First Dodrupchen Jigme Thrinle Özer
THE First Dodrupchen Rinpoche Jigme Thrinle Özer was the principal doctrine-holder (rTsa Ba’i Ch’os bDag) of the Longchen Nyingthig cycle of teachings.
He was known by many names, including Künzang Zhenphen, Sönam Chöden, Changchup Dorje, and Drubwang Dzogchenpa.
He was born in the upper Do Valley of Golok Province in Eastern Tibet in the Wood Ox year of the twelfth Rabjung (1745). Do Valley is situated in Golok Province on the border of the Amdo and Kham regions. Dodrupchen’s father, Zönkho, was from a warrior clan called Puchung in the Mukpo Dong lineage. His mother, Sönamtso, was from the Nizok (Nubzur) tribe.
His birth was prophesied by Guru Rinpoche:
In the east there will come a person named Özer,
Endowed with strong devotion, extraordinary actions, powerful mind, and full of wisdom.
He will uphold the discovered heart treasure teachings
And propagate them with the support of many fortunate people.
At about three, Dodrupchen started revealing his memories of his past lives. His parents wouldn’t let him repeat them, as they were afraid that he was possessed by a demonic force. At about four or five, now and then, he witnessed amazing lights of Thögal visions, and he would remain absorbed in them with a feeling both of joy and sadness.
At six and seven, he saw and then remembered the sufferings of people from poverty, illness, old age, and death. Because of this, an unbearable sadness occupied his tiny heart, and his little face was always soaked in tears.
At seven, his parents sent him to his uncle, who was a lama, to study Tibetan and scriptures. He was able to read the prayers after he was taught them once, whereas others could learn them only by repeating them many times. Although Dodrupchen took birth as great masters in his past lives, he was not recognized as a tülku in his youth. Thus he was given the chance and challenges of passing through his studies and trainings as an ordinary trainee does in Tibet.
At ten, he revealed some ter teachings, but none survived, as no one thought them of any importance. He had numerous visions and dreams of masters who entrusted teachings and blessings to him and also warned him of any danger that was coming. Still, as his mind was always filled with compassion, when his parents were not noticing, he would cry profusely over the sufferings that people were experiencing and would try to help them, at least by saying prayers for them. He never had ill will toward anybody, even people who were trying to hurt him. He was always frank, bold, and powerful in expressing his thoughts. He was generous and energetic in offering his services to improve others’ lives.
At fourteen, he entered Gochen Monastery of the Palyül lineage and received teachings from Sherap Rinchen until that teacher’s death. Sherap Rinchen was a student of Pema Lhündrup Gyatso (1660–1727), who studied with Künzang Sherap (1636–1699), the founder of the Palyül lineage. Sherap Rinchen gave him the Dharma name Sönam Chöden. He studied and meditated on many teachings, mainly Dzogpa Chenpo and Tsalung, and fulfilled the requirements of various recitations and trainings. However, there was not much progress in his spiritual experience beyond what he already had.
At twenty-one, Dodrupchen left for Central Tibet through Dege with six other monks. On the way he received teachings from Situ Chökyi Jungne (1700–1774) at Palpung Monastery in Dege.
Finally they reached Taklha Gampo, the monastic seat of Gampopa (1079–1153), the main disciple of Milarepa (1040–1123). At Taklha Gampo, the Fifth Gampopa Jampal Thrinle Wangpo (Mipham Wangpo, 1757–?) named Dodrupchen as Sönam Chöden. With master Tamchö Wangchuk, a disciple of the Third Gampopa Zangpo Dorje, Dodrupchen studied Ngöndro, Chakchen Chödruk, and Phowa of both the Takpo and Zatsön traditions and many other teachings. Then he went on a pilgrimage to Tsāri, one of the most sacred places in Tibet, with much physical hardship. There, in a vision, he received the blessings of Vajravārāhī, a Buddha in female form. Soon all the voices, fears, and hardships he was experiencing on his pilgrimage turned into an experience of great joy, and he felt very happy and fulfilled.
On his return from Tsāri to Taklha Gampo, Tamchö Wangchuk sent him to a cemetery to spend the night practicing Chö and said: “Whatever happens, do not leave!” So Dodrupchen went to the cemetery and did his evening Chö practice. In the middle of the night, when he woke up, he saw that the rock behind him had turned into a huge and terrifying monster with long hair and sharp teeth. Dodrupchen was frightened, and his body was trembling. He couldn’t go back to sleep, but remembering the lama’s words, after performing another Chö practice, he remained lying there, his back against the monster. Before dawn he performed his third and last Chö practice. Soon day broke and there was nothing but the rock. He felt so happy, as if he had been granted another chance to live. From there, he went straight to the lama. By his clairvoyance the lama knew what had happened and was waiting for him. With a broad smile, the lama asked, “Was your good meditation still there?” Dodrupchen answered, “No, it has disappeared!” The lama said, “You did well! You were attached to your so-called good meditative experiences, which will cause rebirths in the higher realms of saṃsāra. I sent you to the cemetery to dissolve those attachments. So don’t feel regret that you have lost your experiences. You did well by not leaving the cemetery.” Then the lama, using this incident as the means of introduction to the ultimate nature, asked, “Is there any truly existing entity in those fears? Didn’t they arise and dissolve in their own [openness] nature [free from limitations]?” Then in Ösal Phuk, the Cave of Luminosity, Dodrupchen did a long retreat with very little food.
With his companions Dodrupchen went on pilgrimage to Samye, Lhasa, and other holy places in Central Tibet. Then they journeyed toward home. On the way, in Dege, Dodrupchen received teachings from Künzang Namgyal (1713–1769), the Second Rabjam of Zhechen Monastery (Shechen), who gave him the name Künzang Zhenphen. He also received teachings from Küntröl Namgyal (1706–1773), the First Jewön of Dzogchen Monastery, and Karma Tashi (1728– 1790), the First Karma Kuchen of Palyül Monastery.
From the ages of twenty-five through thirty he stayed around his home valley because an old uncle had urged him in the name of Dharma not to leave until he died. As Dodrupchen belonged to a powerful tribal group, traditional obligations forced him to take care of tribal responsibilities. He was a forceful orator with a fearless heart and a powerful personality, which made him a most admired tribal figure. One day, he was traveling across a valley to collect some debts, riding one of the best-known horses in the tribal community. Suddenly strong remorse over saṃsāra overwhelmed his mind. This instantly caused all the appearances before him to transform into the Pure Land of Amitābha Buddha. It was a beautiful atmosphere, unimaginable by the mind. All the graspings and cravings of his mind had dissolved. Then, in a most enchanting voice, the blissful Buddha Amitābha said, “Son of good family, do not stay here. Go wherever you like. Your purposes will be fulfilled.” Then he emerged from his realm of spiritual vision and experience into ordinary life, as if he had awakened from a deep sleep. Dodrupchen writes, “This experience might have lasted only for the time it takes to drink two cups of tea,” perhaps about twenty minutes. “Since then my feelings toward even the best kinds of worldly prosperity, power, and gain became as if they were rich food before a sick person who has no appetite at all.” Then he adds, “Although this experience might not seem of any great significance, yet it is the best part of my life story.”
Dodrupchen went to Dzogchen Monastery, where he received Khandro Nyingthig transmissions and teachings from Pema Sang- ngak Tendzin (1731–1805), the Second Pönlop, and he meditated on them.
Then with four other monks he set off on his second trip to Central Tibet. On the way he got very sick, and doctors and friends had little hope of his recovering, but he refused even to take any medicine. Nevertheless, after some time he recovered, solely by the power of his pilgrimage and inner meditative strength.
Finally, he reached Taklha Gampo again and received teachings from the Fifth Gampopa Jumpal Thrinle Wangpo (Tsültrim Palbar). Then they went on pilgrimage to Yarlung, Samye, Tashi Lhünpo, Sakya, Tsurphu, Lhasa, and Drikung. He also received teachings from the Thirteenth Karmapa Düdül Dorje (1733–1797), who gave him the name Karma Wangtrak.
Then he returned to Dzogchen Monastery. Because he felt uneasy meditating in the monastery because of so many distractions, he went to Kangtrö Ogma, the Lower Snow Mountain, not very far from Dzogchen Monastery.
At thirty-five he started a three-year retreat in a cave in the solitary mountain of Kangtrö Ogma, practicing Könchok Chidü and many other teachings, and especially Thögal in summer and Tsalung in winter. He enjoyed the great peace of the atmosphere, but he vowed to dedicate himself to the training without letting himself be distracted even for a second by his enjoyment of the surroundings. However, after a month or so, a great shaking up (Lhong Ch’a) arose in him. It became hard for him to stop the turbulent waves of thoughts, emotions, and illusions. He now started having disturbances of the life-force energy (Srog rLung), symptoms that brought him to the brink of insanity. All appearances arose as enemies. He even saw fearful animals in his teapot. He felt he was involved in fighting with weapons. One night in a dream he heard a very frightening shout, and he felt that it almost split his heart. Even after he awoke, he kept hearing the same cry and then saw a pillarlike dark light linking the ground and the sky. His body was trembling violently. He felt an unbearable terror and feared that the sky and earth were being turned upside down. But then in an instant, all the disturbing appearances dissolved into himself, the “I,” which was merely projecting and experiencing all those appearances. Then the concept of “I” was also gone beyond any elaboration. The fearful mind and the objects of fear all had merged into one taste, the taste of ultimate nature, the total openness. The fears of his dreams and experiences had vanished without even a trace. At that point, he writes, “I experienced a realization in which there is no designation of any view to realize or any meditation to follow. By just being in the realized state, my fear over negative experiences as well as joy over the experiences of bliss have gone.”
Just before reaching a high realization, it is normal for many meditators to experience the final mental, emotional, and habitual struggles in various forms or degrees of temptations, fearful illusions, threatening sounds, or painful feelings. Many great masters have had the same kinds of experience just before they entered into high states of realization. If you do not succumb to these kind of last-minute disturbances created by hidden subtle habits and get beyond all those final encounters by remaining in the realized nature, like shaking the dust from a rug for good, you will attain total freedom from mental and emotional obscurations with their traces. A person who is having a so-called smooth meditative experience might think, “I am doing so well that I have no shaking-up experiences,” but the truth could be that he has not yet destroyed his mental and emotional defilements and their habits from the root.
