Literary Genres › Termas
Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources
A collection of spiritual treasures or terma (gter ma), which were reportedly hidden by Guru Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal, either in the earth and in the minds of disciples, and then revealed at the appropriate time by ‘treasure revealers’ or tertön (gter ston):
- The New Glorious Bestower of Immortality: A Long-Life Practice and Empowerment that Unites the Oral, Treasure and Visionary Teachings by Chöje Lingpa
This long-life practice (tshe sgrub) and empowerment (tshe dbang) of Thangtong Gyalpo (1361–1485?) is said to bring together the oral, treasure and visionary teachings. It combines Thangtong Gyalpo's original Glorious Bestower of Immortality ('chi med dpal ster) with Chöjé Lingpa's own treasure revelation and visionary account.
- The Sādhana and Empowerment for the Extremely Close Lineage of the Long-Life Practice that Unites the Oral, Treasure and Visionary Teachings by Chöje Lingpa
This pith instruction for accomplishing longevity (tshe sgrub) through Thangtong Gyalpo (1361–1485?) is said to bring together the oral, treasure and visionary teachings. According to its colophon, Chöjé Lingpa received the instruction from Thangtong Gyalpo directly in a vision. Jamgön Kongtrul included the text in the Precious Treasury of Revelations (Rinchen Terdzö).
Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa
This famous prayer to Guru Padmasambhava for the elimination of all obstacles on the spiritual path is the outer practice of The Guru's Heart Practice: Dispelling All Obstacles on the Path (bla ma'i thugs sgrub bar chad kun sel), a joint revelation of Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.
- Sampa Lhundrupma—'The Prayer to Guru Rinpoche that Spontaneously Fulfils all Wishes' from The Guru’s Heart Practice: The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel by Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa
Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa’s revelation of the Sampa Lhundrupma (bsam pa lhun grub ma), a famous prayer to Guru Padmasambhava for the spontaneous fulfilment of wishes, forms the outer section of The Guru’s Heart Practice: The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel (thugs sgrub yid bzhin nor bu). The prayer is very similar to Tulku Zangpo Drakpa’s Sampa Lhundrupma prayer, which is counted as the final chapter of the Le’u Dünma or Prayer in Seven Chapters.
This aspiration prayer is said to have been spoken by Guru Padmasambhava when revealing the Vajradhātu maṇḍala in the temple of Samye. The text was revealed by Chokgyur Lingpa and transcribed by Jamgön Kongtrul. Generally, it is known as Mönlam Chokchu Düzhima (Aspiration of the Ten Directions and Four Times), a name which derives from the prayer's first four syllables.
- The Concise Cleansing Offering from The Guru’s Heart Practice: Dispelling All Obstacles on the Path by Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa
Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa revealed this concise smoke offering practice (bsang mchod) as part of the famous cycle known as The Guru's Heart Practice: Dispelling All Obstacles on the Path (bla ma'i thugs sgrub bar chad kun sel).
This version of the famous confession, revealed as part of the Tukdrup Barché Kunsel (thugs sgrub bar chad kun sel) cycle, differs slightly from the eleventh chapter of the Immaculate Confession Tantra, with minor variations throughout and an additional two lines at the very end.
Popularly known as Dü Sum Sangye (Dus gsum sangs rgyas), this short prayer to Guru Padmasambhava was discovered as a treasure (gter ma) by Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa. As indicated in the colophon, it was—and still is—regarded as especially pertinent for the current time.
- The Wish-Fulfilling Tree: The Life Story of the Master of Uḍḍiyāna as found in Padmasambhava’s Sevenfold Cycle of Profundity by Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa
This concise biography of the eighth-century master from Uḍḍīyana, Guru Padmasambhava, who established Buddhism in Tibet in the 8th century, was revealed in 1856 by the great treasure-revealer Chokgyur Lingpa as part of the Sevenfold Cycle of Profundity (zab pa skor bdun). The text consists of ten short chapters, each relating to a different aspect of the master’s life and activities.
