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Source of the Nyingma Kathok School in Tibetan Buddhism

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The advent of Tibetan Buddhism began in the dynasty of Ancient Tibet during the reign of the 29th King Lha Thothori Nyantsen. When it came to the era of the 33rd King Songtsen Gampo in AD 629, during the monarchy of Chinese Emperor Tang Taizong, court alliances were forged with the Tang Dynasty's imperial

office and the Nepalese king through marriages. Princess Wencheng and the Nepalese Princess Tritsun were invited to Tibet and their dowry included a Shakyamuni Buddha statue and copious volumes of Buddhist scriptures. In order to install the statue and Buddhist scriptures and also partially as a

geomantic remedy for the inauspicious shape of Tibet which resembled a female demon, the construction of the Larger and Smaller Jokhangs (monasteries) and 108 other monasteries ensued. At that time, despite numerous monasteries being constructed, there remained a dearth of Tibetan monastics.


Songtsen Gampo

then sent many people to study Sanskrit and Pali in India, amongst whom a high officer Thomi Sambhota created the Tibetan Language which is currently being used, exerting a far-reaching influence on the latter-day development of Tibetan Buddhism.

During the regime of the 38th King Trisong Deutsen, an edict was issued to propagate Buddhism. Khenpo Bodhisattva (Prince Shiwatso of the Indian King of Sahor), Guru Padmasambhava and many Buddhist specialists were invited to Tibet. The Samye Monastery was constructed. It was the first temple in Tibetan history which was modeled after the historical Indian Odantapura Monastery and incorporated elements of Chinese, Tibetan and Indian architecture.

The Tibetan King Trisong Deutsen invited Buddhist scholars from India, Nepal and various regions, trained talented people in translation skills and commissioned the large-scale translation of Buddhist scriptures. With the great master Vairotsana and seven others taking the lead in the experimental inception of monastic ordination in Tibet, some 300 other people followed suit to take ordination, creating the first Sangha community, thus the Buddha dharma began to flourish widely inTibet.

Since the time when Guru Padmasambhava began to teach the [[Dharma] and benefit beings, the past lineage Gurus had sustained the transmission until the Kathok lineage master Dampa Deshek. The teachings of the Dharma have continued uninterruptedly like the perpetual blossoming of thelotus flower. The lineage is described as follows:

Guru Padmasambhava Khenchen Bodhisattva Vimalamitra Vairotsana Yudra Nyingpo The translator of Nyag, Jhanakumar a Palgyi Yeshe Nubchen Sangye Yeshe Yonten Gyatso Nyang Sherab Chok Yeshe Jungney (Below are the three famous Nyingma Masters of the Zur family, they are the great Buddhist scholars of the Tantric scripture collections.) Zurpoche Shakya Jungney Zurchung Sherab Drakpa Zur Shakya Senggey (otherwise known as Sangdak Dropukpa) Dzamton Drowai Gonpo Kathok Lineage Master Dampa Deshek


King of Holy Places - Kathok Monastery

Kathok Lineage is the first amongst the lineages in the Nyingma School. Its history stretches far back, its essence is extraordinary and vast, it is the primary source of the present six lineages of Nyingma schoolvi. Some stanzas from a song says:

At this eastern place named Kathok Lion-roar prophecy of the Guru Thirteen times blessed by Padmasambhava Mountain shaped like a prone sleeping lion Termas deeply hidden in the neck of lion With karma for Padmasambhava benefitting beings I, Tsogyal, will emanate the precious Dampa Resting in the midst and fringe of the secret Ati doctrine Buddhadharma's rise and fall with no fixed count Those with affinity emerge from the gradual Tsogyal's last place of benefitting beings Hundred thousand rainbow bodies will be perfectly accomplished

For a long time, many termas have contained profuse praises of Kathok which were as abundant as snowflakes. There is no way to enumerate them one by one. The siddha Dechen Lingpa in his commentary to "Profound Terma - 25 supreme places in the Xi-kang" said that Do-shangvii was the "Sacred Place of Enlightened Activity- the Vajra Throne of Enlightenment", it is the chief of all five sacred places where Yeshe Tsogyal, who was the holder of the Vajrakilaya lineage of Padmasambhava, practiced the five activities. In a Kathok text, "Thousand Jewels of DoShang", there are verses stating:


In Southern Dzambuling frontier, At the heart of the snowland of Tibet, Kathok's unchanging Vajra throne, Sacred place of peaceful and wrathful deities of five cycles Numerous are the holy places for practice Kathok is the king of holy places

Kathok is an excellent sacred place for practitioners to accomplish the rainbow light transformation body and the dakini practice. Up to present times, about a hundred thousand people have been recorded accomplishing the rainbow light transformation body there. Therefore Kathok well-deserves its accolade of being a Vajra Throne, an epithet also given to India's Bodhgaya.

Standing at Kathok Monastery and gazing afar at the horizon, its sky resembles the eight wheels of prosperity, the land is like a fully-blossomed eight-petalled lotus flower, flanking its land are geographical patterns like the eight auspicious symbols. At its rear, the mountain is shaped aweinspiringly

like a white parasol. The hills in front bear the shape of the clockwise turning conch, it signified that Kathok's fame would be spread far and wide in the ten directions. The profile of the mountain on the right has the appearance of a leaping tiger on the rocks of fortune. On the left, there is an

outline on the mountain that seems to be a fragrant elephant carrying the load of eighty-four thousand tomes of Buddhist scriptures. If one peers upwards past the silk scarves dangling gracefully, in the mountain face below, there is an image of hands folded in the unmoving mudra beckoning the vast multitudes of devotees. The whole mountain is perfect and complete with the deportment of mighty Yamantaka.

