Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa
Chokgyur Dechen Shikpo Lingpa (Tib. མཆོག་གྱུར་བདེ་ཆེན་ཞིག་པོ་གླིང་པ་, Wyl. mchog gyur bde chen zhig po gling pa) (1829-1870) — a great tertön and emanation of Prince Murub Tsenpo. He was a contemporary of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgön Kongtrul, and, like Khyentse Wangpo, was entrusted with the seven special transmissions. His terma revelations, the Chokling Tersar, include the Tukdrup Barché Kunsel, the Zabtik Drolchok, the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo, the Seven Profound Cycles, and the Three Classes of the Great Perfection.
Chokgyur Lingpa was born in Sangyal (Tib. gsang rgyal; Eng. Secret Victory), at the base of the sacred mountain Namkhadzö (Tib. nam mkha’ mdzod, Eng. Sky Treasury) in Nangchen, on the tenth day of the sixth month of the female earth ox year (August 9, 1829). Chokgyur Lingpa is said to be the last reincarnation of Prince Murub Tsenpo, second son of the Dharma king Trisong Detsen. He is considered within his lineage as the last of the hundred and eight major terchen, great treasure revealers (Tib. gter chen), who were prophesied to appear in Tibet. One of the most prolific 19th century treasure revealers, his revelations, the Chokling Tersar, together with their ancillary materials span over 40 volumes, and include the three types of practices which qualify a treasure revealer as a great treasure revealer: Guru, Great Perfection, and Avalokiteshvara practices (Tib. bla, rdzog, thugs). Chokgyur Lingpa was moreover holder of the seven transmissions, as predicted in his treasure cycle, the the Three Classes of the Great Perfection:
The unbroken Oral Lineage from the scriptures,
Profound Actual Treasures and Mind Treasures,
Rediscovered and Recollected Treasures,
Pure Visions and Whispered Lineages —
The river of these seven transmissions
Flows as the fortune of the King and his son,
Doing great honour to the teachings in these degenerate times.
Vast and profound, it will spread further than sunlight.
The King and son mentioned here are Trisong Detsen and Murub Tsenpo, who were respectively reincarnated as Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo and Chokgyur Lingpa. Indeed, throughout his activity as a treasure revealer, Chokgyur Lingpa was closely associated with the two spearhead figures of the non-sectarian Rimé movement that flourished in Kham in the 19th century, namely Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo and Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thayé, who participated in many of his Treasure discoveries and writings. These three masters were all related as teacher and disciple, each of them regarding the other two as their own guru.
Chokgyur Lingpa passed away in 1870, and had thus ascended from anonymity to great renown as a treasure revealer in his short life-span of 41 years. After his passing, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo had a vision in which he saw Chokgyur Lingpa as the bodhisattva Padma Nyingpo, Lotus Essence (Tib. pad+ma snying po) in his own newly-created pure-land Padma Khebpé Shyingkham, the Lotus-Covered Realm (Tib. pad+ma khebs pa’i zhing khams). The lineage of his revelations, the Chokling Tersar, has continued to be transmitted by the many great masters who were his lineage holders and by both his family line and line of reincarnation. The Chokling Tersar is still widely revered and practiced today in various monasteries in India, Tibet, and Nepal.
The Three Seats of Chokgyur Lingpa
- Mind Seat: named Mindröl Norbu Ling, situated at Neten
- Body Seat: Karma Gön
- Speech Seat: Kela Monastery near Riwoche
- According to Tulku Thondup, a great tertön is a treasure revealer who has discovered teachings related to three categories of practices: Guru Rinpoche, Avalokiteshvara and the Great Perfection. In Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation of the Terma Tradition of the Nyingma School of Buddhism, 71.
- Murub Tsenpo was the second son of King Trisong Detsen. He was prophesied to take rebirth as a tertön 13 times, the last one being his incarnation as Chokgyur Lingpa. Thus, in his biography of Chokgyur Lingpa entitled Breeze that Carries the Auspicious Melody, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo quotes the following prophecy taken from one of Chokgyur Lingpa’s Treasures, the Basic framework for the Sadhanas of Profound Auspicious Coincidence (Tib. rten ’brel zab mo'i sgrub thabs mdo chings), which is understood to concern Chokgyur Lingpa: “The profound Treasures concealed in Sky Treasury / Will not remain there, but will be revealed by a man with aspirations. / Lhasé, this will be your last incarnation.” Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, The Breeze that Carries the Auspicious Melody, in The Great Tertön, 264.
- Though many tertöns have appeared since Chokgyur Lingpa, the latter is considered within his lineage as the last of the major tertöns. This claim is supported by various prophecies as well as the statements of certain of Chokgyur Lingpa’s contemporaries. Thus contemporary lineage master Orgyen Tobgyal explained: “In all the major chronicles of Padmasambhava’s life, in which he gives detailed predictions for the future, Guru Rinpoché announces that Chokgyur Lingpa will be the last of the hundred major tertöns to appear for the benefit of beings. Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo has said that, as last in the line, Chokgyur Lingpa’s dharma activity to benefit beings cannot be matched by that of all his predecessors added together.” In The Great Tertön, 163.
- Indeed, once treasures are revealed, often in crypted form, they need to be decoded and written down. Jamgön Kongtrül and Khyentse Wangpo assisted Chokgyur Lingpa greatly in this task, as shown in his biography, The Breeze that Carries the Auspicious Melody. Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, The Breeze that Carries the Auspicious Melody in The Great Tertön, 253-324.
- In The Great Tertön, 309.
- In Nepal, the New Treasures of Chokgyur Lingpa are mainly practiced in the monasteries of Shechen and Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling as well as the nunnery of Nagi in Kathmandu, and in the region of Nubri. In India, they are mainly practiced in the monastery of Pema Ewam Chögar Gyurme Ling in Bir. In Tibet, they are still practiced at Chokgyur Lingpa’s main seats, namely, the Neten (Tib. gnas rten) and Kela (Tib. ke la) monasteries in Kham.
- In The Light of Wisdom, Vol. I, 286.
- Doctor, Andreas. Tibetan Treasure Literature: Revelation, Tradition and Accomplishment in Visionary Buddhism. Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2005.
- Dudjom Rinpoche. The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, Its Fundamentals and History. Trans. and ed. Gyurme Dorje. Boston: Wisdom, 1991, 841-848.
- Lhasey Lotsawa. The Great Tertön. Kathmandu: Lhasey Lotsawa, 2018.
- Nyoshul Khenpo. A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage. Junction City: Padma Publications, 2005, 431-435.
- Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche. The Life of Chokgyur Lingpa. Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2000 (see External Links below).
- Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Blazing Splendor: The Memoirs of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Boudhanath, Hong Kong, Esby: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2005, Chapter. 5, 'My Great Grandfather, The Treasure Revealer'.