After some time, Dodrupchen’s food was exhausted and for a long time, except for some tea, he didn’t have much to eat. He became physically weak, like a man in a sickbed. He could hardly move, and his breathing became heavy and his chest congested. One day, as his water pot was empty, he went out to collect some water from a pond outside the cave. On the way back, while climbing up to the cave, because of the weight of the pot he fell down and lost consciousness. After a while he regained consciousness and tried to get up, but he could not. Thoughts came to his mind: “Now there is no way to escape from death. What to do?” Then another thought came into his mind: “It would be sad if I were dying while doing unvirtuous deeds, but I am dying while doing Dharma practice, so I should be rejoicing.” This thought brought a feeling of joy in him, and his joy gave him the strength to get up. He went back to the cave, treated himself with the smoke from burning a little tsampa that he had saved for medicinal use to calm down his violent air humors. Then he took a smaller pot and got some water. He made some tea and drank it, but as he had had no solid food for a long time, the tea made his body shake violently and he had a hard time calming it down.
Then he thought, “It would be better to go to Dzogchen Monastery and get some food. Otherwise I shall die, and that will be an obstacle to the practice.” He left the cave and climbed a little way down the hill, but he was so weak that he fell down again. Getting up, he thought, “How foolish I am. My lamas instructed me to practice. To follow the instructions of the lamas is my main practice. To go and look for food will be wrong. Even if I die, I shall not leave the meditation cell, until I finish my retreat.” He returned to the cave and resumed his meditation as usual. After a while he heard a knock on the door, but ignored it as he was practicing. At the break in practice, at the door he found a pot of yogurt, which he brought inside and ate. The yogurt had special healing qualities, which helped not only to restore his health but to assist his meditation. The yogurt was said to have been offered to him by the Dharma protectresses Tseringma, the Long-Life Sisters. Since then the environs of the meditation cave are known as Tsering Phuk, the Cave of Tseringma. A few days later his Dharma friends brought him provisions of food. The pot of yogurt left by Tseringma, made of copper gilded with gold, was preserved till the late 1950s in a stūpa in Dodrupchen Monastery.
At thirty-eight Dodrupchen moved to Shinje Cave near Dzogchen Monastery, and there he did another four-year retreat, except for a short break when he had to go to the monastery. He practiced the five- deity Chakrasaṃvara of the Takpo lineage, Wrathful Guru Mekhyil and Vajrakīla Yangsang La-me, both discovered by Ratna Lingpa. Then he meditated on Shinje (Yamarāja) and one day wrote the mantra on a rock with his finger as if in mud. Since then the cave became known as Shinje Cave, and I was told that the mantra is still visible on the rock.
Then he received the transmission of Tsasum Sangwa Nyingthig from the third Dzogchen Rinpoche (1759–1792), and he did a short retreat on it with many experiences and visions. During that retreat, the third Dzogchen Rinpoche sent him a copy of Yönten Rinpoche Dzö. His reading it gave him “uncontrived devotion” to its author, Jigme Lingpa.
Dodrupchen went to Dzogchen Rinpoche, who encouraged him to go see Jigme Lingpa, saying, “Seeing him will be more beneficial for you than staying in retreat.” Dzogchen Rinpoche also urged Dodrupchen to invite Jigme Lingpa to Kham on his behalf or at least to bring the transmission of Longchen Nyingthig for him and others. From Dzogchen Rinpoche he received the transmissions and teaching of Nyingthig Yabzhi and many other teachings.
Somewhere in Dege, Dodrupchen came to a big river but couldn’t find any way of crossing. He remained in the meditation of seeing the river as earth and walked across the river as if on dry land. When he was almost at the other shore, he thought, “Oh, my meditation is quite good,” and at that moment he sank into the river and almost drowned. So later he kept saying, “Thoughts are dangerous.”
At forty-one Dodrupchen left for Central Tibet for the third time. He met Jigme Lingpa, his karmic guru, for the first time at the house of Depa Pushü near Tsering Jong hermitage in Yarlung Valley in Southern Tibet. It was a time of great joy, like the reunion of a long-lost father and son. Jigme Lingpa said, “Last night I dreamed of meeting with a bodhisattva, and it must be you.” Dodrupchen saw Jigme Lingpa as Thangtong Gyalpo and experienced many visions and revelations.
Dodrupchen took the bodhisattva vow with Jigme Lingpa. That night, in his luminous dream Dodrupchen saw bowls of ringsel and remains of Buddha Kāshyapa being withdrawn from a white stūpa. It was the sign that Dodrupchen was renewing the vow that he took before Buddha Kāshyapa, when he was the son of King Kṛikrī at the time of Buddha Kāshyapa.
While receiving the empowerment of Lama Gongdü, Dodrupchen remembered clearly, without any doubt in his mind, that Jigme Lingpa had been Nyang Nyima Özer (1124–1192) and he himself had been Sangye Lingpa (1340–1396).
Jigme Lingpa gave Dodrupchen the complete transmission of both kama and terma teachings, including Longchen Nyingthig, Yönten Dzö, with its autocommentary, Dzödün, Shingta Namsum, Trölthik, and Nying Gyü. Jigme Lingpa gave him the name Jigme Thrinle Özer, Rays of Fearless Enlightened Action.
When Dodrupchen was at Samye, Barchung Gomchen Rigdzin and Mange Pema Künzang from Kham arrived on pilgrimage. With a letter Dodrupchen sent them to Jigme Lingpa for teachings. Later Pema Künzang became Jigme Lingpa’s renowned disciple Jigme Gyalwe Nyuku. Having received teachings for two weeks, Rigdzin and Gyalwe Nyuku returned to Dodrupchen at Samye. Together they all went on pilgrimage in Central Tibet. Then they went to see a great meditator, Rigdzin Pema She-nyen, in Tsang and received many Changter (Northern Treasure) transmissions.