In the profile of the mountain in front, at the level of the secret chakra, there was a triangular vermillion colored lake.

Above the navel chakra (Nirmanakaya chakra), there was a lion throne, multi-colored vajras, natural syllables of AH and KA, as well as parasols that seemed to be fashioned out of peacock feathers.


At the center of the mountain (its heart chakra or Dharmakaya chakra), on its left side was the place where the illustrious master Dampa Deshek saw Red Manjushri and Yellow Manjushri debating and built a large hall Chorkorling, to represent that there would be a unremitting stream of great scholars appearing in the Kathok lineage.

On the symbol of the throat chakra (Sambhogakaya chakra), there was a black rock which has a natural white syllable AH appearing on it. To the left of this AH syllable was a cave which is a holy place of accumulation of Avalokiteshvara's heart mantra called, "Batrul Lekden Ling"

At the crown chakra (Chakra of Great Bliss), there was a white peak, like a torma where all the deities of the Three Roots occasionally seemed to gather like a cloud and at times seemed to surround the Torma, partaking of the offering.

Above it, on the steep face, there was a naturally emanated image of Buddha Shakyamuni, to the left, there was a famous and sacred retreat cave called "Yangtul Dechen Ling". In the cave was many images, Dharma instruments, mantras which appeared naturally on the rock walls. Aside from that, lions, tigers, dragons and Garudas, the four wind-horse animals also appeared there. The entire Kathok monastery had numerous marvellous different practice caves.

Padmasambhava once brought his twenty-five disciples to stay at Kathok for twenty-five days and consecrated the place thirteen times (the meaning of consecration is to cause the blessings to permanently remain), Padmasambhava left a hand-print on a rock as he was blessing Kathok. It appeared as if he

were clutching on to something. There were also footprints of both his feet and indentations made by his robes. Many images of Padmasambhava, Dharmapalas, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas also manifested naturally on the cliff-walls. Besides that, the footprints of many Dakinis who were celebrating during the Dharma festivities at Kathok were left on the boulders. It really causes one to be amazed! Its many auspicious manifestations are parallel to those in the Lotus palace of the Great Ultimate heaven in Akanistha pureland.

When the master Vairotsana went to Gyalrong, he stayed at Kathok for a whole month to practice. Kathok's first lineage master Dampa Desheg also practiced here. His practice cave is named "Dan Pu".

Below the Kathok Monastery and situated to its left was a place of 'Gonpo'. It was the site of the thousand Buddhas. The siddha Vairotsana erected a stupa at Gonpo. It was one of the many monastery/stupa structures built to tame the female Rakshasa demon which, according to ancient geomancy, the land of Tibet resembled. This place became the area where many of the reliquary stupas of lineage masters were located.

At Kathok monastery, the sacred places considered to be the emanations of body, speech and mind blessings are : Sacred place of body - Zeqing Pawo Pungjung Sacred place of speech - Rongpu Yulo Goba Sacred place of mind - Lingchu Yangdak Puku Sacred place of qualities - Dagchen Shunla Sacred place of activities - Zhaga Dorje Pulang The meaning of the common sacred places is the Shan-nong mountains The uncommon sacred place is Palyul Noble Mountain

It is impossible to give complete detailed descriptions of Guru Padmasambhava's five dharma wheels of sacred places and the hundred and eight exalted holy sites. Therefore, Kathok is regarded as the second Manganda or the second Bodhgaya where Buddha arose. As Kathok's lineage and teachings proliferated, the sangha members increased correspondingly. When it came to the time of the fifth lineage master Yeshe Bern, the lineage had prospered to a height of having


180,000 sangha members. A hundred of Yeshe Bern's disciples attained rainbow body. The rainbow body is the culmination of the highest level of spiritual attainment possible in the widely-spread teachings left for future generations. The practitioner has integrated his physical body, nature of mind and

clarity-emptiness completely. This is identical to the wisdom body of luminosity of Buddha. The practitioner who accomplishes this may be completely obscure when he was alive but upon his death, he demonstrates that he has already realized Buddhahood and dissolves his whole body into limpid rainbow light which melts into space, leaving behind only his hair and nails. In Kathok's lineage, there have been a hundred thousand cases of rainbow body accomplishments recorded even before 1912. The silent, relentless and solid practice of these people with their body and mind has proven to the world that

the Dharma is authentic beyond the shadow of a doubt. According to historical records and supported by latter-day research, there was a magnificent story of Kathok handed down to posterity. During the construction of the Kathok monastery, there was a time when everyone was in incredible difficulties.

Someone then took this opportunity to offer them a thousand sheeps with the (wicked) hope that the people would slaughter the sheeps as food for the builders of the monastery. The master Jangchub Pawo allowed them to kill these sheeps, but after they had partaken of the meat to their satisfaction, they

piled the bloody fur and bones together. The master snapped his fingers and all the sheeps were resurrected without any harm. They continued to eat the grass as if nothing had transpired. All the bystanders who witnessed this were completely astonished. Jangchub Pawo snapped his finger again and in an

instant, all the sheeps were transformed into light and soared into the sky to the pureland of Great Bliss and Emptiness. Only a thousand sheep skins were left behind. In recent times, during the Chinese revolution, many sheep skins were found in the reliquary stupas. These sheep skins that had been left behind from a long time ago were proof that this famous tale of Kathok was not made-up.


