Tendrel Nyesel (Tib. rten ‘brel nyes sel) is a sadhana revealed as a terma by Tertön Sogyal. It is a special practice for eliminating inauspiciousness by invoking Guru Padmasambhava, together with the buddhas and bodhisattvas and the mandalas of the hundred peaceful and wrathful deities, Tsokchen Düpa, Lama Gongdü and Kagyé.
The terma of Tendrel Nyesel contains three practices, an elaborate or long one, ‘The Profound Instruction of Tendrel Nyesel’; a medium length one, ‘The Medium Length Practice of Tendrel Nyesel’; and a brief one, ‘The Brief Practice of Tendrel Nyesel’. It is the brief one that we use for daily practice.
The terma of Tendrel Nyesel was revealed by Lerab Lingpa in the year 1900. His biography describes how, at night on the tenth day of the seventh Tibetan month, Guru Rinpoche and the dakinis of the five buddha families appeared to him in a dream and gave him the complete empowerment and instructions of Tendrel Nyesel. On the twenty-fifth day, he performed a tsok feast offering of Khandro Sangwa Kundü, and prayed that there be no obstacles to the discovery of the terma, and for its revelation to bring tremendous benefit. During the tsok feast, Lerab Lingpa had a clear vision of the site where the terma would be found. Two days later, he received the casket containing the Tendrel Nyesel from the terma protector in a secret cave. He said he felt happier at that moment than when revealing any other of his termas.
The next evening, Guru Rinpoche appeared to him, riding a tiger and making a prophecy concerning the decipherment of the terma. From the tenth to the twelfth day of the eighth Tibetan month, Lerab Lingpa deciphered the Tendrel Nyesel, made many fervent prayers of aspiration, and was consumed with a feeling of joy. To decipher that many folios, as he did, in just over two days with no error, omission or fault, was an extraordinary feat.
In the following year in Lhasa, Lerab Lingpa offered the empowerments and transmission of Tendrel Nyesel to the Thirteenth Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, who composed a liturgy and prayer to the Tendrel Nyesel protectors. Another great master on whom Lerab Lingpa bestowed the complete transmission of Tendrel Nyesel was Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. He in turn conferred it on Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, insisting that he continue the lineage of Tendrel Nyesel.
In time, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche offered the empowerment and transmission to His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, and, while teaching in various western countries, fulfilled His Holiness’s request that he compose a text with ritual instructions for granting the empowerments of Tendrel Nyesel. At the end of the empowerment text, he praises the Tendrel Nyesel: “This profound teaching, so pertinent in this age, is like a secret treasure of advice never known before, one that is easy to practise and simple to apply,” and recalls Jamyang Khyentse’s encouragement to maintain the lineage of Tendrel Nyesel. He writes:
"In keeping with his words, I offered these nectar clouds that mature and liberate—with the intention of bringing benefit and happiness to the teaching and beings of Tibet, the ‘Land of Snow-capped Mountains’—to Ngawang Lobsang Tenzin Gyatso, the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, who is praised in the vajra prophecies of the omniscient Guru of Orgyen as a holder of this very teaching. In turn, he gave me a command which I kept as one would wear a precious diadem on the crown of one’s head, and I composed this clear arrangement with the pure intention to continue the tradition of transmission, empowerment and explanation."
The Tendrel Nyesel, which invokes the wisdom, compassion and power of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, Guru Rinpoche and the mandalas of all the tantric deities, is famed as a practice dedicated specifically to averting the inauspiciousness of the times. With world events hanging in the balance, including the future predicament of Tibet, the empowerment of this powerful practice at this point is considered by many lamas to be particularly timely and extremely significant. There is an all-encompassing, universal quality to the Tendrel Nyesel, both in the number of buddhas and deities whose blessing is invoked, and in its reach and effect throughout the universe in eliminating, preventing, protecting against and transforming harm and conflict. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche describes it:
“Using the power of skilful means and practical instructions, it is possible to heal all such harm, to prevent it from arising, to guard against it, and to increase positive circumstances. This wonderful practice of the undeceiving and unsurpassed secret mantra is extremely powerful and effective, and combines visualization of deities, mantra, realization of the view and samadhi. What is more, it is straightforward and easy to practise, and the signs of its blessing have not diminished.
“So this practice of Tendrel Nyesel is really just like a wish-fulfilling jewel, an instruction that brings benefit and happiness to fortunate beings, given to us by the second Buddha, the Great Master Padmasambhava. Imparted to the secret consort Yeshe Tsogyal and the master Nanam Dorje Dudjom, it was concealed as a precious earth terma, and later revealed and spread by the great tertön Lerab Lingpa as a gift that would bring benefit and happiness to Tibet, the Land of Snows.”
The Empowerment of Tendrel Nyesel
The empowerment has been given to the Rigpa Sangha on many occasions, including: