- Dakini Teachings
- Padmasambhava's oral instructions to Lady Tsogyal
- Recorded and concealed by Yeshe Tsogyal
- Revealed by Nyang Ral Nyima Öser and Sangye Lingpa
- Translated according the oral teachings of Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche by Erik Pema Kunsang
Rangjung Yeshe Publications
Boudhanath, Hong Kong & Esby
Dakini Teachings: Padmasambhava's Oral Instructions to Lady Tsogyal. From the revelations of Nyang Ral Nyima Özer, Sangye Lingpa and Dorje Lingpa.
Translated from the Tibetan according to the teachings
of Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche by Erik Pema Kunsang (Erik Hein Schmidt). Edited by Marcia Binder Schmidt.
jo mo la gdams pa'i skor, jo mo zhu lan, mnga' bdag myang gi dmar khrid, bla ma dgongs 'dus las mtsho rgyal zhu lan, rdo rje gling pa'i mar gyi yang zhun.
ISBN 962-7341-36-3 (pbk.)
1. Dakini Teachings, Vol. I. 2. Eastern philosophy — Buddhism.
3. Vajrayana — Tibet. I. Title. II. Padmasambhava (8th Cent.). III. Ye shes mtsho rgyal (8th Cent.). IV. Myang ral nyi ma'i 'od zer (1124-1182). V. Sangs rgyas gling pa (1340-1396). VI. rDo rje gling pa (1346-1405).
Cover art: Tibetan painting of Yeshe Tsogyal. Courtesy of Kunzang Choling.
Dakini Teachings is a collection of advice selected from several revealed 'treasure teachings,' terma. It contains Guru Rinpoche's oral instruction on Dharma practice given during his stay in Tibet in the 9th century. These advice were recorded by his chief disciple, the dakini Yeshe Tsogyal, the princess of Kharchen. She wrote these oral instructions down in a secret code language called 'dakini script' and concealed them as precious terma treasures to be revealed by tertons many centuries later. Padmakara himself predicted the arrival, names and periods of the revealers. The teachings they would receive in actuality or in visions, would be appropriate for the people in their own and in following generations. Almost every chapter in this book mentions that these teachings were given for the benefit of practitioners of future generations and includes the words: "May this meet with all worthy and destined people in the future!"
Dakini Teachings is based on the revealed termas of the 12th century terton, Nyang Ral Nyima Oser. The manuscripts that I have used were kept in the Royal Danish Library, having been brought back from a Mongolian monastery by an explorer of Central Asia many decades ago. When His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche visited the library in 1976, he asked to be shown all the original handwritten manuscripts and decided to have photocopies made of six volumes of books that were unavailable at that time in India. Among these six were a collection of some of Nyang Ral's termas called Jomo Shulen, The Questions and Answers of the Lady (Tsogyal). This volume was later reprinted in its original form by Sherab Drimey, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse's printer in New Delhi. When later I presented Venerable Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche with this book he expressed great delight in reading it and gave me a lot of encouragement in preparing this translation. He also pointed out another similar collection of Nyang Ral's termas called Nyang-gyi Martri, The Direct Instructions of Nyang. Jamgon Kongtrul had found this text important enough to include in the 60th volume of the Rinchen Terdzo. When comparing these two manuscripts I found that both contained invaluable advice by Padmasambhava that were sometimes identical and sometimes totally different. They were obviously from two entirely different sources, the first of which had not been available to Jamgon Kongtrul when preparing the Rinchen Terdzo.
It is now about 800 years since Nyang Ral Nyima Oser lived and quite a few omissions and spelling mistakes crept in each time the manuscripts were hand-copied. Even the mistakes were not the same in the two versions. Therefore I relied on a third collection of termas by the 14th century master Sangye Lingpa. Parts of this collection had almost identical wording to the terma of Nyang Ral Nyima Oser. The reason for the duplication is that both masters, in their former lives, were present when Guru Rinpoche gave the teaching. Nyang Ral Nyima Oser was the reincarnation of King Trisong Deutsen and Sangye Lingpa was the reincarnation of Trisong Deutsen's second son, Murub Tseypo. There was enough material in these three collections to fill four additional books of English translation, so I selected what seemed to be most appropriate for the present day and age.
The key figure who requested and recorded the advice, for our benefit, was Padmasambhava's chief female disciple, Yeshe Tsogyal. According to Jamgon Kongtrul's Lives of the 100 Tertons, Yeshe Tsogyal was a dakini and an emanation of the female buddha Lochana, the consort of Buddha Ratnasambhava as well as of Vajra Yogini appearing in the form of a woman. She served Guru Rinpoche during his stay in Tibet and afterwards practiced with tremendous perseverance so that she finally became equal to Guru Rinpoche himself. Her compassion is matchless and her blessings are unceasing.
Having received all the instructions of Guru Rinpoche, Yeshe Tsogyal encoded them in dakini script to be revealed centuries later. The first revelation appeared to Nyang Ral Nyima Oser (1124-1192). These short biographical notes about his life of are extracted from The Lives of the 100 Tertons.
Nyang Ral is considered the first of the Five Terton Kings prophesied by Guru Rinpoche. He was a reincarnation of Trisong Deutsen, the king who initially invited Guru Rinpoche to Tibet and who was also known as Tsangpa Lhai Metok, 'divine flower of Brahma.'
One evening he saw Guru Rinpoche riding a white horse carried by the four classes of dakinis and received the four empowerments by drinking nectar from Guru Rinpoche's vase. Upon receiving the empowerments he had the experience of the sky breaking open, the earth and mountains trembling and he started to act in various strange ways to such an extent that everyone considered that he had gone insane.