Then Dodrupchen returned to Lhasa from Tsang accompanied by Gyalwe Nyuku, who was on his way to Kham. While they were crossing a no-man’s land in the Yadrok area of Central Tibet, Dodrupchen got seriously sick, but his mind remained very cheerful. Gyalwe Nyuku writes:
When we, teacher and disciple, were going downward in Yadrok valley, the Lord Lama [Dodrupchen] got seriously sick with air and rheumatism. He was in constant excruciating pain and became so weak that he was almost dying. We didn’t have much to eat except a piece of rotten animal fat and a pot of oil.
We didn’t have even a spoonful of tsampa. We drank some black tea. After he sat down to rest, in order for him to stand, I had to help him by pulling him up with the full strength of my two hands. Although physically he was in critical condition, instead of being depressed, he would say: “Oh, today I have a chance to pursue a little austerity in the practice of Dharma by putting some burden on my mortal body and by taming my greedy mind. I am achieving the goal for my precious human life…
There is no doubt that the experiences of hardship I am going through are the fortunate fruitions produced by the accumulation of merits and purification of obscurations in my numerous lives in the past.” There was great joy in his mind. I too was joyful, thinking, “It is wonderful that this Lord Lama is putting into practice [what the Buddha taught]”:
Preserve Dharma [realization] forever,
Even at [the cost of] crossing [a mass of] flames or [a field of] razors.
Also, sometimes when the lama wasn’t watching, I cried a lot, thinking:
This holy person is going to die in this place where no other human being will even notice.
From Lhasa, Gyalwe Nyuku went back to Tsang, Western Tibet, and Dodrupchen left for Kham, Eastern Tibet. But after a few days’ journey, Dodrupchen could not bear leaving his teacher without seeing him once more. So he turned south and went to see Jigme Lingpa, to the great surprise and joy of his teacher. Dodrupchen received more transmissions and teachings. Jigme Lingpa recognized him as the incarnation of Prince Murum Tsenpo, son of King Trisong Detsen, and empowered him as the principal doctrine-holder of the Longchen Nyingthig teachings, as prophesied in Nechang Thukkyi Drombu:
An incarnation of the Lhase [Divine Prince]
shall open the door of the [Longchen Nyingthig] doctrine.
On his return to Do Valley, at the request of Akyongza Paldzom, the lady chieftain of Upper Do Valley, Dodrupchen laid the foundation of a gompa at Shukchen Tago, which is about ten miles down from the present Dodrupchen Monastery. But soon he left for Dege and construction stopped.
At Dzogchen Monastery, he gave the textual transmissions of Longchen Nyingthig to the Third Dzogchen Rinpoche (1759–1792) and the Second Pönlop (1731–1805) of Dzogchen Monastery. Again with the approval of Dzogchen Rinpoche, Dodrupchen went to Central Tibet for the fourth and last time, with huge offerings. He was accompanied by Getse Lama Sönam Tendzin (Jigme Ngotsar) and a few others. This time he saw Jigme Lingpa at the house of Depa Lha Gyatri (Gyari).
Then with Jigme Lingpa he traveled to Samye. In the main temple of Samye, Dodrupchen sponsored and arranged a huge tsok offering ceremony presided over by Jigme Lingpa. He took bodhichitta vows again from Jigme Lingpa, and they recited many Zangpo Chöpe Mönlam together. He sponsored a mendrup, the preparation of “blessed medicine,” for seven days under the mastership of Jigme Lingpa. Remember that the main temple of Samye is the place where Guru Rinpoche entrusted Longchen Nyingthig teachings to King Trisong Detsen, a previous incarnation of Jigme Lingpa’s, and transmitted teachings to Prince Murum Tsepo, a previous incarnation of Dodrupchen’s, a number of centuries previously.
Then they traveled together to Tsering Jong. Jigme Lingpa gave many empowerments, but as he had problems with his eyesight, Dodrupchen gave the textual transmission (Lung) of Nyingma Gyübum and others to the tülku of Tsele Götsang Tülku, Jigme Tenpe Gyaltsen of Thangdrok, and many others on behalf of his master.
In 1791, when Dodrupchen was at Samye, the Gurkha forces of Nepal ransacked many places in Western Tibet, including the town of Shigatse and Tashi Lhünpo Monastery. People in Central Tibet were frightened of being overrun by Gurkha forces any day, and many were fleeing their towns and monasteries.
As requested by fearful people, after having completed prayers at the main temple of Samye, Dodrupchen went to Hepori Hill and made a Sang offering. He invoked the Dharma protectors and reminded them of their vows to protect Tibet made before the very eyes of Guru Rinpoche. The smoke of the Sang formed the shape of a garuḍa (an eaglelike mystical bird) in the sky and was carried in the direction of the invaders. At sunset he threw a torma (offering cake) toward the West. At that moment, a dark cloud and a strong storm were coming from the West, but as soon as he threw the torma, miraculously the cloud turned back toward the West.