This prayer, to be recited when accumulating tsok offerings on a large scale, is extracted from 'The Essential Drop of Enlightened Activity: A Tsok Offering for the Single Mudrā Form of Vajrakumāra', which is itself part from the Sangtik Korsum cycle, a joint revelation of Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa and Jamgön Kongtrul.
Khyentse Rinpoche composed this simple sādhana of Vajrasattva by adapting a section of the Tukdrup Sheldam Nyingjang (thugs sgrub zhal gdams snying byang), the root text of the Barche Kunsel revelation of Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa.
- Concise Offering of the Body from the Root Text of the Heart Accomplishment of the Guru Tukdrup, The Essential Manual of Oral Instructions (Shaldam Nyingjang) by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
A simple practice of Chöd ('severance') extracted from the Essential Manual of Oral Instructions (zhal gdams snying byang), which is part of the Chokling Tersar, and supplemented by verses of introduction and conclusion composed by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
This very short prayer to the three kāyas, the dharmakāya Amitābha, sambhogakāya Avalokiteśvara and nirmāṇakāya Guru Padmasambhava, for 'clearing obstacles from the path' (bar chad lam sel) was composed by the treasure-revealer Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje.
- Heart of Vajrasattva—The Heart of Confession, the King of Purification Practices, from 'The Immaculate Secret Vajrasattva' by Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje
- The Lightning Bolt of Compassion: A Short Prayer that Spontaneously Fulfils All Wishes (Sampa Lhundrupma) by Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje
The famous tertön (gter ston) Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje wrote this brief prayer to Guru Padmasambhava Tötreng Tsal for the spontaneous fulfilment of wishes (bsam pa lhun grub) at the request of his consort and son.
- The Truthful Words of a Sage: An Aspiration Prayer from the Exceedingly Secret Heart Essence of the Ḍākinī by Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje
This aspiration prayer forms the conclusion of The Exceedingly Secret Heart Essence (yang gsang mkha' 'gro'i thugs thig) revelation and thus is said to be the words of Pema Tötrengtsel (Mighty Lotus Skull-Garland, i.e., Padmasambhava) himself.
Dodrupchen Jigme Trinle Özer
Dorje Dechen Lingpa
This seven-chapter biography is a late example of the Kathang (bka' thang) genre, a versified chronicle of Padmasambhava's life as recounted to Emperor Trisong Detsen and his subjects. The text is unusually detailed in its description of Padmasambhava's personal practice, listing dozens of places where he meditated, how long he stayed, which practices he performed, which results he gained, and so on. It concludes with a chapter that includes prophecies and practical advice for the people of Tibet.
- A Concise Recitation of the Preliminary Practice according to the New Treasure of Dudjom by Dudjom Rinpoche
The root text of the Dudjom Tersar preliminary practices, including the outer preliminaries, i.e., the four contemplations that turn the mind from saṃsāra, and the inner preliminaries of taking refuge, generating bodhicitta, offering the maṇḍala, meditation on Vajrasattva, guru yoga and transference (phowa).
- Accomplishing the Lama through the Seven-Line Prayer: A Special Teaching from the Lama Sangdü by Guru Chökyi Wangchuk
The original revelation of the Seven-Line Prayer (tshig bdun gsol 'debs), which is the most famous and widely chanted of all invocations of Guru Padmasambhava, and which, according to later commentators, can be understood and practised on multiple levels.
- Emptying the Hells from their Very Depths: The Sovereign Practice for the Confession of all Impairments and Breakages of Vows and all Negative Actions and Obscurations from the revelation of Guru Chökyi Wangchuk
This practice of confession and fulfilment, popularly known as Narak Kong Shak, was arranged by combining elements of Guru Chökyi Wangchuk’s revelation called Kagye Sangwa Yongdzok together with the Kagye Drakpo Rangjung Rangshar of the Northern Treasures.
- Meeting the Buddha Face to Face: A Pith Instruction on Realizing the Fortress, Ravine, and View of the Practice of Vajrakīlaya by Guru Chökyi Wangchuk
This pith instruction on how to accomplish Vajrakīla (or Vajrakīlaya) was given by Guru Padmasambhava to his closest disciple Khandro Yeshé Tsogyal. Following the Atiyoga approach, the text comments on the oft-quoted verses of the Vajrakīla Root Tantra Fragment (Tōh. 439). This and a short protector offering, also preserved in the Treasury of Revelations (Rinchen Terdzö), are the only two surviving texts from Guru Chöwang’s Vajrakīla revelation.
- The Dhāraṇīs That Encapsulate the Essence of the Kangyur, the Collected Words of the Buddha revealed by Guru Chökyi Wangchuk
A collection of brief ḍhāraṇīs that are said to encapsulate the essence of the entire Kangyur (bka' 'gyur), or Collected Words of the Buddha, and serve as a powerful means of purification when recited.
A lineage prayer for Tsogyal's Whispered Transmission of Kīla (mtsho rgyal snyan brgyud phur pa), which was revealed by Gyarong Khandro, together with Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö and Khandro Tsering Chödrön, from the Zadü (gza' bdud) cave at Khyungdrak Dorjei Yangdzong in the water snake year (1953), and then transmitted by Jamyang Khyentse to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in the wood sheep year (1955).
Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö
This brief text, which includes ter marks, is of uncertain origin, but the editors of the latest edition of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö's writings included it on the basis that it is possibly a revelation of his and note that he encouraged his students to recite it during a period of frequent earthquakes.
Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
- A Brief Prayer to the Precious Master Padmākara for Swiftly Fulfilling Wishes and Dispelling Obstacles by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
- Activities for Uncovering Primordial Wisdom from the Chimé Pakmé Nyingtik, ‘The Heart Essence of the Sublime Lady of Immortality’ by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
The longer sādhana of The Heart Essence of the Sublime Lady of Immortality, or Chimé Pakmé Nyingtik ('chi med 'phags ma'i snying thig), the popular long-life practice of Tāra in union with the Lord of the Dance, which Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo discovered as a mind treasure in 1855.
These verses to be recited before and after prayers to Guru Padmasambhava, especially the famous Prayer in Seven Chapters (le'u bdun ma), include the practices of taking refuge and arousing bodhicitta, a seven-branch offering, the generation and dissolution of a visualisation, and the dedication of merit.
- The Single-Form Daily Practice from Chimé Pakmé Nyingtik (The Heart Essence of the Sublime Lady of Immortality) by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo
A short maṇḍala offering from the revelations of Jatsön Nyingpo. These lines are also recommended in Chatral Rinpoche's edition of Khenpo Ngawang Palzang's notes (zin bris) to the Longchen Nyingtik preliminaries.
This revealed treasure text (gter ma), included in the Könchok Chidü (dkon mchog spyi 'dus), contains prophecies about future degenerate times and is purportedly the first guidebook to the hidden land of Pemakö (here spelt Pemokö).
Jigdral Tutop Lingpa
- A Powerful Pith Instruction to Abstain from Tobacco, the Tenacious Demon Plaguing People of Degenerate Times revealed by Jigdral Tutop Lingpa
This text from the terma cycle known as The Ocean of the Profound Essence (zab tig rgya mtsho) relates the mythical origins of tobacco and warns readers against its use, noting how it incites destructive emotions and ultimately leads to rebirth in hell.
Four sets of concealed instructions (gab byang) related to the practice of Rigdzin Düpa (Vidyādhara Assembly), on 1) the wisdom deity, 2) the mantra, 3) the palanquin (do li) samādhi, and 4) the results of the practice.