His father then gave him the empowerment of Hayagriva and after practicing in retreat he had a vision of the deity, his phurba dagger emitted the neigh of a horse and he left imprints of his hands and feet in solid rock.
In accordance with a prediction from the dakinis, he went to Mawo Chogi Draktsa where he was given the name Nyima Oser, 'Beam of Sunlight,' by the wisdom dakinis. After this he was renowned under that name.
Guru Rinpoche appeared to Nyang Ral Nyima Oser in person and gave him the lists of termas he was to reveal. Accordingly, he revealed many volumes of terma teachings among which the most well known is the Kabgye Deshek Dupa, a cycle of teachings focusing on the Eight Heruka Sadhanas, and his revealed biography of Guru Rinpoche known as Sanglingma.
During his life he maintained a balance between practicing in retreat and teaching others. His activity stretched to the corners of the world and had a tremendous impact on the continuation of the Dharma.
In the year of the Male Wood Mouse he passed away at the age of 69 accompanied by many wonderful signs.
Jamgon Kongtrul, personally gathered all the transmissions for Nyang Ral's terma teachings, had the wood blocks carved for the nine volumes of Kabgye Deshek Dupa and performed its group sadhana many times. In that way I was able to offer my humble service to these teachings.
Here is some information describing how Nyima Oser received the actual terma from which the Dakini Teachings are taken, extracted from his biography called The Clear Mirror which is found in the second volume of Kabgye Deshek Dupa:
Later, when I stayed in retreat practicing guru sadhana at the Pearl Crystal Cave of Junifer Ridge, one evening a white girl appeared and said she was Yeshe Tsogyal. She wore a blue dress with an apron and a shirt of white silk and said, "Yogi, what do you want?" "I want nothing but the Dharma!" I replied. "Then I will give you that," she said and handed me a casket with the scriptures of prophesies of the dakinis as well as the 108 cycles of questions and answers.
Then she said, "Son, come with me to the Sitavana charnel ground! Acharya Padma and the eight great vidyadharas as well as numerous other worthy yogis are holding a great Dharma assembly. We, the dakinis, are holding a great feast gathering, so come!"
We went there and I saw the great charnel ground -- it was intimidating and frightening and impossible to approach by unworthy people. It the center sat a yogi with light brown skin on a huge throne made out of precious stones. He said, "Isn't that my son, Tsangpa Lhai Metok? Has wandering in samsara been a strain for you?" He told me then to sit down on a heap of human bones. I sat down.
In front of him there was a big mandala adorned with numerous ornaments encircled by a latticework of light rays. In the eight directions around it I saw that the eight vidyadharas of India and Tibet sat with smiling faces. I was overjoyed.
Then the previous girl asked me, "Son, do you want to enjoy a feast gathering or the wheel of Dharma?" In reply I said, "Please turn the wheel of Dharma for me." Immediately, I was given the preliminary steps for initiation into this great mandala after which I went to the mandala's eight directions where each of the masters conferred upon me the extensive empowerments for each of the eight teachings and entrusted me with the lineage.
The yogi in the center who said he was Padmakara gave me the great empowerment of the Assemblage of the Peaceful and Wrathful Sugatas. He also gave me the books and taught me the melodies for the chanting.
All the vidyadharas then simultaneously gave the empowerment for learning and retaining, the empowerment for meditating and practicing, the empowerment for explaining and teaching, the empowerment for taming beings through the activities, the empowerment for the all-encompassing command of a vajra king, and the Dzogchen empowerment for the display of awareness.
Having received all these empowerments in their entirety, I was given a white conch and told to return home. The very moment I heard that, the whole scenery of the charnel ground and all the masters vanished just like vapor disappearing from a mirror. When I regained my senses, I found that I was back in my meditation hut.
The second terma used for comparison when clearing up the spelling mistakes and omissions when preparing Dakini Teachings was reveled by Sangye Lingpa (1340-1396). He took birth in Kongpo, the southeastern province of Tibet in the year of the Male Iron Dragon, the same year the 4th Karmapa, Rolpey Dorje, was born. Sangye Lingpa is considered an incarnation of Yeshe Rolpa Tsal, the second son of King Trisong Deutsen. In 1364 he revealed the Lama Gongdu cycle of teachings, his most important terma. Sangye Lingpa is also counted among the Five Terton Kings. In recent times these two great masters were reborn as Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Terchen Chokgyur Lingpa.
Lastly, Dakini Teachings finishes with a chapter by the terton Guru Dorje Lingpa containing the last words of Padmasambhava.
I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the preparation of this book: His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Venerable Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche for the directions and blessings, Marcia Binder Schmidt for rechecking the translation and overseeing the work at all stages, Mim Coulstock for editing and Phinjo Sherpa for word-processing assistance.
This book contains some of the essence of Padmakara's oral instructions, his advice on general Dharma practice, on how to behave and relate to life in a personal and realistic way. I am delighted that these precious teachings now appear in the English language. Although our translation may not be perfect in scholarship and literary eloquence, I believe that the link between Guru Rinpoche's blessings and the reader's openness and sincerity will make up for these shortcomings. Reading or listening to someone else read the Dakini Teachings will then be close to being in the presence of Guru Rinpoche. Just as these teachings have touched me, may they touch the hearts of many other people and be a continual source of inspiration.
Erik Pema Kunsang
Asura Cave, 1989