Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje
(1800 – 1866)
DO KHYENTSE Yeshe Dorje was the mind incarnation of Jigme Lingpa. He demonstrated the power of his enlightened mind in the form of amazing miracles, and in this respect he was the greatest master of the Tibetan tantric Buddhist tradition during the last many centuries.
He was conceived by a nonhuman father, born with miraculous signs, started speaking and showing power in his infancy, receiving blessings and teachings from Buddhas and masters in pure visions, discovering many hidden objects and teachings as ter, awakening realization in many disciples, propagating esoteric Dharma tirelessly, and guiding many human and nonhuman beings into Dharma. He was protected and supervised by nonhuman presences, vanished with his body for days to visit pure lands, traveled with his mind for days to pure lands, brought many dead or killed beings back to life, and left imprints of his body on numerous rocks as if on mud.
Do (mDo) Khyentse was also known as Yeshe Dorje, Rigdzin Jalü Dorje, and Trakthung Lekyi Pawo. He was born in and belonged to a Golok clan, but he lived most of the latter part of his life around Tartsedo (Dar rTse mDo, now known as Kanding), so he became known as Khyentse of Do (mDo). Khyentse, meaning “the One with Omniscience and Compassion,” was one of the names of Jigme Lingpa, Do Khyentse’s previous incarnation.
While his parents were in Lhasa on pilgrimage, at the Machik Pal- lha shrine two women led his mother through a wall, which she perceived as a door, and she entered a rich and beautiful palace. After experiencing an intimacy with the youthful noble person of the palace, she was brought back by the same women and found herself at the same shrine. Her husband and others had been searching for her for three days. That young man was Nyenchen Thanglha (the divine presence at Thanglha mountain range of Tibet), one of the most important land protectors of Tibet.
Soon, Do Khyentse’s mother became a medium, and ceaseless phenomena of lights, visions, voices, and messages were witnessed by all members of the family. Do Khyentse’s parents and friends were happy but frightened and confused. They hoped for the blessing of a Buddha manifestation and feared being haunted by a harmful demonic force.
Do Khyentse was born on the fifteenth day of the tenth month of the Iron Monkey year of the thirteenth Rabjung (1800) at Kongser Khado in the Ma Valley, a vast and beautiful field where the Machu (Hwang, or Yellow) River flows by. His adoptive father was Sönam Phen of the Chökor tribal group of the Golok Akyong clan, and his mother was Tsewang Men of the Dawa clan.
Immediately after his birth, which took place in the early morning of a full-moon day, Do Khyentse sat in the meditative posture and, touching the sunbeams entering the tent, he chanted the Sanskrit alphabet.
Three days after his birth, he vanished from the lap of his mother, but on the third day he reappeared sitting on her pillow. During that period, as he wrote later, a red woman took him to a pure land. In a crystal-like palace, many lamas and ḍākinīs purified him by washing him with pure water from a crystal vase. They gave him blessings and prophecies. Thereafter, he always kept seeing around himself beams of light and circles of light with images of Buddhas in them. He always felt that there were a couple of children with him to play with.
One day, standing up with the support of the hands of the invisible children, he looked through the sky and saw Zangdok Palri, the pure land of Guru Rinpoche. In the pure land Guru Rinpoche and the assembly of knowledge-holders and ḍākinīs were enjoying a feast offering (Tshogs) ceremony. Seeing this, his mind was filled with devotion and his eyes were filled with tears. At that moment his mother saw him and exclaimed loudly, “Baby is standing!” That sound woke him up from his experience, and he fell to the ground. After that he became a little bit more like a normal baby.
Whenever his nomadic parents moved around to different campsites, he would see amazing forms of beings who saw him off with sadness and others who welcomed him to their new places with great joy and gaiety. He was always guarded by dharmapālas, who cleaned, fed, and blessed him.
One day he saw a tantric yogī who said he was Nyang Nyima Özer (1124–1192) and who told him to search for Lama Sönam Chōden, who was Sangye Lingpa (1340–1396) returned to the human world. After that, he started to demand that his parents take him to Lama Sönam Chöden, saying that otherwise he would die. But no one knew who the lama was.
The first Dodrupchen was visiting a place nearby, and Do Khyentse’s father told him stories about his son and asked him, “Do you know who Lama Sönam Chöden is?” Dodrupchen stared into the sky for a while and then, folding his hands at his heart in the gesture of devotion, said, “Yes, I know him well. He is a Dharma friend of mine. Anyhow, I will be coming to see your son.”
On his arrival, Dodrupchen asked the baby, “Do you know me?” Do Khyentse, a little over a year old, said, “Yes, you are Sönam Chöden. I know you. Have you deserted me?” Dodrupchen picked up the baby in his arms and with tears said, “Yes, you are right. I can understand why you feel that way. But until now I couldn’t find you.
Now I will take care of you.” Do Khyentse later wrote that he saw Dodrupchen in the form of Guru Rinpoche. Dodrupchen said the necessary prayers and gave blessings to the child, and told the parents, “Sönam Chöden was my name, but with the exception of one lama no one knew it. Now you all should come to my place; otherwise your son might not survive.”