The sixth lineage master Jangchub Pawo (Jangchub Bern) built more than a hundred monasteries of different sizes and many cabins for the sangha. As the whole of Kathok's frontal mountain was already filled with monasteries and sangha cabins, they began building on the mountain to its rear. The monastics

that filled the august Kathok mountain were so numerous that the maroon-yellow colors of their robes ranging over the verdant green mountain wilderness, cast their sheen in the sheer blue sky , often filling the sky with a radiant sunset glow. It was very picturesque! Kathok's teachings once pervaded the

whole of Tibet, Nepal, India and Mongolia, Dali and Shanxi's Five-peaked Mountain and other places locally. The Kathok school's practice, during the time of Dampa Desheg, was based primarily on the sutra, illusory tantra and mind sections amongst the Nyingmapa's Generation-Completion stages and Dzogchen scriptures, namely:


Scripture section : Sutra of the Gathering of Secret Intent Illusory Tantra section : Sutra of Illusory Web or the Sutra of Auspicious Secrets Mind section : Mind section, eighteen root and ancillary scriptures

Other scriptures included the Guhyasamaja, Cakrasamvara and Kalachakra practices. The teachings on the sutra section were given openly on a wide scale with teachings and practices conducted in groups. This nurtured many accomplished masters who later attained the state of Vidyadharaviii. The illusory tantra

and mind sections were transmitted in the manner of mouth-to-ear sublime pith instructions. This unsurpassed transmission was incomparable and galvanized the unimaginable achievements of a hundred thousand rainbow bodies and their unfathomable realms of practice. At the time of Mani Rigdzin, apart from the kama (scriptural) lineages, there were also the terma lineages of the Yang and Gu - two realized


masters who revealed earth treasures. At the time of Dzongnang Kasengye, they started to practice Ratna Lingpa's termas. During the period of Duddul Longsal Nyingpo, the Northern treasures such as Karma Lingpa's "Peaceful and Wrathful Hundred Deities of the Bardo" practice, "Embodiment of the Gurus",

making a total of nine types of practices were widely promulgated. When it came to Situ Chokyi Sengye, as he was the disciple of Jigme Lingpa, he brought the Longchen Nyingthig practices to Kathok! From Dampa Desheg onwards, the sutra and terma baskets of scriptures consisted of thirteen large compendiums of

teachings. They were the principal practices at Kathok. These were also the sources of practice done by practitioners who attained rainbow body over past generations. They were usually called the essential profound thirteen collections of teachings.

These grand and magnificent thirteen teachings are the precise compositions of the accomplished masters:

1. Zhang-dong-jie's Pith Instructions - Rosary of Views

2. Namkhai Dorje's Teachings on Semde (Mind Section)

3. Migyur Sangye Dorje's Guru's Quintessential Heart Essence

4. Yeshe Gyaltsen's Ocean of Mahamudra Core Instructions

5. Kong-ga-bern's Extensive teachings on Severance

6. Tashi Rigdzin's Dzogchen Profound Mirror of Wisdom

7. Kusali Sonam Dudjom's Profound Essential Meaning of Dzogchen

8. Horpo Chatral Gyaltsen's Direct Path to Insight of Wisdom Mind

9. Pema Madeng's Teachings on the Six Realms and Bardos 1

0. Rigdzin Dorwang Tsurpu's Uncommon Collection - Guru's Mind Ornament

11. Pema Madeng's Profound Path - Illuminated Meaning

12. Duddul Dorje's Dzogchen Teachings - Samantabhadra's Rainbow Body

13. Longsal Nyingpo's Phowa - Accepting and Rejecting Rainbow


A recent accomplished master Getse Gyurmed Dampa Namje collated these thirteen teachings and all its essential teachings completely into a compilation "Teachings of Pith Instructions - Precious Jewelled Mirror". It became an extremely important practice text for practitioners who were engaging in

meditation. As time went by, with successive generations, the Kathok lineage practitioners who spread out to different regions to spread the teachings began to set up their own branches and schools. By the time of the great accomplished master Longsal Nyingpo, there were more than a thousand monastics. When it came to the time of Situ Chokyi Gyatso, there were more than three thousand monastics. The strength in numbers of the sangha was no longer like before, however within the Kathok monastery there remained many valuable artifacts. These were, for instance, the hand-written manuscripts of the lineage masters, wood-carved print-blocks for various works and termas, the Kangyur scriptures written in gold ink, and various rare treasures. There were also

golden statues several stories high and numerous inexpressibly marvellous Buddha images and dharma items from exceptional sources such as the entirely gold plated, three storied high stupa that was bestowed by the national teacher Phakpa (Lodro Gyaltsen) of the Yuan dynasty. This stupa was a thanks-giving gift from Phakpa to his empowerment teacher, the fifth Kathok lineage master, Yeshe Bern. Yeshe Bern had conferred the Illusory Hundred Deities Bardo

empowerment on Phakpa. Another holy object is the glass stupa presented by the king of Dali, within which is a Buddha statue cast from pure gold and an upright mandala made from elephant tusks. The king also gave seven huge offering bowls which has a diameter of three meters each. There was also a statue

