Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche

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Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche


An Interview about the former incarnations

In September 2000 Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche visited Australia. Rinpoche is the seventh incarnation of Namkhai Nyingpo, who was one of the close heart sons of Guru Padmasambhava. Rinpoche was kind enough to grant the Gentle Voice an interview at Vajradhara Gonpa.

Rinpoche, many of our readers haven't met you yet. So could you please say something about yourself for their benefit?

The first Namkhai Nyingpo was one of the 25 close disciples of Guru Rinpoche. He gained complete realisation through the practice of Yangdak Heruka and was then able to exhibit many miracles like riding on the rays of the sun. It is said that he was able to behold the face, meet in person, Yangdak Heruka, who said that, for the benefit of beings in the future, he should write down the whole sadhana, which he did. It mentions in the life story of the first Namkhai Nyingpo that he wrote down the whole cycle of the Yangdak Heruka teachings.

He also travelled to India and met great teachers like Humkara and received teachings from him. Later, King Trisong Detsen took the first Namkhai Nyingpo as one of his teachers and received the whole cycle of the Yangdak Heruka teachings from him. The first Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche actually lived to the age of 200 years. It is said [he was still alive] during the time of King Langdarma. When his activities for beings in that lifetime had finished, he manifested many emanations. Actually, they weren't given the name Namkhai Nyingpo, but he did manifest many emanations for the sake of beings. There were also the treasure revealers, or tertöns, Jangchub Lingpa and Dawa Gyaltsen, who were his emanations.

It was the Fifth Dalai Lama [1617-1682] who started giving the name Namkhai Nyingpo to the incarnations of Namkhai Nyingpo. The first Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche, who was recognised at the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, lived at Lhodrak Kharchu in southern Tibet. (The first Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche, at the time of Guru Rinpoche, had spent a lot of time at Lhodrak Kharchu, so in that way it was a very special, blessed place of Guru Rinpoche.) The root teacher of the first Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche at the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama was called Rigdzin Pema Thinley. At that time Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche received from him all the different teachings of the Northern Treasures. In Lhodrak Kharchu there was a very small monastery that had belonged to Künkhyen Longchen Rabjam's root guru Kumaradza. Kumaradza was the root teacher of Longchen Rabjam and Kumaradza's root teacher was Melong Dorje. Both of them had stayed a long time in Lhodrak Kharchu and Melong Dorje passed away in Lhodrak Kharchu. Inside this monastery, which had been started by Melong Dorje, there were many books written by Kumaradza. Later, there was one very great Drugpa Kagyu lama called Künkhyen Padma Karpo who stayed there and also restored the small monastery. Later still, the Fifth Dalai Lama restored the monastery and extended it, making it very big. After that, all the different emanations of Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche, from the first to the sixth, stayed there.

It was the sixth Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche who eventually had to flee Tibet and go to Bhutan. He lived there for three years, before passing away. I was actually recognised by His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa as the seventh incarnation of Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche. My own root teacher is His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Almost all of the Nyingma teachings I have received have been from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. It was at His Holiness's request that I established a monastery in central Bhutan, so that's why I'm building the monastery. I have over 200 monks, a philosophy school (shedra), and a meditation retreat place in which the monks are following the tradition of the first Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche at the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, which was to practise the Northern Treasures of the Rigdzin Gödem. Also, at the main monastery they are continuing with those teachings and practising them. I have also established a monastery for yogis in the place where I was born. There are about 25 of them there. It's a retreat monastery; they all remain in retreat, practising the rediscovered treasures of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. There are also a few nuns [at the main monastery] and, although I don't have a nunnery at the moment, I'm hoping in the future to build a nunnery there. I've sent a few of the nuns to India to train and to study and I think they'll be very good. So that's it! That's my own brief story!

Could you tell us about your memories of His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, as he is your root teacher?

I met His Holiness when I was eight in Bumthang. Even though I was a child and didn't know anything very much, I had this great joy at seeing His Holiness and I also had extreme devotion arising in my heart at that time. His Holiness told me that His Holiness the Karmapa had offered me to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, saying that he himself was not able to spend much time with me then and that, as Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was staying there and looking after Bhutan, he should give me all the teachings and empowerments and everything that I needed and look after me. So because of the Karmapa's request, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche took me under his wing.

At the time when I was quite young, Khamtrul Rinpoche was giving the empowerment and the oral transmission of The Precious Vajra Garland, teachings of the Drugpa Kagyu lineage, to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. I was present and received it also. At that time, without even my requesting it, His Holiness gave me, by myself, the complete teachings, empowerments and oral transmissions of the Longchen Nyingthik. At the time I took all these teachings and actually felt overwhelmed that His Holiness would give me all these without my asking. At the end of all the teachings and empowerments he also gave me all the books of the teachings and pictures of Jigme Lingpa and Longchenpa. He said, 'We're in the ris-med or impartial lineage of the Khyentse and Kongtrul lineages, so you should receive as many teachings as you can from all teachers. Whoever you can receive teachings from of the Sakya, Nyingma, Kagyu and other lineages, you should.' At that time Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche said that whatever empowerments and oral transmissions he had, he would bestow on me.

When I was very young, only about 10 years old, I didn't really know so much because I hadn't really studied so much at that time. But when I would take teachings from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Rinpoche's speech was just completely unobstructed. It just flowed out. Whenever he gave teachings, they would just flow out. And when I saw that I was quite awe-struck, and I thought that, other than Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, there is no other Guru Rinpoche! He is Guru Rinpoche! I felt so fortunate at that time to be there, so I rejoiced in the fact that I had the fortune to able to be there. To find such a teacher as this nowadays is very difficult. That's what I feel.

What advice would Rinpoche give to lay practitioners like us, particularly in a degenerate time like this?

The main thing is to keep pure mind, to have a good heart. If you have a good heart, then everything else, like your body, speech and what you do, will turn out fine. The essence of all the teachings of the Buddha is actually to have a good mind, to work on transforming your mind so that you have a good mind, a pure mind. Then, also, the best thing is if you can look inward, not look out at other people's faults, but see what you yourself are doing.

Would you like to say anything else in conclusion, Rinpoche?

I've seen that the people here have devotion and they're quite open, very relaxed and also quite peaceful. And I think that here, Vajradhara Gonpa, is really special. So this is perhaps [due to] the prophecy of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, that this place should be established here. When I see it, I think that it is very similar to Samye Chimphu, the caves above the monastery of Samye, because it's like an open lotus and [the gonpa] is on the pollen bed in the middle of an open lotus. This is what I feel when I see it. It's really very special, because the lotus is a symbol of the Padma family of Guru Rinpoche, and Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche has given you all the teachings of Guru Rinpoche to practise. So it makes a very good connection for all of you.

The Gentle Voice would like to thank Ani Lodro Palmo for translating this interview and Douglas Mills for his help in researching some names.

If you would like to make a donation to Namkhai Nyingpo Rinpoche and his monastery and nunnery, please write to Ani Tenzin Wangmo, P.O. Box 83, Ainslie, ACT, 2602, Australia, or e-mail her at tenzin@webone.com.au.

reproduced from Gentle Voice website