According to Jigme Lingpa’s autobiography, at the time of Dodrupchen’s departure from Jigme Lingpa, Dodrupchen asked him to take rebirth in his region so they could be together. So there was an obligation to be fulfilled by Dodrupchen; besides, Do Khyentse was his teacher’s rebirth.
So Do Khyentse’s parents, against the arguments of their irreligious relatives, took him to the Shukchen Tago Gompa of Dodrupchen. Do Khyentse kept seeing Dodrupchen in various forms in the midst of different kinds of beings and mysteries, and he only realized later that these were not normal perceptions. Later, Do Khyentse, his sister, and their parents followed Dodrupchen when he traveled to Dzogchen Monastery and Dege Palace.
His sister, Ḍākinī Losal Dölma (1802–1861), was a Tārā in human form, a great master and adept. From childhood till her death, she dedicated her life to Do Khyentse as his close disciple, friend, and guide.
While he was staying near Dzogchen Monastery, a friend told him, “That is the way to go to Lhasa.” That phrase awakened in him a feeling of great sadness, and then the memories of Tsering Jong and Chimphu flashed into his mind. During the night, he dreamed of the protector of Samye Chimphu, a white man riding a white horse, who requested him to return to Central Tibet to be at his hermitage with his wife, son, and disciples.
From Dodrupchen, along with the third Zhechen Rabjam, the first Kathok Situ, and about a hundred people, he received the textual transmissions and empowerments of the Nyingthig Yabzhi, Dzödün, Longchen Nyingthig, and Jigme Lingpa’s writings.
Although Dodrupchen had recognized him as the reincarnation of Jigme Lingpa, this was kept secret, for it was proper to have the official approval from Central Tibet, from the seat and family of Jigme Lingpa.
Then the confirmation of Do Khyentse’s recognition as the tülku of Jigme Lingpa by Sakya Kongma Wangdüd Nyingpo and the Drikung tülkus arrived with people who came to take him to Drikung. Sakya Kongma was a disciple of Jigme Lingpa, and the two heads of Drikung were the sons of Jigme Lingpa and his chief disciple, Kong- nyön. Then, in the presence of Dodrupchen, the queen regent, and the crown prince of Dege, with the representatives of Kathok, Dzogchen, Zhechen, and Drikung, Do Khyentse passed his formal tests by recognizing religious objects that had belonged to Jigme Lingpa. Everyone was filled with joy and devotion. Then in Lhalung Khuk in Dege, an elaborate enthronement ceremony was performed under the patronage of the Dege Palace and the monasteries.
The Dege Palace made all the necessary arrangements for his long trip to Central Tibet. At the time of departure, Do Khyentse was so sad to leave Dodrupchen that it seemed as if his heart were splitting, and he kept clutching Dodrupchen with both his tiny hands. Jigme Changchup, a nephew of Dodrupchen, had to take him away by force.
Do Khyentse and his parents and sister arrived with a big party at Yang-ri Gar in Drikung after a journey of many months. He was received by the two heads of the Drikung lineage, Zhaptrung Tendzin Pema Gyaltsen (1770–1826), a son of Kong-nyön, and Gyalse Nyinche Özer (or Chökyi Gyaltsen, 1793–?), the son of Jigme Lingpa. There he was enthroned in an elaborate ceremony. Then he made Photrang Dzongsar of Drikung his main residence. Gyalyum Drolkar and Özer Thaye, the consort and nephew of Jigme Lingpa, came to see him from Tsering Jong. After some time, his parents and sister left for Golok.
While he was learning to read books, he was able to memorize a page a day, which is good. But he was able to repeat all the oral teachings given by a scholar, which is exceptional. The scholar said, “Do Khyentse will become a person who is learned in the meaning rather than in the words.” First Changchup, a nephew of Dodrupchen, stayed as his tutor, and then Dodrupchen sent one Nyima Gyaltsen to relieve Changchup.
He received many transmissions from Zhaptrung, Gyalse, and Gyaltsap of Tsurphu and experienced many visions.
In 1810, passing through Samye, Chimphu, Densathil, Zang-ri Kharmar, and Yarlung, he visited Tsering Jong, and he returned to Drikung Dzongsar through Palri, Sheltrak, and Yama Lung. “In the cave of Sheltrak,” he wrote, “from the heart of Guru Rinpoche’s ‘Like Me’ image, a beam of light came and touched my heart. I felt the experience of remaining for a while in the primordially pure intrinsic awareness, free from expressions. But at that time I wasn’t aware of what it actually was.” At Yamalung he saw Longchen Rölpatsal, one of the chief disciples of Jigme Lingpa and received long-life empowerment.
In 1811, his father and others returned from Golok with a message from Dodrupchen asking Do Khyentse to visit him. Do Khyentse went to Lhasa and received permission from the government to return to Kham. He was given the hat and dress of a Khenpo and was recognized as such by Temo Thupten Jigme (d. 1819), the new regent of Tibet.
In 1812, he had a reunion with his mother and sister on the way to Yarlung Pemakö, to which he then returned.
