Wangpo composed at Jamgön Kongtrul's behest.

A non-sectarian (ris med) prayer to 25 of the most important figures in Tibetan Buddhism, five for each of the five major traditions: Nyingma, Sakya, Kagyü, Kadam and Geluk.

This brief prayer to the buddhas and bodhisattvas, learned and accomplished masters of India, and figures from all Tibetan traditions, reflects the author's famously nonsectarian approach.


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