of Shakyamuni Buddha which was a treasure of the Wu-dang Dar-por-lee Monastery in India and many other holy objects. What is most spectacular and highly acclaimed is the world-renowned Lotus Born mandala - the Auspicious Copper Colored Palace. Its external appearance is that of a magnificent and elegant three-level palace. Its interior contains the statues and great palatial mandala of the three kayas


of Buddhahood, ie, the Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya dimensions. The wall paintings and carvings are life-like and vivid. It is like

encountering the actual Sukhavati pureland directly. The stone walls, stone pillars and roof tiles are painted with gold as thick as the horse's hide. There are also gold ornaments of parasols, banners, deers, dharma wheel and a treasure vase at the roof-ridge. There were a wealth of such splendorous

religious symbols and exquisite artistic treasures. Nonetheless, the force of impermanence did not stay its hand just because it concerned the Dharma. The natural progression of formation, abidance, destruction and void continued to creep up silently on the glorious Kathok monastery in its sacred land.

During the Chinese cultural revolution, the flood-gates of violence opened and invaded the Kathok Monastery loftily poised atop the highlands. All of the above-mentioned magnificent monastery, stupa and precious holy objects were levelled to the ground in one day. Everything was looted, leaving only the

rubbles as mementos for posterity. The sangha members were either forced to disrobe or exiled to foreign lands. Before the communist party inflicted any damage, the Kathok lineage had more than three hundred monasteries scattered all over Tibet, Bhutan, Sikkim, Mongolia, Dali and Inner China. After the

revolution, there were only a total of a hundred and thirty monasteries after including those that were recently restored. From the first founding master of Kathok, Dampa Desheg to the recent 80th lineage-holder Situ Choje Gyaltsen Rinpoche, there were a total of a hundred and twenty-three sublime masters.

Situ Choje Gyaltsen passed the mantle to the present Motsa Rinpoche, Shingkyong Rinpoche and Khenchen Gyaltsen Woser (already passed into parinirvana) who respectively maintained the lineage up to its 83rd lineage-holder. Lhoga Rinpoche is the 84th lineage-holder. After ten years of tumultuous changes, the golden throne-holders of Kathok - Motsa Rinpoche, Shingkyong Rinpoche, Khenchen Gyaltsen Woser 2

and the present abbot and lineage-holder Lhoga Rinpoche led the masses of disciples to renew and strengthen their lineage and its norms. Relentless efforts were poured into the reconstruction of monasteries, sangha residences, Buddhist college, retreat places and the resplendent glorious Copper-colored Mountain Palace of Lotus Light, in order to establish Kathok as a center for the neighbouring or distant sangha members and laity to do Dharma practice. In this way, by building up from the ashes, in these few years, the ancient Kathok has begun to manifest its might, just like a formidable lion that had returned from afar or an elephant that emerged from the muddy swamp. Thus, Kathok made its first sacred step on the important and far-reaching journey of

propagating the Dharma and benefitting beings. In 1992, the Tibetan monkey year, from the first day of the sixth month to the tenth day, the Thousand Sangha Grand Ceremony took place. There were a total of thirteen mandalas involved in the turning of the Dharma wheel. More than three thousand six hundred monastics and some tens of thousands of lay-people who participated in this great event. In 1995, the Tibetan boar year, from the first day of the

sixth month to the tenth day, the Ten-Thousand Sangha Grand Ceremony was held. In the ceremony, there were specially blessed nectar Dharma medicine. There were more than ten thousand monastics who came from the smaller Kathok-affiliated monasteries and included those sangha members who had received benefit from the Kathok lineage. From all parts of the world, there were more than ten thousand disciples of various nationalities, including Chinese and

so forth. The Kathok lineage, originating with the founding master Dampa Desheg till the present Motsa Rinpoche, Lhoga Rinpoche etc, with its excellent lineage, great practitioners who have attained ultimate realisation and the Bodhisattvas who have received the nectar of Dharma have influenced countless local and foreign people. They have benefitted limitless beings through their boundless compassion and power of the Dharma. In


accordance with Kathok's strict tradition of attaining realisation through genuine practice and its authentic mind-teachings, the aspirations of the lineage and its followers will benefit sentient beings, turn the dharmawheel and forever pervade throughout samsara without ceasing! Kathokpa Founding Master, Dampa Deshek The founding master of the Kathok Monastery, Dampa Deshek, was the actual Manjushri himself, not being in the least different from

Manjushri. He was also known as Sherab Sengye Pobpa Thaye. Dampa Deshek was once the great Indian highly accomplished Arhat Bharadvaja and later became Shantideva. He also emanated as Yeshe Tsogyal in Tibet and as the Nyak translator Yeshe Zhonnu as well as other emanations. He was born in the Kham region, in a place called Zhitra Gang in Chushi Gangdru (six waters and six ridges). His father was a yogic practitioner by the name of Tsangpa Peldrak.