In 1813, with the fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche, the third Pönlop, and about sixty disciples, he received Nyingthig Yabzhi, Gyü Chudün, Datnchö Dechen Lamchok, and many other transmissions from Dodrupchen. With Shichen Lama Ogyen Norbu, Repa Tamtsik Dorje, and others he received Gewa Sumkyi Donkhri, Machik Nyen-gyü, and other teachings. With Changlung Palchen Namkha Jigme (aka Trupwang) of Rekong he received Mümpe Naljor Yangti Nagpo Serkyi Druchik, Dzogchen Ati Zabdön, and other transmissions from Dodrupchen.
In 1814, he visited the Dege Palace and conferred the empowerment of Longchen Nyingthig. In Dzachukha he met Gyalwe Nyuku and Gilung Lama Jigme Ngotsar, both of whom were chief disciples of Jigme Lingpa. On his return to Yarlung, he received teachings on Yöuten Dzö, Takpö Thargyen, and Yeshe Lama from Dodrupchen.
In 1815, at the age of sixteen, he was sent by Dodrupchen with about a hundred people to Central Tibet to take offerings to the lamas and monasteries. Instructing him to return in a year, Dodrupchen gave him five major goals to fulfill on this trip: (1) to receive empowerments of Hayagrīva and Long Life from Ra-nyak Gyalse, (2) to make one hundred thousand maṇḍala offerings at Samye, (3) to do a seven-day retreat at Chimphu on the prayer of Guru Rinpoche, (4) to eliminate the stirring up of obstructions at Kordzö Ling at Samye at al costs, and (5) to establish a spiritual relationship with the sacred place of Chakpori.
On the way, Do Khyentse went to see Ra-nyak Gyalse, who was displaying wild behavior. Do Khyentse was then a novice and at first could not appreciate what he was seeing, but as it had been his teacher’s instruction to go to Ra-nyak Gyalse, Do Khyentse asked him for an empowerment of Hayagrīva. Instead, Gyalse pointed a gun at his heart and shot at him. The bullet didn’t hurt him but turned into a Hayagrīva image. When Do Khyentse asked for a Long-Life empowerment, he was given some ashes from Gyalse’s pipe mixed with spit in a cup, which instantly turned into pure nectar.
On their way to Lhasa, one day Do Khyentse took Riktsal and Özer to a notorious nomad camp in the Gegye area to buy meat. A white and a black dog got loose and attacked them, and Do Khyentse cut them in two with his sword. When nomads arrived to fight them for killing their dogs, Do Khyentse placed the upper body of the white dog with the lower body of the black dog, and the upper body of the black dog with lower body of the white dog, and the two animals got up and ran away. The astonished nomads immediately apologized and promised to adhere to proper conduct. After the dogs died, in memory of this miracle their skins were kept at a monastery called Gegye Dzogchen.
At Drikung, Do Khyentse was joyfully reunited with Zhaptrung and Gyalse and received empowerments from them. At Lhasa, Regent Temo was very helpful, and Do Khyentse received transmissions from Longchen Rölpatsal again. He went on pilgrimage to many sacred places and made offerings.
At Samye, in front of the Jowo, he accumulated one hundred thousand maṇḍala offerings. In Parkhang Yuzhal Barwa in the main temple of Samye he prayed one-pointedly for one week on retreat. One night, a frightening yogī suddenly came dancing in and gave him prophecies. Another night, a woman took him upstairs and he saw four Vairochana images sitting back to back. They said in harmony:
By the mysterious play of knowing and unknowing [the reality], Saṃsāra and nirvāṇa are divided back to back.
From the delusions created by discursive thoughts Is established the so-called world of six realms.
In the pure manifestation of the four Buddha bodies,
There is nothing but the pure lands of the three Buddha bodies. .. .
The four images gave him teachings, empowerments, and prophecies. He returned to his bed with great bliss in his body and extraordinary realization in his mind.
At Tragmar Keutsang cave he made one hundred tsok offerings before the “Like Me” image of the Guru. After having dream visions, he woke up and saw the image of the Guru in the form of light emanating luminous rays that filled the whole shrine. Beams of white, red, and blue light touched him. He heard the sound of many voices chanting of The Seven-Line Prayer in high registers, and people who had been sleeping nearby thought that Do Khyentse was singing in the middle of the night.
Then he moved to the lower Sangphuk cave of Chimphu. He intensely experienced the impermanence of life, and, finding no other solution, he concentrated on praying with one-pointed devotion to Guru Rinpoche. One night three fearful ḍākinīs appeared and said, “In the human world, you are defiled by the human womb. By grasping at the ‘self’ of the delusory appearances, ignorance of grasping and grasped have manifested. There is no other way but to separate you from your evil body.” They cut his body into pieces and ate it all, including his consciousness; thus he fell into unconsciousness. When he regained consciousness, he saw the Vajrasattva consorts before him. By the touch of the lights from the Vajrasattva consorts, he felt that he had a body of light. Lamas and ḍākinīs gave him blessings and prophecies of his mind ter discoveries. Then he spent seven nights at Kordzö Ling, the Dharmapala temple at Samye, to practice chö in order to eliminate the shaking up of negative emotions and concepts from the root. The next day, the oracle of Samye, while possessed by the Dharmapāla, came and locked him in the cellar. It was totally dark. He performed a chö practice and meditated as best as he could. He saw various forms and heard sounds threatening him and calling him by name, and it was frightening. He thought, “This is what Dodrupchen, the lord of Dharma, instructed me to do. So for doing this practice, even if I lose my life, there is no fear or regret. If I have no fear of dying, then even if the whole world arises as my enemy, it won’t bother me at all.” Then all the stirrings-up (Slong Tshad) were eased. Soon, the oracle possessed by the Dharmapāla opened the door, brought him out, and paid him respect.
