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Jigdral Yeshe Dorje (2nd Dudjom Rinpoche)
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Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje ('jigs bral ye shes rdo rje)
Dudjom Rinpoche (Tibetan: བདུད་འཇོམས་, Wylie: Bdud-'joms) is the title of a prominent line of tulkus of the Nyingmapa order of Tibetan Buddhism. Dudjom Rinpoche was born in 1904 on the tenth day of the sixth month in the year of the wood dragon in Southern Tibet in a region called the "hidden land" (Tibetan: beyul) of Pema Ko. He died on January 17, 1987 at his residence in Dordogne, France. He was the head of the Nyingma school in exile.
Dudjom Rinpoche was also known as Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje, Jigdrel meaning fearless; a title given to him by the 15th Karmapa, Gyalwa Khakyab Dorje. He was named Jnana as a child. His father was Kathok Tulku Norbu Tenzing, who was a famous tulku in the Pema Ko region who had been trained in the Kathok monastery. His mother was Namgyal Drolma descended from Ratna Lingpa. Dudjom Rinpoche descended from Nyatri Zangpo and from Puwoo Kanam Dhepa, the king of Powo.
Followers believe that it was written in tantras and old prophesies that during the eon of the Buddha Pranidhanaraja, Dudjom Rinpoche was the yogin Nuden Dorje Chang, who vowed to appear as the 1000th and the last Buddha of this Light aeon as Sugata Mopa (Od) Thaye. According to the biography of Dudjom Rinpoche on the Wogmin Thubten Shedrup Ling web site, a Kagyu monastery, in his previous lives amongst many notable historic figures he was Sariputra, one of the foremost disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni in India; Saraha, the first and greatest of the 84 Mahasiddhas of India; and Humkara, who was also a Mahasiddha.
The Nyingmapa incorporate many diverse lineages and practices often varied in each area — though they all trace their lineage sources to Padmasambhava — and as a result they have not historically appointed a head of their lineage. The new position of lineage head of Nyingma was requested by the Tibetan Government in Exile for a representational purpose in that body and the Nyingma leaders asked Dudjom Rinpoche to hold that role on behalf of the Nyingma school.
Dudjom Rinpoche is known for preserving many of the historic terma teachings and practice lineages that were at risk of being destroyed. He is described by followers as an exceptional scholar in various fields such as Sutra, Tantra, literature, poetry and history. He wrote an account of the teachings of the Nyingmapa lineage with the intent of creating an authoritative account of the lineage, encompassing 25 volumes., as well as other teachings, poetry and terma teachings. He presented a new framing of the philosophical schools used within Buddhist debates. He also helped transfer many texts out of Tibet to preserving them from destruction after the invasion of Tibet and during the Cultural Revolution. He organized the building of monasteries, teaching and retreat centers in India, Nepal, Bhutan and other countries.
The system of teachings of the Nyingma is categorized as Dzogchen, or "Great Perfection", (also known as Ati yoga). His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, like some of the previous Dalai Lamas is also a holder of the Dzogchen teachings. Both of the 14th Dalai Lama's teachers in the Dzogchen tradition — Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Trulshik Rinpoche — were disciples of the most recent Dudjom Rinpoche.
After his death Dudjom Rinpoche's physical body was moved a year later from France and placed in a stupa in one of his main monasteries near Boudhanath, Nepal in 1988. Pilgrims may view his body through a glass window in the stupa. In a letter Dudjom Rinpoche appointed the Dzogchen master Chatral Rinpoche as his Vajra Regent.
Dudjom Rinpoche's family
H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje was a householder, a yogi, a writer and above all a Great Master and Guru, rather than a monk like most lamas, with a family and married twice. His first wife was Sangyum Kusho Tseten Yudron. Their eldest daughter, Dechen Yudron is now in Lhasa, taking care of Dudjom Rinpoche's seat, Lama Ling, in Kongpo. Their eldest son Kyabje Dungsay Thinley Norbu Rinpoche is himself considered a great master and esteemed Nyingma scholar like his father. Their second son, Dola Tulku Jigmed Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche of the mainly Sakya lineage was the father of Dudjom Yangsi Rinpoche. Their daughter, Pema Yudron, lives near Dola Rinpoche in Qinghai. Their third son, Pende Norbu, who is also a tulku, is now living in Nepal. Their fourth son, Dorje Palzang, went to school in Beijing in the late fifties but was killed during the Cultural Revolution. Another daughter, Dekyong Yeshe Wangmo, was recognized as an incarnate dakini and was believed to be an emanation of Yeshe Tsogyal but died when she was a young woman. It was said that since birth she had no shadow, which meant she had fully attained the Rainbow Body while in the flesh, and that she displayed many miraculous signs, and all who saw her felt great devotion. Dudjom Rinpoche wrote the now famous "Aspiration Prayer to Journey to the Realm of the Copper Colored Mountain" after her death. It is said the inspiration for this prayer was her departing gift for sentient beings.