His mother was Tsangmo Rinchen Gyen. His father had four sons and one daughter. His elder brother was the founder of the Phagdru Kagyu school, Phagmo Drukpa Dorje Gyelpo. Dampa Deshek was the second son. Dampa Deshek was born in 1122AD amidst many wonderful signs. His father was very pleased and named him Increasing Virtue (Gewa Pel). In his youth, he was a eloquent and resourceful boy with rosy lips and white teeth. From his infancy, he

possessed a spirit of renunciation and did not like wine or meat. From his fifth year, his father taught him to read and write. From his sixth year, he drew and sculptured Buddha images, learnt astrology, modern and ancient medical science, poetry and songs, worldly litigation and memorized the large Prajnaparamita sutra. In the meanwhile, he also received the upasaka vows from Lama Peldzin. When he was nine years old, due to his strong revulsion for

worldly affairs, he listened to the advice of his father and went to Lang, where he studied the Tripitaka of Vinaya, Sutras and Abhidharma at his brother's monastery Pelgyi Chokhor. There he received the Bodhisattva vows and his brother taught him the Dharma, inspiring him with exceedingly great joy. This was followed by him receiving the Vajra Tummo Cakrasamvara initiation where


many signs of accomplishments manifested. He also received the Palden Lhamo transmission and although Dampa Deshek had never practiced this deity, he saw Palden Lhamo descending. When Dampa Deshek was sixteen, he proceeded to Kampo and studied the Dharma with Geshe Jampa Namdak. He received many

empowerments, transmissions and learnt how to teach the Dharma. When he was nineteen, he went to Lhasa in Central Tibet and relied on Geshe Dotok Telpa Gyeltsen, Geshe Gyarmarwa, receiving many kinds of teachings such as Kalachakra and was exposed to many ways of doing practice. When Dampa Deshek was twenty-one, he went to Reting monastery where he met the Kadam scholar Sengge Zangpo who taught him the Bodhipathapradīpa, Madhyamika, Logic and gave him

the related transmissions and methods of practice. Later, he went to see the Sakya Throne-holder Sonam Tsemo and Kunga Lekpa, from whom he received the Hevajra, Lamdre, Vajra Treasury, Sakya Vajrakilaya and so forth. He received Yamataka initiation from the various lineages of Sakya, oral transmissions and many teachings. Dampa Deshek once went to the inner court of Maitreya in the Tushita heaven in his meditation and received many incomparably pure

clarifications of his doubts. He relied on Ratna Sengge, Kam Lotsawa and various other great translators for teachings on Vajravarahi and Cakrasamvara. After receiving the empowerments, he practiced arduously in retreat. When Dampa Deshek was twenty-four, he went to Penyul Gyel and took ordination with Jangchub Sengge. He was given the name Sherab Sengge (Lion of Intelligence). He made great efforts to study the Nyingma teachings including the Dzogchen,

Generation and Completion Stages, practices related to the Prana, Nadi and Tigle and all the transmissions and initiations. His realisation and knowledge became unimpeded like the Buddha! Extrasensory perceptions manifested in a wonderous manner, and in every practice he engaged, the deity appeared. All the accomplished


masters in Tibet praised him as a great scholar and mahasiddha, his fame spread in the ten directions! When he was twenty-five, he went to the range of mountains Gangtishe and met with the disciple of Milarepa-- Rechungpa. He received the teachings on the blue Cakrasamvara and the formless Dakini. Later

he also met Repa Shiwa-tso and learnt the tummo practice from him. He went to Narthang Buddhist college which had the highest location in Tibet to receive the full Bhikshu vows from Khenchen Depa Nagkyi who was in the lineage of Lu-med Sherlajyangix. From then on, he kept his vows like Nuangker of India.

He also received the Vidyadhara symbolic lineage of the Nyingmapas and the hidden treasure lineages -- both the kama and terma lineages. He also received the empowerments and all the teachings of the Mind, Space and Pith Instructions sections of the four basic texts of the Illusory Web from Dzamton Drowa'i

Gonpo who was the disciple of one of the Nyingma Zur masters, Zur Shakya Sengge (Sangdag Drophugpa). When Dampa Deshek was twenty-nine, his teacher Dzamtonpa predicted that Dampa would accomplish the rainbow body if he practiced at the Kampo mountains, but that if he went to the Kathok holy site where

Guru Padmasambhava practiced to teach and propagate the dharma, there would be more than a hundred-thousand disciples attaining rainbow body, His teacher also predicted that Dampa Deshek's lineage would last for more than a thousand years! Following that, Dampa Deshek made his way to Zangri Khamar where he

learnt the Chod teachings from Tho-nyon, son of the Chod founding master Machig Labdron, and a 'crazy' accomplished yogi named Drubtob Nyonpa Donden. He also went to Dolpo, where he received Mahamudra teachings from Dakpo Lharje (Gampopa), the main disciple of Milarepa. In Tsari, Dampa Deshek practiced in

retreat for four months. After he had attained accomplishment, Dampa Deshek returned to his teacher (Gampopa) and offered his realisation to his teacher. When he recited the six syllables mantra, rainbow light shone from his mouth. After


the teacher bestowed upon him the full set of Dharma robes and accoutrements, blessed objects and a offering scarf (khata), Dampa Deshek left to look for the Kathok mountains. Dakpo Lharje also made a prophecy then that Dampa Deshek would choose the path of benefitting beings! Dampa Deshek also met Karmapa Dusum Khyenpa on his way. Their realisations were equal and Dampa Deshek also received teachings and initiations from Karmapa, becoming his excellent disciple. By this time, Dampa Deshek had received teachings from more than a hundred teachers amongst the mahasiddhas and had perfected all stages of the path! Between the age of thirty-three and thirty-five, Dampa Deshek went to the kingdom of Dali in Nan-Xia (Nan Chao) and the country of Ling. He taught the Dharma to the royalty. Through the patronage of the royalty and his status as their master, Dampa caused some nine-hundred people to take ordination and gave them various initiations and transmissions from different schools. At the age of thirty-six, Dampa Deshek returned to his home-town and the local mountain god came to welcome him and left after receiving some teachings from Dampa Deshek. He searched for Kathok with his attendant Dorje Gyaltsen and