At Tsering Jong, he made offerings before the remains of Jigme Lingpa. He wanted to stay for a while, but it didn’t work out. Then at Palri Monastery, from Tsogyal Tülku he received transmissions of Trölthik and other teachings.
After visiting Mindroling and Dorje Trak monasteries, he went to Chagzam Chuwo Ri and in the sacred cave made tsok offerings. In a dream he saw Thangtong Gyalpo and received blessings, which filled him with the experiences of bliss, clarity, and emptiness. There, Do Khyentse discovered a Guru Rinpoche Kutsap image as a ter, and the protector of the ter asked him not to show it to anybody until he met Dodrupchen.
He made offerings for the Mönlam prayer ceremony at Lhasa and was shown great respect and acknowledgment by the Temo regent.
As Dodrupchen was old and it was very important to receive complete teachings from him, the Drikung tülkus sadly had to agree to let Do Khyentse return to Kham for the time being. When he and his party reached the western part of Kham, they were met by a messenger from Dodrupchen telling them to come faster. Leaving the representatives of Drikung and Dege behind with the main party, Do Khyentse and ten companions rode fast without stopping, except for a day’s rest at Gyalwe Nyuku’s hermitage in Dzachukha.
After a few days, on the tenth day of the seventh month of the Fire Bird year (1816), Do Khyentse found himself in the presence of Dodrupchen in Yarlung Pemakö. Dodrupchen said, “I had many prophetic dreams, and also my health wasn’t good. But all the obstructions to my life have been reversed for a while by the power of Döpa Khamkyi Wangchugma, except that my visions are obscured.” He added, “During the winter you should go to Kathok Monastery to receive some necessary teachings from Getse Mahāpaṇḍita and also Zhingkyong Tülku. I would like to see you complete your necessary studies before I die.” Do Khyentse received more clarifications and instructions on tsalung and Guhyagarbha- tantra teachings.
At Kathok, Do Khyentse received many empowerments, teachings, and trainings from Getse Mahāpaṇḍita. These included the elaborate empowerment of Düpa Do for fifteen days and other kama and terma transmissions. Getse said, “As prophesied by the previous Khyentse [Jigme Lingpa], Kathok Monastery is a lineage holder of the Lougchen Nyingthig teachings. So in future you should serve the Dharma by combining both [the Kathok and Longchen Nyingthig] traditions together.” Do Khyentse also received teachings from Zhingkyong and Moktsa tülkus of Kathok, and Namkha Tsewang Choktrup of Gyarong Monastery.
He received the lung of the Nyingma Gyübum from Jigme Ngotsar of Kilung Monastery, a disciple of Jigme Lingpa. During that transmission, in a dream he received teachings and the entrustment of the Guhyagarbha-tantra from Vimalamitra, and for a month he felt that he remembered all the words and meanings of the tantra.
In 1818, while he was in Dzachukha, he had an experience that a woman with a large retinue led him into a crystal palace where he saw Guru Rinpoche in union with his consort. Do Khyentse received four empowerments from the Guru’s consorts, and then they merged into Do Khyentse. For a while Do Khyentse was absorbed into the ultimate nature free from expressions. When he left the crystal palace, he was met by the protectors of Ling, who also gave him blessings. Then, riding a white horse, he came back to his place and woke up. Gyalwe Nyuku and Lobzang Norbu, who were anxiously waiting, said, “You went to sleep and didn’t wake up for three days. Dzogchen Rinpoche came to say prayers, and he said, ‘There is no problem.’” Intervening, Gyalwe Nyuku said, “Whatever visions you had, please do not tell anybody, including Dzogchen Rinpoche, until the time comes. If you don’t keep the visions secret, there could be many obstructions. If you keep them secret, attainments will come swiftly.” Although Do Khyentse didn’t tell anything, Gyalwe Nyuku knew through his clairvoyance what the visions had been. Do Khyentse discovered the Cycles on Pema Gyalpo as ter.
Do Khyentse spent more time at the palace of Tsewang Dorje Rigdzin, the king of Dege, than was necessary, because his attendants preferred being there than at Dodrupchen’s monastic hermitage, owing to the prosperity, nobility, and power. One day Do Khyentse instructed his sister and an attendant, “There is an old beggar woman in that valley; give her this tsampa, meat, and chang for me.” When they got there, the old woman angrily threw away the tsampa but enjoyed the meat and chang. The sister saw the woman in a light body and smelled a sweet scent from her urine. Wildly scolding her, the woman gave the sister something to drink and sent some dütsi (a blessed medicinal substance) for Do Khyentse with the message: “My dear son, do not stay in this region too long. Here the auspicious causations have become murky.” The next day, they went back to the woman’s place with some more food, but there was not even a trace that anybody had ever stayed at the spot where they had found her the day before.