Dudjom Rinpoche's second wife is Sangyum Kusho Rikzin Wangme, and they had three children, including one son and two daughters. Their eldest daughter is Chimey Wangmo, and their younger daughter is Tsering Penzom. Their son is Shenphen Dawa Norbu Rinpoche who is spreading his father's teachings in both Europe and the United States.
Dudjom Rinpoche's two grandsons via his son Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche are also renowned lamas. Dungse (Rinpoche's Sangyum, Jamyang Chhodon comes from an impressive blood lineage of Kuenkhen Pema Karpo from Drukpa Kagyud lineage in Bhutan). One is Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche who is the reincarnation of Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. He is a great Master and has a huge following and oversees many monasteries, educational and retreat centers in Tibet, Bhutan, Nepal, India and worldwide. He has established several colleges and retreat centres in India and Bhutan. In accordance with the wishes of his teachers, he has travelled and taught throughout the world, establishing dharma centres in Australia, Europe, North America, and Asia. His organisation Siddharthas Intent organises Rinpoche's teachings, while Khyentse Foundation is dedicated to providing for the needs of Rinpoche's responsibilities. He is also an acclaimed film director and writer. The other grandson is Garab Dorje Rinpoche who is a Yogi Practitioner, has a growing following in Bhutan and East Asia. Rinpoche's eminent ancestry ensured him to be genuinely immersed in Dharmic activities since his childhood. Apart from his root gurus, H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche, Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje and H.H. Dungse Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, he studied under many renowned and accomplished masters and pursued higher studies at H.H Penor Rinpoche's Institute and at the Mindrolling Monastery in India. He is responsible for the welfare of several hundred monks at Rangjung Woesel Choeling Monastery, nuns at Thegchhog Kunzang Chhodon Nunnery, old folks home and four Retreat Centers in Eastern Bhutan. He has also established Buddhist Study Centers globally. At present, there are 25 Troema Choed Groups, ranging from 500 to over 1000 members throughout in Bhutan. There are also Troema Choed Groups in Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore. Garab Dorje Rinpoche is one the very important lineage holders of Dudjom New Treasure Lineage.
Dudjom Rinpoche was born in 1904, into a noble family in the south-eastern Tibetan province of Pema Ko, which is one of the "pphidden lands[[" of Padmasambhava. He was recognized as the incarnation of Dudjom Lingpa, a famous tertön, or discoverer of concealed "treasures" (terma) particularly those related to the practice of Vajrakilaya. Dudjom Lingpa had intended to visit southern Tibet to reveal the sacred land of Pema Ko, but as he was unable to do so, he predicted that his successor would be born there and reveal it himself.
In his youth, Dudjom Rinpoche studied with some of the most outstanding masters of the time. He began his studies with Khenpo Aten in Pema Ko, before attending some of the great monastic universities of Central Tibet—such as Mindrolling, Dorje Drak and Tarjé Tingpoling—and East Tibet—such as Kathok and Dzogchen. Mindrolling was the monastery to which Dudjom Rinpoche returned to perfect his understanding of the Nyingma tradition. Foremost among his many teachers were Phungong Tulku Gyurmé Ngedön Wangpo, Jedrung Trinlé Jampa Jungne, Gyurme Phendei Özer and Minling Dordzin Namdrol Gyatso.
Dudjom Rinpoche's main area of activity was in Central Tibet, where he maintained the Mindrolling tradition, and especially at Pema Chöling and his other seats in the Kongpo and Puwo regions of southern Tibet. He was renowned in Tibet for the depth of his realization and spiritual accomplishment, as well as for his unsurpassed scholarship.
Unique in having received the transmission of all the existing teachings of the Nyingma tradition, Dudjom Rinpoche was especially renowned as a great tertön, whose termas are now widely taught and practiced, and as a leading exponent of Dzogchen. Above all else he was regarded as the living embodiment and regent of Padmasambhava and his representative for this time. Known as the "master of masters", he was acknowledged by the leading Tibetan teachers of his time as possessing the greatest power and blessing in communicating the nature of mind which is necessary for enlightenment as realized in Dzogchen. It was to him that the great masters sent their students when prepared for this "mind-direct" or mind-to-mind transmission. Dudjom Rinpoche was the root teacher of many of today's most prominent masters.
