Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
Biography of the Very Venerable 7th Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
The basis from which the successive incarnations of Mingyur Rinpoche have emanated is Vajrapani, the Lord of Secrets, the embodiment of the power, strength, and ability of all buddhas in the pure realm of Changlochen. In a previous lifetime, Mingyur Rinpoche was the noble being Niruddha, who among all the disciples of Buddha Shakyamuni demonstrated the great miraculous powers at the Vajra Throne of Bodh Gaya. In the snowy ranges of Tibet, he was reborn in the eighth century C.E. as Prince Mutri Tsenpo (the eldest son of King Trisong Deutsen), one of the twenty-five disciples of Guru Padmasambhava. The prince's successive incarnations appeared in Tibet to spread the Buddha teachings as emissaries of Padmasambhava.
Among these were five treasure revealers (tertöns) with the title Lingpa, whose natures were those of the five buddha families. The great Rigdzin Gökyi Demtruchen (1337-1409) was a regent of Padmasambhava who appeared in the central part of Tibet. Terchen Dorje Lingpa (1346-1405) was associated with the east, Pema Lingpa (1450-1521) with the west, and Shikpo Lingpa (1524-1583) with the intermediate directions. Mingyur Rinpoche's previous incarnations also included the great Drigung tertön Rinchen Phuntsok (1509-1557), Rigdzin Jatsön Nyingpo (1585-1656), Namchö Mingyur Dorje (1645-1667), and twenty-one major tertöns with the name Nuden, among whom was the seventeenth-century incarnation Yongey Mingyur Dorje.
Born in the Lhatok region of Kham, in his early years Yongey Mingyur Dorje had visions of Padmasambhava, Karma Pakshi, Hayagriva, Vajravarahi, and Mahakala. He composed a guru sadhana for Karma Pakshi as a "mind treasure" (gongter) that he received in a pure vision. The tenth Karmapa, Chöying Dorje (1604-1674), gave him the name Rigdzin Mingyur Dorje Drakpo Nuden Tsal. Yongey Mingyur Dorje also became a learned and highly accomplished master through studying the sutras, tantras, and general sciences.
On one occasion, the Kagyü lineage was threatened by an imminent invasion of Tibet, as well as by other obstacles on several levels-outer, inner, and secret. In accordance with Guru Rinpoche's prophecies, Yongey Mingyur Dorje revealed a complete cycle of teachings focusing on Guru Dorje Drollo; he then offered these teachings in secret to Karmapa Chöying Dorje. That great lord himself practiced the stages of approach, accomplishment, and enactment focusing on Dorje Drollo for nine months; by doing so, the Karmapa overcame the unfavorable circumstances and obstacles, and turned back the invading forces. He thus caused the Kagyü teachings to shine like the rising sun.
In the later part of his life, Yongey Mingyur Dorje followed the yogic lifestyle of a mahasiddha. He subjugated and brought to the path of liberation many beings who violated samaya or who embodied evil influences and obstructing forces, and who harmed the Buddhadharma and beings. In particular, he bound under oath the spirits known as the "nine demon brothers" and their retinues-evil forces that were wreaking disaster on the world. In these ways, Yongey Mingyur Dorje brought immense benefit to the Buddhadharma and beings.
Yongey Mingyur Dorje's three main termas were the cycles of Guru Dorje Drollo, Shitro Padma Vajra, and the longevity sadhana Tsedrub Tabshe Khajor; these cycles include many subsidiary activity practices and other methods. A great number of noble lamas, tulkus, and sangha members of all the schools of Tibetan Buddhism received his terma teachings, either directly from Yongey Mingyur Dorje or indirectly from one of his students. The primary recipients of these teachings - the sublime eighth Tai Situ, Kunkhyen Chökyi Jungne (1699-1774), and Tertön Könchok Dorje - were prophesied in Yongey Mingyur Dorje's own termas. To quote from the prophecies found in his termas:
In the Uta valley, Tai Situ will wield the vajra sword of copper in the sky.
In a future time of strife, when the five kinds of degeneration are rampant,
first entrust this to your spiritual heir Amita,
and then soon after to the one called Parni.
Entrust it without keeping it secret, and the dispute over the ruler will subside.