The king of Dege and Do Khyentse’s attendants became disturbed, fearing that Do Khyentse might become a hermit or a wild yogī. People didn’t have great respect for his enlightened realization and power. They were of the opinion that the way for him to be a great lama was to remain a strictly disciplined monk and a learned scholar.
Do Khyentse bluntly told the court of Dege that he was not going to remain an important lama, so either they must let him become a hermit or they would have to keep him in prison. The king said, “The Sakya Kongma of Central Tibet and Dodrupchen Rinpoche of Kham and many other important divine powers of Tibet agreed that you are the tülku of the Omniscient Khyentse Özer [Jigme Lingpa]. From my late mother’s time, you have been recognized as the preceptor of Dege and the crown ornament of the Nyingma tradition. So how can you leave to be a hermit—and how can I prosecute you for going for Dharma? Now I myself and Dzogchen and Kathok monasteries will send our representative to Dodrupchen to have his opinion. We cannot violate whatever order the lama gives us, nor will you.” Do Khyentse agreed. He and the representatives of Dege, Dzogchen, Kathok, and Drikung traveled to Yarlung to present their case before Dodrupchen.
Dodrupchen didn’t say a word for three days. Then he told Do Khyentse, “People want to see you a monk who upholds the monastic tradition. But from your past activities and the prophecies, I can say that it is not going to happen. For a while you should become a hermit and later a Vajradhara, a master of esoteric discipline. . . .
Some people also want me to tell you to stay as my regent. That would become an obstruction to you, and would be against your wish. At the end of the Dragon year  I am also going to go to my own place [die]. So stay here for the winter and spring to get more clarifications on instructions. At the end of next summer, do whatever you like. [In other words, leave before I die.] Otherwise, [if you don’t leave before I die,] people could blame you for not obeying my wishes.” Do Khyentse could only say yes, as he was so shocked at hearing that Dodrupchen would die soon. Then Dodrupchen conveyed the same decision to the representatives.
The very next day, on the tenth day of the seventh month of the Earth Hare year (1820), after the tsok offering ceremony, Do Khyentse offered Dodrupchen all the possessions he had brought with him. Dodrupchen blessed Do Khyentse’s hair, so that from then on he could keep it long, and also he blessed a new set of white robes and gave it to him, saying, “For two and a half years, wear this costume; then you will discover a new one.” Instantly, Do Khyentse transformed himself into a white-robed tantric.
Then, with the representatives, Do Khyentse went to Dege to convey the decision to the king, who said, “When the Protector Lord Dodrupchen gives such an order, I dare not tell you anything but ‘Please do whatever you wish.’” Do Khyentse sent half the property he possessed to Drikung, and the other half he entrusted to Dege.
Now Do Khyentse returned to Dodrupchen as a humble ascetic with two companions. Dodrupchen was very happy to see him in this form, and he said, “Now you are a hermit. Maintain a low position without any desire for power or fame. Wear patched old robes. Practice as it is said: ‘Give all profit and victory to others. Take all loss and defeat upon yourself.’” During the day he received from Dodrupchen empowerments of Khaudro Yangtig and detailed teachings of Yeshe Lama. At night, in the dream of luminosity, from Longchen Rabjam he received detailed instructions on the meaning of Khandro Yangtig.
Dodrupchen appeared joyful and in good health. Sometimes he would suddenly sing yogic songs. He would describe his various visions. Do Khyentse and others kept seeing his body in various forms, and sometimes there was no body but just his clothes on his seat. Amid these endless wonders, if anyone remembered any question about teachings, he would answer spontaneously without needing to be asked.
On the tenth day of the sixth month of the Iron Dragon year (1821), with great sadness the master and disciple bade goodbye for this lifetime. On the pass of Garlung, Do Khyentse and Palge made a hundred prostrations toward Dodrupchen with prayers. Do Khyentse changed his name to Repa Yongtrak and with a few people went to Thugje Chenpo of Trokyap Province and then to various places in Amdo, including Amchok, Latrang, and Tso Ngönpo and Rekong. Then he sent all his companions home except Lhaksam Rapkar.
In Rekong, he went to a cemetery to practice for three nights and showed signs of success in shaking up emotions and concepts and pacifying them, but then he came down with small pox. He seemed to enter an unconscious state for over two weeks. During that time, he saw different realms of the world. He experienced his body being eaten by wrathful deities to purify the impurities of his physical form. In Zangdok Palri pure land he participated for seven days in the performance of tsok offerings with Guru Rinpoche and many great masters of the past. At the end of the tsok, Guru Rinpoche entrusted to him seven caskets of ter with mind-mandate transmissions and prophecies. Guru Rinpoche said:
Son, after realizing the nontruth of perceptions,
There is little benefit in dwelling in solitude.