- A Glorious Garland of Great Bliss, the Root Sādhana of the Queen of Great Bliss, Yumka Tsogyal, from the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse revealed by Jigme Lingpa
- A Ritual of Blessing and Empowerment for the Female Practice, from the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse by Jigme Lingpa
This source text of the Yumka Dechen Gyalmo empowerment, part of the original treasure revelation of Longchen Nyingtik, served as the basis for later, more elaborate manuals composed by Jamgön Kongtrul and the Third Dodrupchen, Jigme Tenpe Nyima.
Palchen Düpa (dpal chen 'dus pa), the 'Awesome Ones' Assembly', is the wrathful yidam practice of the Longchen Nyingtik cycle. It features the Kagyé (bka' brgyad), or eight herukas, with Chemchok Vajra Tötrengtsal as the central deity.
This famous offering prayer composed by Jigme Lingpa includes lines related to every aspect of the gaṇacakra feast yet is short enough to be recited multiple times, such as when accumulating large numbers of feast offerings. In fact, some claim that the tradition of accumulating multiple feast offerings originated with this very prayer.
- Secret Path to the Mountain of Glory—A Prayer of Aspiration for the Copper-Coloured Mountain of Glory by Jigme Lingpa
This prayer of aspiration to be reborn in Guru Padmasambhava's heaven of Zangdok Palri (zangs mdog dpal ri), the Copper-coloured Mountain of Glory, includes detailed descriptions of its wonderful features and extraordinary qualities. The text is a terma (gter ma) revelation and part of the Longchen Nyingtik cycle.
One of the fundamental works in the core Longchen Nyingtik collection, the root tantra provides a terse overview of the inner tantras and a brief account of the treasure's revelation. As Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche remarked, it is usually taught only to a few select disciples.
- The Continuous Shower of Blessings: A Prayer to the Lineage of the Great Perfection’s Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse (Dzogpachenpo Longchen Nyingtik) revealed by Jigme Lingpa
- The Prayer of the Ground, Path & Fruition – From the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse by Jigme Lingpa
- The Root Empowerment of the Vase Conferring Majesty from the Heart-Essence of the Vast Expanse by Jigme Lingpa
The sādhana of Dukngal Rangdrol (sdug bsngal rang grol), 'Natural Liberation of Suffering', is the Avalokiteśvara practice from the Longchen Nyingtik that is classed either as a peaceful yidam or as the secret-level guru practice from the peaceful, male-vidyādhara section of the cycle.
A practice of confession and offering as a means to purify vows and restore commitments related to every level of the path, from the śrāvaka vehicle through to Atiyoga or the Great Perfection. The text was first revealed by Jigme Lingpa in 1760 while he was staying at Samye Chimphu.
- The Vase of Immortal Life: The Long-Life Practice of the Vidyādharas, from the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse by Jigme Lingpa
This longevity practice related to Rigdzin Düpa (The Vidyādhara Assembly) includes a means of attaining immortality through Amitāyus and a summoning of longevity (tshe 'gugs) that invokes the eight vidyādharas.
- The Vidyādhara Assembly (Rigdzin Düpa), the Inner Practice from the Heart Essence of the Vast Expanse by Jigme Lingpa
The inner guru practice Vidyādhara Assembly (Rigdzin Düpa) features Guru Padmasambhava and Mandāravā at the centre of the maṇḍala, surrounded by the eight vidyādharas, twenty-five disciples and other deities.
This revelation, part of the Longchen Nyingtik, describes the pure awareness, or rigpa, that is the "natural state" (gnas lugs) of the mind, and how all the qualities of the path and fruition are complete within it. The text is considered a definitive statement on the topic, eliminating all doubts and need for further clarification.
One of the most famous sections of Liberation Upon Hearing in the Bardo (bar do thos grol)—the so-called Tibetan Book of the Dead—this text offers instructions on each of the six intermediate states, or bardos: 1) the bardo of this life, 2) the bardo of dreams, 3) the bardo of samādhi meditation, 4) the bardo of dying, 5) the bardo of dharmatā, and 5) the bardo of becoming.
Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok
- Accomplishing All Activity: A Daily Practice of the Great and Glorious Dorje Drolö by Khenchen Jigme Phuntsok
Lhatsün Namkha Jigme
- Mountain Smoke Offering from The Life-Force Practice of the Vidyādharas revealed by Lhatsün Namkha Jigme
The Mountain Smoke Offering (ri bo bsangs mchod) from Lhatsün Namkha Jigme's Life-Force Practice of the Vidyādharas (rig 'dzin srog sgrub) revelation is one of the most famous and widely practised smoke-incense (bsangs) offering rituals in Tibetan Buddhism, and appears in a number of editions. This is the original version, without any introductory practices or other additions.
This four-line prayer to accompany the maṇḍala offering is extracted from the common preliminary practices of the Longsal Dorje Nyingpo tradition. It also appears in Chatral Rinpoche's edition of Khenpo Ngawang Palzang's famous guide to the Longchen Nyingtik preliminaries.
Ngakchang Shakya Zangpo
In this famous history of the sacred stūpa of Boudha, Guru Padmasambhava recounts the stūpa's origins. In response to a request from King Trisong Deutsen, he tells how a humble poultry-woman first extracted a promise from the king and then built the stūpa together with her four sons, who were all later reborn as prominent figures in the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet. Padmasambhava also describes the benefits to be gained from circumambulating the stūpa and making offerings before it, and concludes with a series of prophecies concerning the stūpa's restoration.
Nyala Pema Dündul
- The Sovereign of Confessions for all Impairments and Breakages, Extracted from the Rampant Elephant Tantra revealed by Nyala Pema Düdul
Although part of the Space-Pervading Self-Liberation (mkha' khyab rang grol) revelation, this confession is virtually identical to the popular Yeshe Kuchokma liturgy that is taken from the Immaculate Confession Tantra (Dri med bshags rgyud).
Nyang Ral Nyima Özer
- A Prayer Recalling the Life and Liberation of the Precious Master Padmasambhava by Nyangral Nyima Özer
This prayer in 26 verses recounts the major events of the life of Guru Padmasambhava, from his miraculous birth upon a lotus to his final departure from Tibet for the land of the rakṣasas. Upon recollecting each stage or episode in the Guru's life, the reader requests empowerment and blessings.
One of the better known instructions from the collection known as Responses to Questions, Advice from the Guru's Direct Instructions (bla ma dmar khrid kyi zhal gdams zhus lan skor), which is included in the Precious Treasury of Revelations (rin chen gter mdzod). The text contains simple advice from Guru Padmasambhava for his elderly disciple, Ngok Sherab Gyalpo.
This revelation of Orgyen Lingpa, discovered at Samye Chimphu, provides a brief account of Guru Padmasambhava's life and deeds. Each of its sixteen chapters describes eight features, beginning with Padmasambhava's eight manifestations, his eight life-giving fathers, eight mothers, and so on. The text concludes with a series of prophecies.
This famous prayer of aspiration, which was a terma revelation of Pema Lingpa (1450–1521), is said to record the words of Yeshe Tsogyal to Guru Padmasambhava as he was about to leave Tibet for the land of the rakṣasa demons.
This brief prayer of aspiration is extracted from The Wish-Fulfilling Jewel: A Sādhana of Yeshe Tsogyal as Noble Tāra (Ye shes mtsho rgyal 'phags ma sgrol mar sgrub pa'i thabs yid bzhin nor bu), a treasure (terma) revealed by Ratna Lingpa.
- The Powerful Prayer of Aspiration from the Tantra of the Great Perfection that Reveals the All-Penetrating Wisdom Mind of Samantabhadra by Rigdzin Gödem
This famous prayer of aspiration of Buddha Samantabhadra (kun bzang smon lam), which is taken from the All-Penetrating Wisdom Mind (dgongs pa zang thal) revelation, is among the most popular texts of the Dzogchen tradition. Its recitation is especially recommended during solar and lunar eclipses, at the solstices and new year, as well as during earthquakes and other environmental anomalies.