Then, in a poem, Dodrupchen gave his prophecy that there would be nothing more to fear from Nepalese forces, and he sent it to the government in Lhasa. Because of his assurances, people in Samye stopped fleeing. He wanted to go to see Jigme Lingpa but couldn’t, as no boat was available to cross the Tsangpo River. Then he went to Kordzö Ling, the temple of the Dharma protectors at Samye. First he said prayers and performed ceremonies. But suddenly his manner totally changed. He shouted at the image of Pehar, the main Dharma protector of Tibet, hit it with his shawl, pulled down the coverings of the image, and challenged the Dharma protector’s promises to protect Tibet before the eyes of Guru Rinpoche. Finally, he felt peaceful and remained in contemplation in that peace for a long time. (I have heard stories that the image was seen to tremble, and smoky mist came from its mouth and nose and rose into the air, causing hailstorms and epidemics among the invading forces.)
Kalön Dzasak Lama Kalzang Namgyal, one of the high authorities of the Tibetan government, sent a special emissary to Dodrupchen for his prophecy about the Nepalese danger. Dodrupchen wrote his prophecy in a poem that included the following lines and sent it to Kalön Lama:
In [my mind, which is] crystal-clear primordial purity,
Appear the following words and expressions:
When you are at ease, O arrogant people
Who are swollen with pride,
Do not listen to any unsubstantiated voice.
Do not flee to any unknown land. . ..
As the four provinces of Central Tibet were facing the threat of severe drought, Dodrupchen performed a fire-offering ceremony (homa), and that produced heavy rain, bringing great relief for many from the danger of famine.
From Samye, Dodrupchen went to Tsering Jong. At that time, Jigme Lingpa couldn’t read much because of eye problems, possibly cataracts. Jigme Gyalwe Nyuku sent for an eye doctor, who performed a successful operation. Before taking his final leave, Dodrupchen offered everything he had, including his cherished old hat, to Jigme Lingpa. He experienced great joy and peace as a result of this action.
Praising Dodrupchen, Jigme Lingpa gave his advice in writing, including the following lines:
A person who can heal the disturbances of [physical and environmental] elements,
Who is able to tame the negative circumstances, and
Who can accomplish whatever [the teacher] orders him to do—
Isn’t he called a fortunate disciple?
Because of our past karmic relations,
Which began many previous lives ago, Jigme Thrinle Özer,
You came here from a long distance,
From a place that is difficult to see or hear about.
Carrying as precious gifts the treasures of profound and vast teachings,
Which are hard to find,
You are returning toward your homeland.
You are like a successful trader returning across the ocean.
If there were no karmic relations,
Even if you lived in the same part of the country,
How could you see me
As a bodhisattva, who takes care of others? . . .
As prophesied in Nechang Thukkyi Drombu,
While building the temple of Samye,
We were related as father [the king] and son [the prince].
Pure visions of that fact you saw by yourself.
From your childhood,
While remaining in solitary places,
As I did in my life,
You have received the prophecies about [discovering] ters.
Now the treasure of kama and terma teachings
I am entrusting to you, and
I prophesy that you will spread it in the barbarous lands.
As long as the [realization of the] true nature is not being lost to delusions,
There is no need to spend one’s life in retreats. . . .
Between you and me there is no separation.
By the truth of the union of my mind and your mind,
By the compassionate blessings of the three Jewels,
By the power of the three roots, and
By the actions of the Dharma protectors,
May there be no negative circumstances in your Dharma activities, and
May there be not even a trace of any obstruction.
Jigme Lingpa said, “Tonight you stay in my house. I have some advice to give to you.” So Dodrupchen spent his last night in the presence of Jigme Lingpa. Jigme Lingpa said:
All the instructions that I have received on both canonical and terma teachings are the inheritance of both you and me. When I was entrusted with the yellow scroll [of Longchen Nyingthig] by the Ḍākinī of the Ultimate Sphere, she told me that these are the Dharma inheritance of the king and his son. Also, in Nechang (Thukkyi Drombu) it is said, “The door of the teachings will be opened by the incarnation of the Divine Prince.” So, without any doubt, you are the incarnation [of the Divine Prince]. So to propagate the teachings for the benefits of the tradition and beings is your main mission. We are inseparable. In future there will come a time that your enlightened activities will become very successful, but there will also be many obstructions from negative forces. Pray to me, and your obstructions will be pacified. When in you a new faith arises toward me, if a new opportunity arises, we, father and son, will meet again.
The meaning of the last line was that Jigme Lingpa would take rebirth as Do Khyentse and would meet Dodrupchen again as his teacher.
Dodrupchen expressed his wish to remain as a hermit. Jigme Lingpa, rejecting that aspiration, advised:
I have given you the vow of the bodhisattva, the pledge of taking the responsibility of [providing happiness for] all beings on your shoulders. If you just enjoy the peace and joy of a cave, you could be neglecting your vows. Never waver from propagation of the teachings. I have no doubt that even unvirtuous situations will turn into virtues for you.
The next day, touching the warm bare feet of Jigme Lingpa with the crown of his head, Dodrupchen, a stream of tears glowing on his face, said, “In all successive future lives, may I never be separated from you, my protector lord. May every action and thought of my body, speech, and mind become a powerful source of benefit for the Dharma and beings.” Jigme Lingpa, with great affection touching the forehead of Dodrupchen with his own forehead, said, “It is a promise; we have no separation. Please travel joyfully.” Dodrupchen, with the feeling that his heart was leaping out of his chest, stepped backward and left the room and the hermitage.