When the falsehoods of phenomenal appearances have collapsed into their own place,
And the uncontrolled innate nature of phenomena has been recognized,
Without [falling into] discrimination of the subtle forms of grasping and grasped
And attachment to contaminated virtuous deeds,
Please maintain the strong hold of the vast expanse of primordial purity.
Then he experienced going to see Dodrupchen, who, in the great joy of seeing him again, said, “I will be leaving in the first month of the coming year. I will leave my advice for you with your sister. Now the obstructions of your life are averted.” Do Khyentse saw a white ĀḤ letter at Dodrupchen’s heart. By concentrating his awareness on it, his mind merged into an inexpressible state. Then, when he felt that he was touching his own body, he returned to physical consciousness. His sickness had gone, but it took about a month for him to regain his full strength.
On the thirteenth day of the first month of the Iron Snake year (1821), Do Khyentse saw Dodrupchen in the sky in the midst of lights and rays in an amazing radiating light body clad in lights. Dodrupchen was sitting on a brocadelike blanket held up by four ḍākinīs, and with a most enchanting voice he gave his testament. (For the lines of the testament, see chapter 12.) Beams of light of five colors emanated from the white ĀḤ letter at Dodrupchen’s heart and merged into Do Khyentse. Then from the ĀḤ a second ĀḤ letter came out and merged into the heart of Do Khyentse. For a while, Do Khyentse became unconscious and merged into the experience of vajra waves. When he regained consciousness, the lama had disappeared. For three days he remained in a state in which all the gross and subtle thoughts had dissolved and the intrinsic awareness had spontaneously awakened. After that he felt great sorrow, realizing that Dodrupchen had passed away.
He met Pema Rangtröl, Kyanglung Gönpo Gyal, and Chöying Tobden Doge, disciples of Dodrupchen, and gave them teachings. After many months his sister and others arrived from Yarlung Pemakö with the news of Dodrupchen’s death, and his sister relayed the advice that the lama had left with her for him. He went to Yarlung to pay his respects to the remains of Dodrupchen, but refused to stay as Dodrupchen’s regent.
Around this time he had changed from the white robes of a tantric into layman’s dress. He briefly visited Dege, where everyone was shocked and puzzled by his new outlook. There he met Gyalwe Nyuku, who requested him to wear a tertön’s (or tantric) robe. Do Khyentse answered, “I am neither a tertön nor an observer of monk’s vows, so the proper thing for me is layman’s dress.” Despite this, Dzogchen Rinpoche praised him, and Pönlop dedicated the remainder of his life to extending Do Khyentse’s life. Do Khyentse wandered in the no-man’s-lands of Golok as a hunter and restored to life many killed or dead animals and people.
In 1823, his consort, the daughter of Akyong Lhachen, gave birth amid miraculous signs to a daughter named Khaying Dölma. Khaying Dölma married the king of Trokyap in 1841 but died, childless, in 1855.
Do Khyentse started giving transmissions and teachings of Longchen Nyingthig to his sister and others. He stayed sometimes at Dordzong (rDo rDzong) in Golok. Later he established a gompa of the Longchen Nyingthig tradition, which belonged to the Muk-yang tribal group. Then he taught at many places in Gyalmorong, Dzika, and Ser Valley.
Now his fame as a master reached Dege, and at the insistance of the king he briefly visited Dege again. But Do Khyentse refused to stay as a preceptor because he had been doubted the last time, when he turned up as a layman, and that had damaged the auspicious circumstances. Instead, he offered to stay as a dünhor (council or), which other lamas discouraged, as it was not a proper designation for a great lama.
Do Khyentse went to Dzachukha and suddenly got seriously sick, as had been prophesied earlier. Through the intense prayers of Gyalwe Nyuku, he recovered.
In 1825, accompanied by his sister and others, he went to Ma Valley and discovered the treasures of Ling. Then he went to Phuntsok Dzong, the palace of King Tsewang Lhündrup (d. 1827) of Gyarong, and gave teachings. After that he went to the pilgrimage place Kaukong Senge Yongdzong and gave teachings to King Namkha Lhündrup of Trokyap in Gyarong. They had an excellent master-disciple relationship and built a temple, which later became known as Gomsar (New Gompa).
One day, in the Murdo Mountains of Gyarong, Do Khyentse took his son Raltri to a cave in a steep mountain and asked him to wait for him. Do Khyentse returned to their camp while Raltri waited in the cave. When it became dark and his father had still not returned, Raltri could hardly move for fear of falling to his death. Suddenly he heard his father calling him to come and saw a carpet of light before him. Without hesitation or doubt, he sat on it and instantly found himself at the camp.
Once Do Khyentse was traveling on a very narrow mountain path in Trakwar in Dzigak of Gyarong. He told Riktsal Thogme, “If you are brave, push me and my horse down!” Riktsal pushed them and they fell into the Gyalmo Ngülchu (Chinese, Dadu) River, hundreds of feet below. Riktsal thought, “Now my lama is dead,” and he jumped after them. The marks of Do Khyentse, his horse, his sword, and Riktsal were imprinted on the rock as if on mud, and they are still visible in winter, when the river is low. Then Do Khyentse asked Riktsal to get on the horse behind him, and they climbed up the steep rock mountain, making marks at every step. Since then, it is said, death by falling ceased to occur on that dangerous path.
