Chokgyur Lingpa

The great treasure revealer Chokgyur Dechen Shyigpo Lingpa (mchog gyur bde chen zhig po gling pa) was born in Sangyal (gsang rgyal, Secret Victory), at the base of the sacred mountain Namkhadzö (nam mkha’ mdzod, Sky Treasury) in the province of Nangchen (nang chen),[i] on the tenth day of the sixth month of the year of the female earth ox (August 9th, 1829).[ii] It is said that Chokgyur Lingpa was the final reincarnation of Prince Murub Tsenpo,[iii] second son of the Dharma king Trisong Deutsen.[iv] Considered in his lineage as the last of the hundred major tertöns (gter chen, terchen),[v] Chokgyur Lingpa is regarded as the tertön meant for our times, with teachings particularly potent for our day and age.[vi] Indeed, one of the unique features of his revelations is that they include many short practices that are easy to apply and understand, making them well suited to our busy times.

Chokgyur Lingpa was also one of the most prolific treasure revealers of the nineteenth century. His revelations – together with their ancillary materials – span more than forty volumes of Tibetan pecha. They also include the three types of practices which qualify a Treasure revealer as a great treasure revealer – practices related to Guru Rinpoche, the Great Perfection, and Avalokiteśvara (bla, rdzog, thugs). Chokgyur Lingpa, moreover, was a holder of the seven transmissions, as predicted in his Treasure cycle, the Three Sections of the Great Perfection:

The unbroken Oral Lineage that comes from the scriptures,

The profound Actual Treasures and profound Mind Treasures,

The Rediscovered Treasures and the Recollected Treasures,

The Pure Vision Treasures and the Whispered Lineages —

The flowing river of these seven transmissions,

The foretold destiny of the king and his son,

Will bring honor to the teachings in degenerate times.

They will be profound and vast in reach, spreading further than sunlight.

The king and son mentioned here are Trisong Deutsen and Murub Tsenpo, who were reincarnated respectively as Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (’jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse’i dbang po, 1820-1892) and Chokgyur Lingpa. Indeed, throughout his activity as a Treasure revealer, Chokgyur Lingpa was closely associated with the two figures at the forefront of the non-sectarian Rimé (ris med) movement that flourished in Kham in the nineteenth century – namely Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thaye (’jam mgon kong sprul blo gros mtha’ yas, 1813-1899), both of whom participated in many of his Treasure discoveries and writings.[vii] These three masters were all related as teacher and disciple, each regarding the other two as gurus.  

Chokgyur Lingpa passed away in 1870, having ascended from anonymity to great renown as a Treasure revealer in his short life-span of forty-one years. After his passing, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo had a vision in which he saw Chokgyur Lingpa as the bodhisattva Pema Nyingpo (padma snying po, Lotus Essence) in his own newly-created pureland Pema Khebpé Shyingkham (padma khebs pa’i zhing khams, the Lotus-Covered Realm).[viii] The lineage of his revelations, the Chokling Tersar (mchog gling gter gsar, New Treasures of Chokgyur Lingpa), has been unbrokenly transmitted by the many great masters who have been his lineage holders, and also by his family line and line of reincarnation. The Chokling Tersar is still widely revered, and is practiced today in various monasteries in India, Tibet, and Nepal. The life, activities, and lineage of Chokgyur Lingpa are the main subject of the book the Great Tertön:

[i] A province of Kham (khams), in Eastern Tibet.

[ii] dKon mchog gyur med, gTer chen mchog gyur bde chen gling pa’i rnam thar bkra shis dbyangs kyi yan lag gsal byed ldeb, in sPrul pa’i gter chen o rgyan mchog gyur bde chen zhig po gling pa phrin las ‘gro ‘dul rtsal

gyi zab gter yid bzhin nor bu’i mdzod chen po, Vol. 39 (Kathmandu: Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, 2004), 31.

[iii] Murub Tsenpo (mu rub btsan or mu rum bstan po), also known as Yeshe Rolpa Tsal (ye shes rol pa rtsal) or Lhasey Lotsawa (lha sras lo tswa ba) was the second son of King Trisong Deutsen. It was foretold in a prophecy that he would take rebirth as a tertön thirteen times, the last of these 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 from one of Chokgyur Lingpa’s Treasures, the Basic Framework for the Sādhanās of Profound Auspicious Coincidence (rTen ’brel zab mo'i sgrub thabs mdo chings): “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.

