Chokling Ngedon Drubpe Dorje
mchog gling nges don grub pa'i rdo rje
Ngedon Drubpey Dorje, the second Chokling of Neten (1873?-1927)
- as told by Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche
- as told by Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche
The tulku, born in the Kyasu family, was found and given the name Ngedon Drubpey Dorje. Taken to Neten monastery, from an early age he was very wonderful, displaying many miracles. He refused to listen to anyone, so no one could give him orders. Sometimes he hung his clothes on the rays of the sun. When his tutor taught him reading, he would neither learn nor study, only play. His tutor often beat him, yet he was never especially afraid. Even though the tutor locked him in a room, he could still be seen playing outside.
One day Neten Chokling was playing on the roof of the house and the disciplinarian scolded him, threatening to spank him. Trying to escape, he jumped from the roof of the three-story building, but landed safely on the ground. When the tutor came down to get him, he leapt up on the roof again. But as he still could not read, the tutor beat him. One day Wangchok Dorje told the tutor, “You must not beat him, in our family line it is impossible not to know how to read. If he cannot learn, it must be his karma.” When Neten Chokling was older, he learned reading even without being taught. Ngedon Drubpey Dorje went to Derge and remained for seven years with Jamyang Khyentse and Jamgon Kongtrul receiving teachings and oral instructions. The last time Jamgon Kongtrul passed on the transmission of Rinchen Terdzo, Neten Chokling was the master of ceremonies. He then went to the seat of Neten in Kham.
Ngedon Drubpey Dorje spent long periods of time in retreat. A tantric lay practitioner, his main consort was Kunsang Chodron. He had many other consorts but not a single son. One or two women came, claiming that he was the father of their children, but the children then died immediately. When asked about this he replied, “They were not my sons, so Ekajati must have become displeased.” Neten Chokling’s conduct was extremely crude, like that of an Indian mahasiddha. He drank a lot of wine and took lots of snuff. When people came to see him he would send for women and wine. Having higher perceptions, he could immediately reveal his visitors’ thoughts and he would expose any hidden faults right away. When great lamas or dignitaries came to visit him, the servant boys would be ordered to come in naked while bringing tea and in addition to fart loudly.
Ngedon Drubpey Dorje perfected all the Maha Ati practices and his body barely cast a shadow. Khenpo Ngakchung later met him and said, “On this side of the Ganges, no practitioner has higher realization.” Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro also traveled to Neten and received the Dzogchen Desum from this Chokling, who was his root teacher. One day Chokyi Lodro told Chokling, “People say that you can read very fast. I would like to test that.” Khyentse then brought the Kalachakra Tantra volume from the Kangyur and asked him to read it. Chokling answered, “I can’t see anything, I can’t read.” Dzongsar Khyentse pleaded, “At least read a little bit!” Chokling then began to spell his way through the text, one letter at a time. Khyentse demanded, “Please read properly!” Chokling replied, “If you can’t allow me to just sit peacefully then I guess I must read, but first I need some snuff.” He took a big wad of snuff, cleaned his fingers on a cloth and began to read the Kalachakra text from beginning to end with amazing speed. He declared, “I can see both sides at once, but my tongue can recite only what is written on the front!”
Ngedon Drubpey Dorje gave the Rinchen Terdzo transmission to his disciples three times. He passed on the Chokling Tersar teachings four times and Nyingtig Yabshi seven times. He had many amazing disciples and he also displayed many miracles. One day while he was performing a tantric dance, lightning struck his head, but, though the stones beneath his feet shattered, he neither flinched nor interrupted the ritual.
Neten Chokling enjoyed playing dangerous games. In the area of our home was a big river. One day he wanted to cross the stream in a boat. Once in the boat, he took the oars and threw them both over-board in midstream. As the current swept the boat downstream, all his attendants were frightened and closed their eyes while Chokling simply roared with laughter. Many people lived along the river and they all cried out, “Our lama is being carried away by the river!” They ran along the banks, but the river was wide and there was nothing they could do. Finally the boat approached some rapids. Just before entering them, Chokling touched a big rock with his hand and said to Genyen Borang, a naga living in the river, “That’s enough now!” The boat immediately began moving upstream, his hand leaving a deep imprint on the rock. Though no one can reach it, the mark can be seen through binoculars. Neten Chokling built a small house above Neten monastery where he spent most of his time sitting calmly with wide open eyes. Sometimes he would suddenly start laughing. Asked why, he would reply, that at such and such a place, so and so was doing something funny. At the age of 46, he went to Riwoche Monastery. Before leaving Neten, Chokling told everyone, “I will not come back. If you want to see me, you will have to come to me.” He sent for his consort and girlfriends, gave them advice and presented them with gifts. “In this life we will not meet again,” he said, “but at the moment you die, I will come to welcome you.”
Dressing up in his finest clothes, he asked the richest of his monks to accompany him and they rode off on horseback wearing splendid robes. At Riwoche monastery, he began the drubchen of the Sabdun Phurba in the Taklung Kagyu wing of the monastery. From time to time during the drubchen, he fell ill. A doctor gave him medicine, but he did not eat it. Sometimes when he did take the medicine, he emitted it again through the tips of his fingers. At the conclusion of the drubchen he said, “We return to Neten Monastery tomorrow.” Having gone only a short way, they set up camp and, not the least depressed, Chokling said, “Tonight we shall pitch our tents below and not above the road. We shall sleep with our heads facing down and not up valley, because tonight I’m going to die. My body won’t remain in the meditation posture. Bind a rope tightly around its neck, put it in a sack and take it directly to Neten Monastery. My tulku will be immediately reborn in Derge.”
All of the accompanying monks were young, no older than twenty-five, some thought, “Maybe he will indeed pass away, he has great foreknowledge.” Others thought, “Perhaps he is not dying, but simply fooling us. Today he rode on horseback and sang many songs.” That night, however, he died. The oldest monks said, “He might have really passed away. We should check by holding a hair under his nose.” They did, and the hair did not move. This happened on the third day of the fifth month. All the young monks cried because he had died. Some said, “Don’t cry, our lama is not like other lamas. We should do as he said.” Tying a rope around his neck, they put him in a sack and returned the body to Neten.
Many miraculous signs occurred that night. The people at Riwoche said, “Last night there were many signs. Chokling must have passed away. We should go and see.” They went, but before dawn Chokling’s monks had already left. The body was cremated at Neten, many relic pills were found in the ashes. The heart did not burn but stayed red and intact. These relics were placed in a stupa. When the Chinese destroyed the stupa, one monk took the heart. A few years ago the monk gave it to me, but I later lost it.
This was the life story of Neten Chokling, Ngedon Drubpey Dorje, who also composed many written works and instructions.