In 1829, Do Khyentse’s son Sherap Mebar, a tülku of Dodrupchen, was born, as prophesied by Dodrupchen himself with amazing signs. From childhood he would not eat meat. Unfortunately, he died at the age of fourteen, in 1842. Do Khyentse’s second son, Rikpe Raltri (1830–1874), was a tülku of Gyalse Nyinche (1793–?), the son of Jigme Lingpa, and was the father of Zilnön Gyepa Dorje, the second Do Rinpoche (1890–1953).
In 1831 Do Khyentse was invited by the king of Chakla to Tartsedo and other places of that region. From that time, Do Khyentse mainly stayed in the Tartsedo region, and the king of Chakla became one of his main patrons.
In 1832, in a dream vision he received teachings and prophecies from Machik Labdrön accompanied by five ḍākinīs. Afterward, all obstructions from negative aspiration were pacified, and he began to function as the Lord of Yogīs.
Once, when he was camping in the Zhak-ra Mountains, the king of Chakla came to see him. One day, riding horses and holding butter lamps in their hands, Do Khyentse, the king, and Tongza Özer rode into a lake. When the water reached the horse’s mane, the king grew frightened and turned back. Do Khyentse and Özer disappeared. After a while they both emerged safely. According to Özer, they had gone under water without wetting their clothes or extinguishing the lamps. Then they reached a many-storied house surrounded by three walls with all kinds of animals around it. He stayed outside the house while Do Khyentse was led inside by people in white clothing, and then they led him out again. No one knew what Do Khyentse brought out with him.
One day in the Datha area, two young shepherds saw Do Khyentse and his group traveling by. They wanted to test whether Do Khyentse really had clairvoyance or not. One of the shepherds pretended to be dead, and the other ran to the lama’s party for prayers for the dead. Do Khyentse came to the body and smoked three pipes, putting the ashes on the shepherd’s head. Then he left without saying any prayer. After the party had left, the boy found that his friend actually was dead. He ran after the party and confessed the truth and prayed the lama to revive him. Do Khyentse returned, and saying “Dza,” he made a summoning gesture and left again. Soon the boy regained consciousness and expressed his sorrow over being brought back, as he had been sent to a joyful pure land. Immediately he followed Do Khyentse and later became an accomplished meditator.
Once in the early summer, Do Khyentse was camping overnight at Dora Karmo in Minyak on his way to Tartsedo. He shot a marmot and told Özer to bury the body, which he would need on his way back. In the fall, when they returned to that place, he asked Özer to bring the body without leaving even a hair behind. It had almost disappeared, but Özer collected all the pieces and put them together in front of him. Do Khyentse touched the marmot’s body with his hand, and it ran away squeaking. Özer remarked that he had seen many cases of the dead being brought back to life, but this was such an instance in which an animal had been dead for so long.
One day the Chakla king requested an empowerment. When Özer had finished his preparations, they found that they hadn’t brought the text that was to be recited from their hermitage, which was quite far away. Do Khyentse said, “No problem.” The next day, just before sunrise, people halfway to the hermitage saw him walking by, and at sunrise people saw him at the hermitage. At breakfast time, the palace attendants reported to the king that Do Khyentse had just entered the palace barefoot, at which the king said, “No, he is having breakfast.” But having doubts, the king and attendants rushed into Do Khyentse’s room, and they saw him perspiring, and the text was on the table. Do Khyentse said, “I am tired. I went to get the text!”
Thereafter Do Khyentse established Kyilung Gompa in the Geshe region of Gyarong, gave empowerment of Longchen Nyingthig, and taught ngöndro, tsalung, and Yeshe Lama to about a hundred disciples. Later Kyilung Gompa became the seat of the first Zenkar Rinpoche and one of the main seats of the present Zenkar Rinpoche, Thupten Nyima (b. 1943), the incarnations of Do Khyentse.
Do Khyentse went to meet Gönpo Namgyal (d. 1865), the wicked chieftain of Nyarong, who caused many sufferings to many parts of Kham. One day the chieftain said to Do Khyentse, “You carry a gun —now shoot that crow.” Do Khyentse did so. Then the chieftain said, “You claim to be a compassionate Buddhist, but you are killing animals. How can that be?” Do Khyentse snapped his fingers, and the crow flew away. The chieftain remarked, “What a gun—couldn’t even kill a crow.” Another day, they were riding together in the snow. Do Khyentse’s horse didn’t make any tracks. The chieftain said, “Oh, you have a good horse. Let’s exchange horses.” When they did, again the horse that Do Khyentse was riding didn’t make any tracks, and the chieftain remarked, “You are a good horseman.” Having inspired both admiration and peace in the chieftain’s mind, Do Khyentse was instrumental in getting many prisoners released.