[iv] King Trisong Deutsen (khri srong lde’u btsan, 742-c.800) was the first Tibetan King to invite Indian masters to Tibet for the translation of scriptures and to initiate widespread state sponsorship of Buddhism. See Jamgön Kongtrül Lodrö Thaye, The Hundred Tertöns, tr. Yeshe Gyamtso (New York: KTD Publications, 2011), 31-35.

[v] According to Tulku Thondup, a great tertön is a Treasure revealer who has discovered teachings related to three categories of practices: Guru Rinpoche, Avalokiteśvara and the Great Perfection (Dzogchen, rDzog chen). Thondup and Harold Talbott, Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation of the Terma Tradition of the Nyingma School of Buddhism (London: Wisdom Publications, 1986), 71.

[vi] 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 by the statements of certain of Chokgyur Lingpa’s contemporaries. As explained by contemporary lineage master Orgyen Tobgyal (orgyen stobs rgyal) : “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.” Guru Padmasamhava, Chokgyur Lingpa, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgön Kongtrül, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, and Phakchok Rinpoche, The Great Tertön (Kathmandu: Lhasey Lotsawa Translations and Publications, 2016), 163.  

[vii] Once Treasures are revealed, often in encrypted form, they need to be decoded and written down. Jamgön Kongtrül and Khyentse Wangpo were of great assistance to Chokgyur Lingpa in this respect, as shown in the biography, The Breeze that Carries the Auspicious Melody. Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, “The Breeze that Carries the Auspicious Melody in The Great Tertön, 253-324.

[viii] The Great Tertön, 309.

[ix] In Nepal, the New Treasures of Chokgyur Lingpa are mainly practiced in the monasteries of Shechen (zhe chen) and Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling (bka’ rnying bshad grub gling), as well as at the nunnery of Nagi in Kathmandu, and in the remote mountain region of Nubri. In India, they are mainly practiced in the monastery of Pema Ewam Chögar Gyurme Ling (padma e wam chos sgar gling), in Bir. In Tibet, they are still practiced at Chokgyur Lingpa’s main seats, namely the Neten (gnas rten) and Kela (ke la) monasteries in Kham. 

Practice Texts by Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa

A Supplication to the Abbot, the Master, the Dharma King, and the Translator Vairocana

This short supplication arranged by Chokgyur Lingpa combines prayers to the four founding figures of Buddhism in Tibet: the abbot Śāntarakṣita, the master Guru Rinpoché, King Trisong Deutsen, and the translator Vairocana. It is a practice in recalling the kindness of these great beings to whom we owe the spread and preservation of the Dharma in Tibet up to this day.

Radiant Sunlight of the Victors' Teachings

This short autobiography was extracted from the collection of the few writings attributed to Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa himself. This rare text covers the main events in the great Treasure revealer’s life from his birth in 1829 to 1865, five years before he passed away at the age of 42, in 1870. The translation was originally published by Lhasey Lotsawa in The Great Tertön, an anthology of the Chokling Tersar lineage of Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa’s Treasure revelations.

Sangtik Purba Sādhana

The Practice of the Single Mudrā Vajrakumāra from the Trio of the Essential Secret (Sangtik Korsum).

The Self-Occurring Lotus Essence Tantra that Liberates through Recitation, with Recitation Method

This profound and yet pithy tantra is praised by Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo as “the epitome of all the tantras, statements, and instructions; the quintessence of one billion heart practices; and the basis or root of the teachings of the Lamé Tukdrup Barché Künsel, which are endowed with inconceivable blessings and wonders.” Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa revealed this in connection with the emanation of Guru a Rinpoche known as Pema Jungne, and Jamyang Khyentsé Wangpo composed the accompanying “recitation method”.

The Swift Activity

A torma offering to the three roots and dharmapālas, also known as Lama Yidam.

Threefold Aspiration for Rebirth in Zangdok Palri

This Threefold Aspiration for Rebirth in the Copper-Colored Mountain was written by Chokgyur Lingpa and extracted from his collected works. It is a beautifully detailed and complete aspiration that covers the threefold perspective of the ground, path and fruition. The Lhasey Lotsawa team have attempted to translate it into rhythmic verse, so that you may enjoy chanting it in English while recalling the qualities of Zangdok Palri in your daily practice.