reached the village Horpo at the foot of the Kathok mountains. At Yungdrung Tangdar in Horpo, there was a Bonpo monastery, above which Palden Lhamo appeared and kindly indicated the direction of Kathok saying, "Son, go in that direction!" Dampa Deshek followed the directions of Palden Lhamo and saw

thirteen young boys herding cows. He asked the boys, "Where is Kathok?" The boys unanimously pointed at an opposite hill. He continued on the way and discovered a huge rock with a natural syllable "Ah" and "Ka" in the forest. The lion-like mountain had a jade lake. Dampa Deshek walked to the retreat place of the great master Vairotsana, beside Yang-tso-chu's retreat cave, water sprouted out spontaneously.


In the Horpo village, the ruler Gelu admired Dampa Deshek's practice very much but because most of the people ascribed to the Bon beliefs, there was no major following of Dampa Deshek. Auspicious factors soon ripened and Gelu became a sponsor of Dampa Deshek, gradually, disciples increased like the waxing

of the moon, their devotion to their teacher became stronger and stronger, they were willing to help Dampa Deshek establish a monastery and requested him to stay on in that area. When the decision was made to build the monastery, the Bon mountain god Duo-nen who had hitherto received his offerings from the Bon worshippers was apprised of it and created obstacles to the construction by taking a human form at night. At that time, Dampa Deshek was teaching the

Cakrasamvara tantra. The next morning, it was snowing heavily, Dampa Deshek and his attendants Dorje Rohe and the Bhikshu Deng-po went out hunting down the mountain god and traced his footsteps to a large boulder. Dampa Deshek drilled two holes into the boulder which happen to be the deity's nostrils and tied it with a rope. He asked his disciple to drag the boulder (with the mountain god in it) and while dragging, Dampa Deshek whipped the rock so that

stripes after stripes of welts appeared on it. The whipping went on until the rock was tugged to the side of a stream beside Kathok monastery. The mountain god was in unbearable pain and could only surrender in the end by taking a vow to protect Kathok! From then on, the huge boulder remains in that place, where the whipped welts are amazingly still visible today! After that, Dampa Deshek's disciples and listeners of his teachings multiplied by the day

till there were more than a thousand followers. They built the monastery in the day and listened to the teachings at night, practicing purification of negative karma while listening to the teachings through the hard work of building the monastery. All the builders, stonemasons and craftsmen poured their heart and soul into the construction of the Kathok monastery day and night.


The Kathok monastery had a huge main hall. Beside the main hall were the Gongka-la (gardens) and the hall of Awakened-Incense. In the main hall was a very large Buddha statue, wall paintings, other statues of Buddhas of the past, present and future as well as the eight Bodhisattvas, door gods, protectors

and other such murals. Treasured collections of Dharma objects include the hand-written scripts of Padmasambhava and Vimalamitra, the five Indian illusion-like sutras written on palm-leaves, the robes of the Mahasiddha Sangdag Drophugpa, Mahasiddha Zurpoche Shakya Jungne's tooth, Lama Atisha's Pandit

hat, Nub Sangye Yeshe's Vajrakilaya dagger, Buddha Shakyamuni's body relic, Tengyur, hand-copied Kangyur and the large Prajnaparamita sutra written in gold ink and silver ink. In all, there were more than a thousand three hundred tomes. Kathok Monastery's construction began in 1159 AD, lasted for two years

and was completed in the year of the Dragon. When Kathok monastery was consecrated, the clear bright sky suddenly revealed rainbows and the entire Kathok monastery was cloaked in halos of light. There were exquisite music wafting through space and the sounds of Dharma instruments. Many fresh colorful

flowers showered down like rain, and many auspicious signs occurred that indicated the presence of the deities residing in Kathok. Many people saw these marvelous and rare auspicious signs and were so exhilarated that it seemed they were transported beyond their bodies and minds. More than four thousand

monastics and vow-holders from various parts of Tibet, Dali and Li-Jiang etc, came to be part of the sangha and practiced the Mahayana, Kalachakra, Cakrasamvara, Yamantaka, Auspicious Illusory and so forth. The Ling King (a descendant of King Gesar) invited Dampa Deshek to the country of Ling. On this occasion, Dampa Deshek received the armor of Gyatsa - the minister of King Gesar.


Dampa Deshek became increasingly powerful and influential which led to discontent of the Bonpos, some of whom practiced sorcery in a cave called Ganbu to curse him but the spell was turned back by Palden Lhamo which caused a huge boulder to crush the cave, killing the Bonpos. Dampa Deshek drew a visva-vajra (crossed vajra) on the boulder with his finger and the rock remains to this day. It is called the 'rock that buried eight people'. The ruler of Horpo, Gelu, Xi-Sha's King Tajin, Li-jiang's King of Dali, King of Ling, Kongpo Kaleb, Eastern Tsongka, Gyalrong etc and the various local rulers were venerated Dampa Deshek highly and were his sponsors. When Dampa Deshek was forty, he established a college and retreat center. He initiated the great practice of