Now that Dodrupchen had become known as an important lama, he had to perform ceremonies of blessings at Samye, Depa Lha Gyatri, and many other places.
At Döjo Palkhyim (Döpal) in Lhasa, as requested by the government, under the personal supervision of Changtrung Khenpo (aka Kudün Khenpo), Dodrupchen performed ceremonies for many days for the welfare of the government and the country and then for Kudün Khenpo himself. While effectuating a dö (mDos) ceremony of Magön, with just his right hand Dodrupchen miraculously raised a two-story-high dö and then threw it. The Tibetan government paid him great respect and gratitude for his protection and prophecy for the country. Since that time, Dodrupchen became known by the name of Dodrupchen, the Great Adept (Mahāsiddha) of Do (Valley). People of Lhasa said, “There are many adepts (Grub Thob), but there is only one Great Adept (Grub Ch’en, Drupchen).”
Dodrupchen also brought back Gyalwe Nyuku with him to Kham. On the way they faced many dangers, but he conquered them all either by heroic courage or by spiritual powers. It all only strengthened his inner realization. For example, one day they lost their way in the snow, and Dodrupchen experienced a feeling of sadness. From that sadness arose an amazing vision of Milarepa. Milarepa, singing, gave him the Ngetöti Nyingpo sādhana of Milarepa and merged himself into Dodrupchen.
In 1793, Dodrupchen was invited by the Dege Palace for the first time. He performed ceremonies and gave teachings accompanied by many mystical signs. From that time Dodrupchen became one of the main preceptors of Queen-Regent Tsewang Lhamo and her son, Prince Tsewang Dorje Rigdzin (1786–1847?) of Dege. The Dege court requested him to stay as their preceptor, but Dodrupchen immediately refused, for going to Wu Tai Shan in China in order to spend the rest of his life there was his primary goal (although it was never realized).
Now Dodrupchen was dedicating his life solely to the propagation of Dharma, so that the teachings would reach the hearts of many trainable beings. In his autobiography Jigme Lingpa expressed his joy on receiving a message about Dodrupchen’s success in the propagation of Dharma.
Dola [the Lama from Do, i.e., Dodrupchen] has given the explanatory teachings of Nyingthig [in Dege] three times. On the first occasion, two thousand disciples received teachings; on the second, three thousand; and on the third, five thousand. Many lay people took vows of not hunting, whereby many animals were given the “gift of fearlessness.” I feel happy that I have brought about this small result by staying in a remote place and developing bodhi-chitta. This is the fulfillment of the prophecy that said:
The incarnations of Nam-nying, Nyang-ben, Chok-ying, and the Divine Prince will open the door of [Longchen Nyingthig] teachings.
In the same year, as requested and sponsored by the queen-regent of Dege, Dodrupchen laid the foundation of Ogmin Rigdzin Phelgye Ling Monastery at Getse Tö in Dzachukha Valley. But after laying the foundation, he left for Amdo because of his long-standing aspiration to go to Wu Tai Shan. He made a winter-long retreat at Trakkar Treldzong, a sacred place in Amdo.
In the monastery of Chöje Rinpoche in Go-me Province, Dodrupchen transmitted the Longchen Nyingthig and other teachings to Chöje Rinpoche, a celebrated Geluk scholar, who had studied Nyingma teachings and had become one of Dodrupchen’s disciples. Dodrupchen received some transmissions from Go-me Chöje also.
Dodrupchen gave teachings and served many Tibetan and Mongolian communities of that region. He displayed many miracles, such as causing a stream to flow out of dry land for a community that was without water. For the Mongols of the Blue Lake region he became known as Harhan Dalai Lama.
Because of the fame of Dodrupchen’s enlightened power, old Chönang Dzasak, a powerful Mongol chieftain, invited him to his domain, although Nyingma practice had been prohibited there for the last two years. The chieftain had many children, but none ever survived, although he took the spiritual protection of the lamas of Kubum Monastery. Dodrupchen blessed him and prophesied that the chieftain would have another child. When a child was born, the baby was so sick that no one expected him to live. But through Dodrupchen’s spiritual protection the child survived. First he was named Yamathar, and later his name was changed to Garwap Gyalchok and Yizhin Wangyal. The spiritual power of Dodrupchen caused a new attitude of tolerance in the minds of people toward other lineages of Buddhism in that area.
Dodrupchen was also invited by the Mongol king, Ching Wang Ngawang Dargye (1759–1807), also known as Chögyal Ngaki Wangpo. Ngawang Dargye was the most important chieftain in the Blue Lake region at that time. Dodrupchen gave the transmissions and instructions of Longchen Nyingthig, Khandro Yangtig, and commentaries of Yönten Dzö to between forty and a hundred important people in addition to the king and queen.