Once when they were staying in the Zhak-ra Lhatse Mountains of Minyak, a wild man (Mi rGod, yeti?) carried Do Khyentse away. He was left in a cave in the middle of a steep rock hill. There he merged into absorption, in which he had a vision of a ḍākinī who gave him teachings, prophecies, and nectar. When he came out of absorption, his sister and others led by a stranger had arrived at the foot of the hill and were shouting his name. It was impossible for them to climb up or for him to climb down. With one-pointed mind his followers prayed to the Buddhas and lamas, and instantly he appeared at the bottom of the rock hill. Then he gave transmissions of Longchen Nyingthig and Khandro Yangtig with amazing signs and visions.
In 1836, he went to Lauthang and gave transmissions of Longchen Nyingthig. Lauthang became one of the seats of Do Khyentse. In the recent past, Lauthang Gompa was the seat of Lauthang Tülku Drachen (d. 1959), a tülku of Dodrupchen.
While they were at Lauthang, Do Khyentse led his son Raltri into an amazing house. Many ḍākinīs served them various kinds of food and showed them an astonishing display of treasures. Do Khyentse gave a phurbu to Raltri, and then they came out of the house. When Raltri looked back, the house was gone, but the phurbu was still with him.
In 1844 Khyentse visited Yarlung Pemakö and gave the Longchen Nyingthig transmissions to Jigme Phüntsok Jungne, the second Dodrupchen. Then he revealed his own ter teachings to the public. They include Yangsang Khadrö Thukthik and Chö Dzinpa Rangtröl.
In 1847 at Lauthang he enthroned Tri-me Trakpa of Yuthang as the tülku of his late son Sherap Mebar, a tülku of Dodrupchen. Tri-me Trakpa, who also refused to eat meat from childhood, later became known popularly as Do (mDo) Rinpoche.
In 1856/57, while he was visiting the Yutse Mountains in Golok, Paltrül Rinpoche came to receive the empowerment of Yumka Dechen Gyalmo. Then, with the second Dodrupchen, the three of them made sang (incense-burning) offerings.
Despite all the evidence, some were skeptical of Do Khyentse’s enlightened power. An uncle of his wouldn’t believe in Do Khyentse’s way of discipline. One day when Do Khyentse shot a marmot, his uncle scolded him, saying, “How can a tülku be killing animals like a sinner?” Then Do Khyentse struck the body with his whip, and the marmot ran away. At that his uncle rebuked him, “Now you have learned magic tricks too!”
In the Yutse Mountains, Do Khyentse enjoyed playing games by day and meditating by night. It is believed that he brought many human and numerous nonhuman beings to the peaceful path of Dharma. At the invitation of the king of Samang of Gyarong, he gave teachings to the king and his subjects. Now he had become the preceptor of all eighteen principalities of Gyarong.
In 1858 he started to write his autobiography at Kaukong Senge Yongdzong in Trokyap, and in 1860 he concluded it while giving Dzogpa Chenpo instructions to the king of Trokyap and others. All experienced high realization and witnessed amazing signs.
While he was at Kaukong, in the early morning of the eighth day of the first month of the Earth Sheep year (1860), he saw Dodrupchen in the form of Milarepa and heard the following:
The views of Madhyamaka, Mahāmudrā, and Dzogpa Chenpo
Are of the nature of the basis, the path, and the result.
Freedom from the elaborations of four extremes
Is called the outer gross Madhyamaka.
That [view] with a sharp knowledge, free from faults,
Wisdom with the spirit of essence,
Which is the Buddha nature, the continuum basis,
Is the subtle inner Madhyamaka.
Having that [view], by relying on skillful means that bring forth the realization, and
Through the trainings of fourfold yogas,
Perfecting the meditationless result
Is the way of proceeding along the path of Mahāmudrā,
The meaning [or the union] of emptiness and clarity, free from grasping, of the mind. . . .
In natural Dzogpa Chenpo,
Recognizing the intrinsic awareness directly
Undoes all the knots of grasping and grasper.
Then, by recognizing images and circles [of lights],
The manifestative power of intrinsic awareness will be perfected as the Sambhogakāya.
When the luminosity of the four visions is perfected,
Phenomena dissolve into the great expanse of the ultimate nature,
And the liberation into the ultimate sphere of the “youthful body in a vase” wil be attained.
Then lights with heat came from the master and entered through Do Khyentse’s head, filling all his body and purifying even his most subtle defilements, and filling him with the wisdom of great bliss.
In 1866 he came back to Tartsedo and gave teachings to people everywhere, even in the streets of the town. Then, on the twentieth day of the second month, sitting in the posture of the Dharmakāya, he dissolved his physical tülku into the ultimate nature. Instantly, various sounds were heard, earthquakes were experienced, and rainbow lights in the shape of stripes, circles, and pillars filled the sky for days. At his cremation, in the ashes his disciples found many ringsels, including one egg-sized ringsel in five colors.
Among his tülkus were Pema Ngödrup Rolwe Dorje (1881– 1943), the first Alak Zenkar of Kyilung Monastery of Gyarong, and Khyentrül Dzamling Wangyal (?–1907), a son of Düdjom Lingpa.
“Masters of Meditation and Miracles: Lives of the great buddhist masters of India and Tibet”, Tulku Thondup