the "Secret United Collection" where there was an attendance of more than two thousand Bhikshus. In the summer he concentrated on teaching the sutric and tantric scriptures and commentaries. In the winter, he gave empowerments, transmissions and in the course of three years, Dampa Deshek taught a syllabus of how to peruse the sutras, debate on the scriptures, teach the scriptures, listen to the scriptures, logic and epistemology, craftsmanship, medicine,

astrology, Vinaya, Prajnaparamita, Madhyamika, Abhidharma, Lam-Rim Chenmo, Yamantaka, Lamdre, Kagyu's Six Yogas of Naropa, Mahamudra, Kalachakra and such tantras of the ancient and new schools. He also taught the methods of practice, gave empowerments and transmissions of the Nyingma scriptures, Mayajala tantra (Magical Net), the three heart sections, Sem-de, Long-de, Men-ngag-de, and all the various empowerments and transmissions. He gave teachings

adapted to the diverse capacities of beings. In a single day, Dampa Deshek could transmit up to thirteen different teachings! When Dampa Deshek's root teacher Dzamtonpa attained the rainbow body at the age of 100, Dampa Deshek organized a major Dharma ceremony at Kathok monastery to commemorate his teacher. By then, Dampa Deshek had disciples who were as numerous as the stars and amongst them two


were outstandingly brilliant like the sun or moon, they were Tsangtonpa (the second lineage master Tsangton Dorje Gyaltsen) and Khenchen Draye. Disciples who attained the rainbow body: Acharya Bernton, Drari Lama Kunja-er, Yontan Bern from Central Tibet, Jamyang Yontan, Monk of Ling Shela etc. Those who attained realization instantaneously when listening to the teachings include the three friends of Gyarong: Bhikshu Sherab Gyaltsen, Sherab Sengge (Dorje) and Sherab Pawo Ten disciples attained the stage of supreme attainment (amongst the four stages of warmth, peak, patience and supreme attainment), while

three disciples attained patience, there were more than a hundred great Acharyas and more than eighty thousand monastics. The monastics of Kathok were unfettered by worldly concerns through the guidance of Dampa Deshek. Their outer appearance were noble and dignified while internally they were fully of

the supreme Bodhichitta and profound realizations. The Sangha at Kathok in that period became the wellspring for the great wisdom and Mahasiddhas of the snowy land of Tibet! Dampa Deshek taught countless students in his life. The scriptures of Vinaya, Sutra and Abhidharma he propagated, compositions about

his practice and view, practice texts, the accounts of his conduct and speech, his poetries and songs, and other writings for benefitting the minds of others are assorted and bountiful. They are rich and vast, acclaimed by others and make up a total of nineteen volumes. But due to impermanence and the

evanescence of this world, nothing is left of these! From his infancy, the auspicious Mahakala (Four-armed Mahakala) and the self-arisen Goddess (Palden Lhamo) have been by Dampa Deshek's side to protect him. Many mountain gods and earth deities have also complied with his orders and performed tasks for him. He could see Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, Vajrapani, Maitreya, Tara, Vajrakilaya, Cakrasamvara,


Yamantaka and other Bodhisattvas and mandalas directly. Dampa Deshek was able to meet directly the great Indian Mahasiddha Saraha (Nagarjuna's teacher), Birwapa, Indrabhuti, Balatatra and converse with them. He often saw Sukhavati (pure realm of Amitabha) and the pure realm of Guru Rinpoche in his

meditations and received the prophecies, teachings and predictions of both Amitabha Buddha and Guru Padmasambhava. Dampa Deshek had the following external signs of accomplishment: his body did not cast any shadow; he had no obstructions in walking, standing, sitting or lying down, and could pass

through walls, the external material world seemed to have no hold over him; his body often emitted the variegated colors of rainbow light which could be seen with our normal eyes. Dampa Deshek could also carve the six syllables mantra (OM MANI PADME HUNG) on the hard rocks with merely his finger; when he

was practicing, nectar naturally flowed from all the tormas used in his practice, the skies rained with fresh flowers and dharma music resounded in the space. The sounds of the Amitabha epithet and mani mantra were often heard continuously out of thin air. He was able to know with exactitude everything

in the past, present and future. These unique abilities were well known by many people and his story continues to be passed on today. When Dampa Deshek was 70 years old, he transmitted the Bodhisattva vows and initiations to more than 70,000 devotees. At that time, he passed his Pandita hat and old

mantle to the holder of his mind transmission, Tsangton Dorje Gyaltsen, appointing him as the successor of the lineage. Khenpo Yedra was appointed as the main professor of the Buddhist college and Gonpo Buchungpa as the main teacher of the practice center. When Dampa Deshek was 71, he gathered all the

disciples and advised them: "Regardless of the height of your view, the Buddhadharma's essence is contained in the Vinaya, therefore, pay close attention to all your speech and conduct, exercise utmost caution ; the Buddhadharma's crucial meaning is not found in the mastery over words and texts but in the comprehension and realization of the heart-essence of the definitive meaning; no matter what level of practice of the Hinayana, Mahayana or Vajrayana you are engaging in, nothing is more important that taming your own mind! You should put yourselves in a lowly position and learn humbly; you must all focus on practice diligently and regard Dharma practice as the only goal. The

reason for the continuous manifestation of rainbow body by the lineage Gurus is due to the merits of diligent practice! If I had gone to the Kampo mountains to practice, ordinary beings will witness my attainment of rainbow body, however, due to the necessity of perpetuating the Buddhadharma and to pass the lineage to later generations, I have chosen the practice path of teaching the Dharma. To me, there is utterly no difference between the two paths