Dodrupchen gave the Longchen Nyingthig transmission to Drupchen Tülku Jigme Namkha Gyaltsen of Gön Lakha, who became a Longchen Nyingthig lineage holder. Before 1959, it is known that Gön Lakha had more than nineteen hundred tantric residents. Dodrupchen also taught to Ngawang Tendar Lharampa (1759–?) of the Alaksha Mongols. Then a problem arose for Dodrupchen involving the Amban, the representative of the emperor of China at Sining, the capital of the state of Blue Lake (Qinghai). Dodrupchen was summoned to the Amban’s camp and accused of belonging to a group of Khampas who were fleeing from their homeland. Dodrupchen was helping them, but he didn’t belong to that particular group. Another accusation was that Dodrupchen had been in the Blue Lake region for a few years without informing the Amban, which was true. Further, it was said that he was wearing the hat of a Khenpo, an abbot, without official recognition, which was partially true since he hadn’t received such recognition from the Geluk school, which was the official religious institution of that particular region. Through two interpreters, the Amban questioned Dodrupchen for a whole day amid a huge assembly of Tibetan and Mongolian dignitaries of the Blue Lake region, including King Ngawang Dargye and Jonang Dzasak. All of them, as Dodrupchen describes it, “sat as if they were receiving a religious discourse.” At the end of the day, not only was Dodrupchen released, but the Amban was so impressed that he even requested him to say prayers for a sick friend of his. The problem was thus miraculously avoided, to everybody’s surprise. Otherwise there could have been a real danger to Dodrupchen’s life and to the positions of many Mongol princes, who were his patrons.
Many months later, the Amban sent another messenger to invite Dodrupchen to Sining. In Sining, with great respect the Amban said to Dodrupchen, “Usually, when people get a letter from the emperor, they stand and listen to it facing east. You, however, may remain sitting, but listen carefully and face east.” Ceremoniously he opened the letter from the Emperor Chia Ch’ing (r. 1796–1820), which included the following lines:
If the lama is beneficial to people, there should be no problem about his being a lama of the Red Hat [Nyingma] sect. He [Dodrupchen] must stay in the Blue Lake region. He mustn’t leave for Wu Tai Shan, for Lhasa, or for his own home. If he should leave, he must consult the emperor first. The chieftains [of the Blue Lake region] must pay respect and service to the lama.
The people of that area saw that the emperor’s recognition of Dodrupchen as a lama of the twelve divisions (mDa’ Tshan) of Mongols of the Blue Lake region was a great honor. They were joyful because their prayers that he would stay with them were granted. But Dodrupchen’s dream of going to Wu Tai Shan was shattered. (There are stories that Dodrupchen’s disciple-chieftains were instrumental in the emperor’s edict that he must remain in that area.)
Realizing that now he could not travel toward Wu Tai Shan against the emperor’s edict, Dodrupchen wanted instead to go to Central Tibet to see Jigme Lingpa once again. But his devotees persisted in opposing this plan, citing the emperor’s order. So Dodrupchen sent Jigme Chötrak in his stead to Central Tibet with huge offerings, everything that he possessed. The travelers also took many gifts from King Ngawang Dargye for Jigme Lingpa.
The Chonang chieftain requested Dodrupchen to build a gompa (monastary) and promised all the necessary financial and political support. But Dodrupchen refused to accept the offering, reminding himself of a wise old saying, “Don’t stay too close to your patrons.”
Arik Geshe Chenmo Champa Gelek Gyaltsen (1726–1803) of Ragya Monastery, a preeminent Geluk scholar, profusely praised Dodrupchen and made generous offerings to him. He also received transmissions from Dodrupchen.
An epidemic in Arik Ragya Gompa, a large Geluk monastery in Amdo, killed about half of its four thousand monk residents. All the survivors fled to a nearby valley, except one monk, who chose not to leave, as it would disrupt his saying the prayer of Mañjushrī-nāma- saṃgīti. One day he heard the sound of bells and saw some people with an unusual tigerlike animal entering the abandoned monastery. When one of them came to his house, before he could warn him of the epidemic, the man said, “Dodrupchen is here. He wants to get the message to the monks that there will be no more danger and they can return. We are disposing of the abandoned bodies.” Later, Dodrupchen performed a fire-offering ceremony (homa) and stopped the epidemic, enabling the monastery to revive. He also miraculously drew a stream of water from the rock of Amye Khyung-gön, the hill behind the monastery, which is still a healing stream today.
An uncle of Dodrupchen and others came from Do Valley in Golok and urged him to return home. Citing and emperor’s order, the chieftains and people of the Blue Lake region, who were his devotees, objected to his departure. But Dodrupchen’s uncle suddenly got sick and refused to take medicine or go to any monastery for prayers unless Dodrupchen would go back home with him. Thus the chieftains were forced to allow Dodrupchen to return home. He left Lama Pema Tamchö behind as his representative to show that he was not abandoning the area.
Dodrupchen returned from the Blue Lake region to Do Valley in 1799. There he resumed building his Drotön Lhüntrup Gompa at Shukchen Tago in Do Valley. Jigme Gyalwe Nyuku also came to Do Valley to help Dodrupchen build the monastery. Dodrupchen, accompanied by Gyalwe Nyuku and others, visited the King Tsewang Lhündrup (d. 1825) of Dzigak at the Phüntsok Dzong, the king of Chötse, and many places in Dzika Valley to transmit teachings, perform ceremonies, and raise funds for the monastery.
Nüden Dorje, a young nephew of Dodrupchen’s, who later became the famous Khangdong (or Khordong) Terchen, came to see his uncle. Dodrupchen gave him a vajra and a phurbu and asked him to stand up. Holding them in his hand, Terchen turned around and said HŪṂ HŪṂ HŪṂ. At that moment, the memories of Terchen’s having been Düdül Dorje (1615–1672) in the past awakened. Then Dodrupchen conferred on him the empowerment of Yumka Dechen Gyalmo, and Terchen heard the sound of the mantra OṂ PADMOYOGINĪ JÑĀNAVĀRĀHĪ HŪṂ coming from all the trees, flowers, and vegetation he could see around him.