Amongst the most widely read of his works are The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, Its Fundamentals and History]]; which he composed soon after his arrival in India as an exile and which is now available in English translation. This monumental history of the Nyingma School also presents a great deal of new material on the development of Buddhism in Tibet. At the invitation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Dudjom Rinpoche also wrote a history of Tibet. Another major part of his work was the revision, correction and editing of many ancient and modern texts, including the whole of the Canonical Teachings (kama) of the Nyingma School, a venture he began at the age of 74. His own private library contained the largest collection of precious manuscripts and books outside Tibet.
After leaving Tibet, Rinpoche settled first in Kalimpong, in India. He gave extensive teachings in Kalimpong and Darjeeling. These were very popular and he became famous throughout the Tibetan community. But suddenly Dudjom Rinpoche was arrested and jailed in Siliguri, falsely accused by the Dalai Lama's Tibetan Government in Exile of being a Chinese spy. Dudjom Rinpoche was not interested in the Dalai Lama's desire for a union of all Tibetan traditions. In replying to the question 'If some people have been practising according to one lineage, is it necessary for them to change lineages in order to create unity in the community?' Dudjom Rinpoche replied:
- Certainly not. Whatever practice a person is well-grounded in is what he should continue. Part of our purpose is to preserve all lineages as methods for attaining enlightenment. … as practitioners we should sustain our own tradition while respecting and rejoicing in the virtue of other traditions.
He played a key role in the renaissance of Tibetan culture amongst the refugee community, both through his teaching and his writing. He established a number of vital communities of practitioners in India and Nepal, such as Zangdok Palri in Kalimpong, Dudal Rapten Ling in Orissa, and the monasteries at Tsopema and Boudhanath. He actively encouraged the study of the Nyingma Tradition at the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, and continued to give teachings according to his own terma tradition, as well as giving many other important empowerments and transmissions, including the Nyingma Kama, the Nyingma Tantras and the Treasury of Precious Termas (Rinchen Terdzo).
When Dudjom Rinpoche was eight years old, he began to study Shantideva's Bodhicharyavatara with his teacher Orgyen Chogyur Gyatso, a personal disciple of the great Patrul Rinpoche. When they had completed the first chapter, his teacher presented him with a conch shell and asked him to blow it towards each of the four directions. The sound it made to the East and to the North was quite short, in the South it was long, and in the West longer still. This was considered to be an indication of where his work in later times would be most effective. Kham, in the east of Tibet, had been the birthplace of Dudjom Lingpa, who had already been very active in that region. In the South, throughout the Himalayan regions of Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal and Ladakh, Dudjom Rinpoche had many thousands of disciples; when, on one occasion, he gave teachings in Kathmandu intended only for a few lamas, between twenty-five and thirty thousand disciples came from all over India and the Himalayas.
In the final decade of his life, in spite of ill-health and advancing years, he devoted much of his time to teaching in the West, where he successfully established the Nyingma tradition in response to the growing interest amongst Westerners. He founded many major centres including Dorje Nyingpo and Orgyen Samye Chöling in France, and Yeshe Nyingpo, Urgyen Chö Dzong and others in the United States. During this period, he tirelessly gave teachings and empowerments, and under his guidance a number of Western students began to undertake long retreats. Dudjom Rinpoche also traveled in Asia, and in Hong Kong he had a large following, with a thriving center which he visited on three occasions.
In the 1970s, Dudjom Rinpoche conducted a few teachings in the United States and London and then some retreats at Urgyen Samye Chöling in France. Eventually, "the wanderer, Dudjom", as he sometimes used to sign himself, settled with his family in the Dordogne area of France, and there in August 1984 he gave his last large public teaching. He died on January 17, 1987.
Dudjom Rinpoche was considered a completely enlightened being yet every day he would rise hours before dawn in order to practice; in the mornings he would pray for all living sentient beings, and in the evenings for those who had died. Continually he prayed that all those who saw him, heard him, came in contact with him or even thought of him would be freed from suffering. It was prophesied that all who had taken refuge in him or anyone who had any sort of connection with him would be reborn in Padmasambhava's Pureland known as Zangdok Palri (the Copper-coloured Mountain).
The Dudjom terton lineage started in 1835 with Dudjom Lingpa. Dudjom Lingpa is considered a mind manifestation of Padmasambhava. Dudjom Lingpa was also considered a voice manifestation of Yeshe Tsogyal. Finally Dudjom Lingpa was considered the body manifestation of his own previous reincarnation, Drogben Lotsawa, who was one of the 25 main disciples of Padmasambhava.