because I have already attained the eternal level of perfection. Dampa Deshek further instructed repeatedly: You must never forget Bodhichitta, never ever forget this, practice is to look back at your own nature, don't seek externally! During this time, Kathok Monastery held a huge feast-offering ceremony. After the ceremony had concluded, the disciples knew that Dampa Deshek was nearing his parinirvana and repeatedly requested him to stay on, Dampa Deshek

replied, "The causes and conditions for this body to truly benefit beings have been exhausted, I would be going to the pureland of Amitabha. I pray that the Buddhadharma will continue to remain for a long time, flourish and be taught to many beings, and that the lineage holders will live long and benefit beings!" Following this, he went to the Garden of Holy Dharma and Amassed Delights, faced the western direction, placed his hands in the mudra of resting

in the nature of mind and entered parinirvana! This was on the fifteenth day of the fourth month in 1192 AD. According to Tibetan Buddhism, this is also the day on which Buddha Shakyamuni entered his mother's womb, attained enlightenment and entered parinirvana.


When Dampa Deshek entered parinirvana, instantly the earth quaked nine times in thunderous roars and a rainbow appeared, spanning from the western horizon to the place where Dampa Deshek had entered parinirvana. It was just like a bridge of seven colors. The clear sky began to snow and all the beings who

witnessed these auspicious signs aroused unparalleled faith and planted the seeds for liberation from samsara. Dampa Deshek's disciple (the second Kathok lineage master), Tsangton Dorje Gyaltsen, led three hundred Bhikshus to conduct the cremation. During the cremation, a huge red flower grew out from the side of the pyre. After the cremation, Buddha figures manifested on the skull bone and an image of the thousand arms, thousand eyes Avalokiteshvara

appeared on the forehead bone, beside Avalokiteshvara was the Amogapasha bodhisattva, on his right is the five Dhyani Buddhas, in the four directions are the four door-guarding deities, at the crown is the Herukas of the ten sections, on the right side of the crown is Samantabhadra, on the left side are the sixteen deities of Go and Shing, on the interior is Manjushri, on the posterior is Vajrakilaya. Behind the spine is Shakyamuni Buddha, Shariputra and

Maudgalyayana. Many Buddha images can be seen on the skull bone. The Buddha images were extremely minute, identical to the original Buddha forms and somewhat akin to miniaturized carvings. This precious and amazing skull-bone relic is still preserved up till today. After the cremation, a thousand relics manifested. The monastics created a stupa and hall to commemorate Dampa Deshek, preserve the holy traces of his activities and to celebrate his incredible accomplishment of Dzogchen.


i AD 500, the king Lha Thothori Nyantsen was residing at Yong-Bula Palace when from the sky fell volumes of the "Hundred Prostrations Amending and Confession Sutra", a golden stupa, "Heart-essence of Jewel Ornament Sutra taught by Buddha -- the Mani mantra" , "Cittamani Practice". A voice from the sky announced, "Five generations from now, the meanings in these scriptures would be known." Thereupon, the King Lha Thothori Nyantsen ensconced these texts in the treasure vault of the palace and made


offerings earnestly to pray for good fortune. He named them the "Secret Exalted Treasure". This was the beginnings of Tibetan Buddhism. ii Khenpo Bodhisattva, also known as 'Silent Life' or 'Guardian of Peace' (Shantarakshita) took ordination under the translator Wisdom Treasure at Nalanda monastery,

and undertook the Upasampada (full set of Bhikshu vows). He was a Madhayamaka master and author of the Madhyamakalankara (Adornment of the Middle Way). iii Lotus-born, Guru Rinpoche or otherwise known as Padmasambhava was born in western India in the ancient kingdom Oddiyana. He was fostered by the King Indrabhuti in the position of prince. The King named him 'Lotus-born', later he went to Manjala and was ordinated by the translator Prabhahasti. Padmasambhava received the Kagye teachings from the eight Vidyadharas and received the Guhyagarbha teachings from the translator Buddhaguhya. From Shri Singha, he listened to many sutric and tantric teachings but primarily the Dzogchen teachings. Padmasambhava wandered through Manjala, India, Bhutan,

Nepal etc, leading many beings with affinity to take refuge in Buddhism. iv Samye monastery's architectural syle: its main hall symbolizes Mount Meru, the smaller halls that surround it symbolize the four main continents, the eight subsidiary continents, sun and moon. Stupas frame the borders of the


monastery. It is a very majestic monastery. Samye monastery has survived several great fires, renovations and repairs were carried out each time to restore it. In the 11th century, monastic Diaspora began to return to Tibet and congregated at Samye monastery, thus making it the main monastery of the

Nyingmapas. v In an experiment to determine if the Tibetans' lifestyle was suited for holding the ordination vows, seven men were put to the test. This was called the 'experimental inception' or 'Tibetan experiment of the seven awakened ones.' vi The six Nyingmapa schools are Kathok, Palyul, Dzogchen,

Shechen, Mindrolling and Dorje-drak. vii "Do-shang" is the name of an ancient place. viii A realized practitioner who has at least attained the first Bhumi of Bodhisattvahood ix Lu-med Sherlajyang is a Tibetan Buddhist scholar during the time of the Northern Sung dynasty. He received precepts from Gongpa

Raser and returned to Tibet. He is the foremost of the ten youths of UTsang (who played a role in restoring the purity of precepts in a time of degeneration of discipline in Tibet)




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