The text continues to describes the recipient of the teachings:
You are an emanation of Lord of Secrets.
I am the buddhas of the three times, as well as Shakyamuni,
who protects the beings of the dark age with the light rays of his compassion.
Never missing the right time, through the power of true aspirations
the Guru will speak to you in lifetime after lifetime.
Pray and do not hold back your faith and devotion.
Keep this in your heart, my worthy noble son.
Strong is your samaya, O princely ruler.
You will serve the Buddhadharma greatly.
In this way, Yongey Mingyur Dorje's activity to benefit beings was truly in accordance with the predictions of the master of Uddiyana.
The second Yongey Mingyur Dorje incarnation was born into the Batok family in the Lhatok region of Tibet. He was known as "Three-Eyed Yongey" and was an extraordinary individual who had three eyes and the signs of the five buddha families on his body. It was as if an emanation of Guru Dorje Drollo had appeared in human form. Through his three qualities of being learned, virtuous, and noble-minded, the second Mingyur Dorje benefited the Buddhadharma and beings enormously. The third incarnation was also born into the Batok family and was known as Rimö Mingyur Dorje. The fourth incarnation was born into the Lhalung family of Derge in eastern Tibet, and was known as Tragyen Mingyur Dorje. The fifth incarnation was born into the Shakha family of in Derge, and was known as Shakha Mingyur Dorje. The sixth incarnation was born into the Neyra family of Meshö in the Derge region, and was known as Neyra Mingyur Dorje. All these incarnations studied, reflected upon, and practiced the sutras, tantras, and general sciences, so that they discovered pure wisdom for themselves and thus attained the dharmakaya throne of the state beyond meditation. Through the three qualities of wisdom, compassion, and capability, they accomplished enormous benefit for the Buddhadharma and beings.
Mingyur Rinpoche (the present incarnation of Yongey Mingyur Dorje) is the seventh in this line of incarnations and was born in 1976. His father was the eminent master Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche from the divine Tsangsar bloodline of Nangchen. His mother was Sönam Chödrön, a descendant of the two Tibetan kings Songtsen Gampo and Trisong Deutsen.
Before Mingyur Rinpoche was born, his father Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche dreamt that a lama of majestic presence, dressed in the white robes of a lay tantric master, appeared to him and said, "I am Yongey Mingyur Dorje. I have come to ask for lodging in your home." One month before Mingyur Rinpoche's birth, the moon was seen to be connected to the front and roof of the house by a white beam of light; this happened so many times that the local people were amazed and commented on it.
His father gave Mingyur Rinpoche the name Lhundrup Dorje. The sixteenth Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpai Dorje, identified him as being the authentic incarnation of the previous Yongey Mingyur Dorje and bestowed upon him the name Karma Gyurme Tendzin Chökyi Dorje.
H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche recognized Mingyur Rinpoche as an incarnation of Kangyur Rinpoche. Kangyur Rinpoche was a terton, scholar and realized yogi. After he fled Tibet he lived in Darjeeling India and taught many western students in the 60's and early 70's.
Mingyur Rinpoche mastered reading and writing at the age of six. At about that time, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche told Mingyur Rinpoche's grandfather, Lama Tashi Dorje, and his parents that the child was not only the incarnation of Mingyur Dorje (as the Karmapa had said), but also the rebirth of the tertön Kangyur Rinpoche, Longchen Yeshe Dorje. The previous Mingyur Rinpoche and the former Kangyur Rinpoche were both emanations from the same basis--Vajrapani--and thus these two lamas had now incarnated in this single form. The children and students of the previous Kangyur Rinpoche trusted this to be true.
In 1984, at the age of nine (according to the Tibetan way of counting), Mingyur Rinpoche moved to the hermitage of Nagi Gompa to study with his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. There, being guided through personal experience for about two and half years, he studied such Mahamudra teachings as the Four Dharmas of the peerless Gampopa, as well as instructions on the trekchö and tögal methods of the Dzogchen approach. Even though a given teaching may have been quite short, Mingyur Rinpoche trained by practicing each point for several days.