Other reincarnations of Dudjom Lingpa, besides the most recent Dudjom Rinpoche, have been claimed. One story of his reincarnation describes a new birth occurring before Dudjom Lingpa died. In that story, he sent his main disciples to Pema Ko saying: "Go to the secret land of Pema Ko. Whoever has faith in me, go in that direction! Before you young ones arrive, I will already be there." It took a few years for the disciples to stumble upon the exact location but the very young Dudjom Rinpoche reportedly aged about three called the surprised incognito strangers by their individual names, spoke in their Golok dialect which no one else did in that area and invited them to his surprised parents' house. It is said he could remember his previous lives clearly.
Yangsi (Wylie: yang srid) or Tulku is the honorific title of a young reincarnation of a high lama. There are reportedly three known current Dudjom Yangsis. One of the three to be recognized as the incarnation of Dudjom Rinpoche was his own grandson, Sangye Pema Zhepa, born in Tibet. He was first recognized in 1993 by Tare Khandro (Tare Lhamo). Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche confirmed the recognition, as did Chatral Rinpoche who was named by Dudjom Rinpoche as his successor in a letter to take over all his spiritual matters and sit in the middle of his mandala after his death. Chatral Rinpoche has been the main teacher of Dudjom Rinpoche's grandson and reincarnation as he promised to the previous Dudjom Rinpoche who wrote a long life prayer for him. Chatral Rinpoche is considered by Nyingmas to be their highest master after Dudjom Rinpoche passed away. Nyingma luminary Thinley Norbu Rinpoche the eldest son of the Dudjom Rinpoche too, has only recognized Sangye Pema Zhepa. Other senior lamas endorsing this recognition include H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama, H.H. Minling Trichen Rinpoche, H.H. Penor Rinpoche, H.H. Sakya Trizin Rinpoche, Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche and Kathok Situ Rinpoche. He has expressed his ecological concerns and has composed a prayer for this cause. The next Yangsi Rinpoche, Tenzin Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche, who was born in Bhutan, was recognized by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Finally Sungtrul Rinpoche also known as Tulku Orgyen was born on November 6, 1988. He was born in the shrine room of his grandfather the late Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche's remote retreat land in Oregon, USA. He was recognized by Mogtsa Rinpoche. His father is Jigme Tromge Rinpoche and his mother is Rigzin Wangmo Tromge.
Dudjom Tersar is the collective name for the large collection of terma teachings revealed by Dudjom Lingpa and Dudjom Rinpoche. As a class of texts, Tersar (gTer gSar) means "new or recently revealed treasure teachings". Dudjom Rinpoche was a major terton (Wylie: gTer sTon) or treasure revealer of hidden teachings. Dudjom Rinpoche is considered one of the "Hundred Great Tertons" in the Nyingma lineage.
Most terma are small in scale and major cycles are rare. Those containing many major cycles such as Dudjom Tersar are even rarer historically. The Dudjom Tersar is possibly the most comprehensive suite of terma to be revealed in the twentieth century. Since terma traditionally are considered to be discovered during the time it is most needed, the most recently discovered terma may be the most pertinent to current needs. Recent terma is then considered to "still have the warm fresh breath of the Dakinis".
A set of preliminary practices known as Dudjom Tersar ngöndro has to be undertaken by beginners prior to higher initiations. Dudjom Tersar contains different cycles. Some are comprehensive, from beginning instruction through the highest Dzogchen teachings. There are also smaller cycles and individual practices for specific purposes.
- (a) The "Dagnang Yeshe Drawa" cycle (The Wisdom Nets of Pure Visions), such as the Troma teachings;
- (b) The "Maha-Ati Yoga Zabcho Gongpa Rangdrol" cycle (The Profound Teachings on Naturally Self-liberating Enlightened Visions), such as the teachings of Chenrezig;
- (c) The "Chonyid Namkhai Longdzo" cycle (the Vast Space Treasure from the Wisdom Sky of the Ultimate Nature), with teachings of Thekchod and Thodgal; and
- (d) The "Khandro Nyingthig" cycle.
- (a) The "Tsokyi Thugthig" cycle, for the practices on the outer, inner, secret and innermost secret sadhanas of the Lama;
- (b) The "Pudri Rekpung" cycle, for the practices of the Yidam;
- (c) The "Khandro Thugthig" cycle, for the practices on the outer, inner, secret and innermost secret sadhanas of the Khandro; and
- (d) The "Dorje Drollod" cycle.
- The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: Its Fundamentals and History, Wisdom Publications
- Wisdom Nectar: Dudjom Rinpoche's Heart Advice (Tsadra Foundation), Snow Lion Publications
- Counsels from My Heart, Shambhala Publications