Rigdzin Nyima Drakpa
This light offering prayer is commonly recited in conjunction with Narak Kongshak within the Nyingma tradition. It is extracted from Casket of Siddhis: A Framework for Attainment (sgrub pa'i khog dbub dngos grub sgrom bu), which is part of Tertön Nyima Drakpa's revelation known as Dispelling the Darkness of Ignorance (Marig Munsel), a collection of Avalokiteśvara practices.
- A Prayer Recounting the Lives and Liberation of the Exalted Ḍākinī Mandāravā revealed by Samten Lingpa
- A Concise Meditation and Mantra Recitation of Sarasvatī from the Heart Essence of the Ḍākinī of Suchness (Chönyi Khandrö Tuktik) revealed by Sera Khandro
- The Profound Bestowal of Blessings: A Sādhana of Dorje Drolö from the Reality Ḍākinīs' Secret Treasury (Chönyi Khandrö Sangdzö) revealed by Sera Khandro
This Dorje Drolö sādhana from Sera Khandro's Dharmatā Ḍākinis' Secret Treasury (chos nyid mkha' 'gro gsang mdzod) cycle includes visualization and mantra recitiation, as well as an additional activity rite.
This short practice of Vajrapāṇi in the form of Ucchuṣma is part of the treasure cycle The Essence of Liberation: Self-Liberation of the Wisdom Mind (grol thig dgongs pa rang grol). The text provides a short history of the practice, instructions on how it should be performed, a prophecy about the treasure-revealer, and instructions on the vase ritual.
Tertön Mingyur Dorje
Part of the Namchö (gnam chos) revelation, this extremely popular prayer of aspiration for rebirth in Sukhāvatī derives from a vision in which Buddha Amitābha appeared to Tulku Mingyur Dorje, when the latter was just twelve years old, in 1657.
Sometimes classified as a Sukhāvatī aspiration (bde smon), this well-known prayer for the dedication of virtue (dge ba bsngo ba) is attributed to Buddha Amitābha, who spoke to Tulku Mingyur Dorje in a vision in 1657.
This inventory (thems yig) provides key details of the Razor of the Innermost Essence (yang snying spu gri), including a list of all texts in the cycle, and important information for the tertön concerning its revelation.
For this prayer from the Vajrakīla cycle known as Yang Zab Nyingpo (Deepest Heart-Essence), the practitioner assumes the form of the deity Vajrakīla and prays to Guru Padmākara and consort, who are visualized above the head.
In this guru yoga, a mind terma of Tertön Sogyal, the lama is visualized in the form of Dorje Tötreng Tsal. The text was revealed in association with the Nechung Oracle and it remains a daily practice of Nechung Monastery to this day.
- The Method to Pacify All Epidemics, Illnesses and Pandemics from the Sixty Solitary Forms of Yamāntaka by Tertön Sogyal
The 54th of 60 texts in Tertön Sogyal's revelation connected with the 'solitary hero' (ekavīra) form of Yamāntaka, this is a special method for pacifying and healing contagious disease. It is among the rituals being performed by the monks of Larung Gar as a means to eliminate the coronavirus pandemic of 2020–21.
Tulku Zangpo Drakpa
- Le'u Dünma—Chapter 7. Sampa Lhundrupma—'The Prayer to Guru Rinpoche that Spontaneously Fulfills all Wishes' by Tulku Zangpo Drakpa
This terma (gter ma), which Tulku Zangpo Drakpa revealed and passed on to Rigdzin Gödem (1337–1408), presents a sūtra-like scenario in which Buddha Śākyamuni reveals a dhāraṇī for subduing enemies and demonic forces.