At the age of eleven, Mingyur Rinpoche was prompted by Tai Situ Rinpoche to come to Sherab Ling, the second Palpung and seat of the Tai Situpas in exile. There Mingyur Rinpoche studied with the retreat master, Lama Tsultrim, learning the daily rituals of the Karma Kamtsang school and the tantras according to the tradition of Marpa. He also studied drama thoroughly and with great diligence. When he was twelve years old, Mingyur Rinpoche was formally enthroned by H. E. Tai Situ Rinpoche at Sherab Ling.
In 1988, the first retreat was about to begin at Tendzin Gephel Ling, the retreat center of Sherab Ling. Although Mingyur Rinpoche was only thirteen at that time, he expressed his desire and determination to enter the retreat, and Tai Situ Rinpoche gladly gave his approval. Mingyur Rinpoche practiced the pith instructions of the Ocean of Kagyu Siddhas, including the preliminary practices; the development stage for such deities as Jinasagara, Chakrasamvara, and Vajravarahi; and the completion stage, which involves the path of means (the Six Doctrines of Naropa) and the path of liberation (the profound practice of Mahamudra). He practiced with tremendous perseverance day and night, which resulted in him gaining an extraordinary level of experience and realization.
When he was seventeen, Mingyur Rinpoche completed his retreat in the first Tibetan month of that year. He was appointed by H. E. Tai Situ Rinpoche to the position of retreat master for the second retreat, which included fifteen monks and thirteen nuns, who entered their respective retreat centres. Mingyur Rinpoche also received the transmissions of the Chokling Tersar cycles from his father Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and those of the Dam-ngak Dzö collection from Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.
At the end of his nineteenth year, Mingyur Rinpoche enrolled at Dzongsar Monastic College. At Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche's suggestion and with H. E. Tai Situ Rinpoche's blessing, he studied with the venerable Khenpo Kunga Wangchuk, learning such texts as the Abhisamayalamkara and Prajnaparamita.
In his twentieth year, Mingyur Rinpoche was appointed by H. E. Tai Situ Rinpoche to be his representative at the monastic seat of Sherab Ling, and in that year Mingyur Rinpoche became the main person responsible for Sherab Ling. During his tenure, he helped to establish a new monastic college at Sherab Ling, working as the assistant khenpo in the college while simultaneously carrying out his duties as the retreat master for the third retreat of another thirty or so monks and nuns. He performed these duties from the age of twenty-one to twenty-five, and often remained in retreat for one to three months at a time. As H. E. Tai Situ Rinpoche was unable to visit India for some time, Mingyur Rinpoche continued supervising all the affairs of the monastic college and retreat center of Sherab Ling, and gave guidance and advice on the ongoing work at the new Palpung Monastery.
In his twenty-third year, Mingyur Rinpoche took his full monastic ordination from H. E. Tai Situ Rinpoche. For a total of one hundred days over the next several years, the late Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche passed on to Mingyur Rinpoche the "oral lineage" (nyengyü) of trekchö and tögal -- a lineage that bears the seal of secrecy and is passed on to only one person at a time. Each day without break, there was one teaching session, after which Mingyur Rinpoche practiced on the meaning of that teaching. In this way, he fully received the pith instructions known as the "great guidance through personal experience" (nyongtri chenmo).
From 1993 to 1998, Mingyur Rinpoche studied with great diligence, mastering the five traditional subjects of the authoritative scriptures -- Madhyamaka, Prajnaparamita, Abhidharma, Pramana, and Vinaya -- as well as their subsidiary topics. Moreover, although he is now extremely learned, he continues his personal studies and practice and also teaches, writes, and engages in debate to benefit others.
Rinpoche is the youngest of six brothers, who are all tulkus in their own right. The eldest is Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, a Kagyu master who is the abbot of Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery in Boudhanath, Nepal. The second brother is Chokling Rinpoche, a Nyingmapa master who lives in Boudhanath, Nepal and is the father of the present incarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Tenpa, the third brother, is the General Secretary to Tenga Rinpoche. The fourth brother Orgyen Jigme has chosen not to follow the path of a tulku, although he was formally recognized. The fifth brother is Tsoknyi Rinpoche, who is a Drukpa Kagyu master and has a monastery in Swayambhunath, Nepal. He teaches throughout the world and is the closest to Mingyur Rinpoche.
Originally translated by Erik Pema Kunsang
source: Official Website