In 1801, on a visit to Mar Valley, Dodrupchen met Do Khyentse (1800–1866), who was then about a year old. The child was insisting his parents take him to someone named Sönam Chöden, adding that otherwise he would be going home, meaning that he would die. Sönam Chöden was one of the early names of Dodrupchen, but hardly anybody but he knew it. When Dodrupchen met the child, he tearfully held him and assured him, “I will take care of you.” Khyentse wrote years later that when he met Dodrupchen, he saw him not in the form of an ordinary person, but as Guru Rinpoche.
At the advice of Dodrupchen, Do Khyentse was brought to Shukchen Tago and started to receive blessings and teachings. Do Khyentse kept seeing Dodrupchen in various forms and surrounded by various men and women in mysterious forms. After growing up, he realized that those appearances were not normal forms of the lama or his surroundings.
After a few years’ stay, the involvement of the chieftain of upper Do Valley in shielding a thief was discovered. That incident disappointed Dodrupchen greatly, as he was not only a great lama, but a wise, ethical, and highly respected tribal leader. Soon, he refused to stay at Shukchen Tago, although it remained as a hermitage for many years. Paltrül Rinpoche (1808–1887) read the Kanjur there for a long time and memorized many sūtras. However, I saw only the ruins of Shukchen Tago when I used to pass by the place as a child.
Dodrupchen kept receiving urgent invitations from the king of Dege and Dzogchen Monastery. He went to Gyarong Monastery, Dzogchen Monastery, and places in Dzachukha Valley. He was received with great ceremonial processions at each place. At Dzogchen Monastery he gave empowerments to the young Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche. When he heard that the queen-mother regent of Dege was seriously sick, he rushed to Dege Palace. The queen mother had just recovered from her sickness. Dodrupchen gave her teachings on Yeshe Lama and other teachings. To the king he gave empowerments of Hyagrīva, and Vajrakīla of Gyüluk. Later he also transmitted to him the ter teachings discovered by Dodrupchen himself.
Dodrupchen transmitted many teachings, including Yabzhi, Longchen Nyingthig, Nyingma Gyübum, and Dzödün to many disciples, including high lamas of Nyingma monasteries of Kham, such as Dzogchen, Kathok, and Zhechen. Among the recipients were the Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche, Do Khyentse, the Third Zhechen Rabjam, Kathok Situ, Gotsa Tülkus, Gomchen Ngawang Chöjor, and Thartse Khenchen Namkha Chi-me of Ngor.
Till then, Do Khyentse was staying under the care of Dodrupchen and had unofficially been recognized as the tülku of Jigme Lingpa by Dodrupchen himself. Then approval of the recognition by Sakya Kongma and Drikung tülkus, who were close disciples of Jigme Lingpa, was brought by the representatives from Drikung, who came to bring the tülku to Central Tibet. With elaborate arrangements by the Dege Palace, Do Khyentse was then sent to Drikung, where Jigme Lingpa’s son was one of two heads of the Drikung lineage.
In 1806, as an uncle of Dodrupchen was dying, he rushed back to Golok from Dege. But until 1809, he went back and forth a few times between Dege, Dzogchen, and Golok, performing ceremonies and mostly giving transmissions and teachings at many monasteries and other places.
With Jigme Gyalwe Nyuku, Dodrupchen built Dzagya Monastery in Dzachukha Valley, which later became the main seat of Jigme Gyalwe Nyuku himself and of his famous disciple, Paltrül Rinpoche.
I would like to note here that there was a sectarian resistance against the influence of Nyingma lamas headed by Dodrupchen in the Dege court. However, there is no basis for the assertion made by some Western writers that Dodrupchen was imprisoned and then exiled from Dege during the revolt in Dege in 1798. In fact, Dodrupchen was not in Dege during this period. Between 1793 and 1799 he remained in the Blue Lake region giving teachings to Tibetans and Mongols. He returned from Amdo to Golok only in 1799 and built Shukchen Tago Gompa. It was only from around 1802 until 1809 that he made frequent visits to Dege, giving teachings to the queen-mother regent and the prince, who became king in 1806. Dodrupchen made many visits and spent a lot of time in Dege after his return from Amdo, compared with his single visit of many months in 1793. According to numerous documents, not only the queen-mother regent but also her son, King Tsewang Dorje Rigdzin (1786–1847?, r. 1806–1847?), remained ardent devotees of Dodrupchen.
Dodrupchen inspired the palace of Dege to commission the wooden blocks of the nine volumes by Jigme Lingpa, and also the twenty-five volumes of the Nyingma Gyübum and more than ten volumes by Longchen Rabjam.
Finally in 1809 Dodrupchen returned to Golok. A prophecy of Rongtön Dechen Lingpa (17th century) says:
An incarnation of the Divine Prince, the heroic bodhisattva,
Will appear, with teachers and meditators of Dzogchen Ati.
He will build about three monasteries in upper, middle, and lower Ser Valley.
In 1810, at the age of sixty-six, he established a meditation center at Yarlung in the Trakchen gorge of Ser Valley. He named it the Pemakö Tsasum Khandrö Ling. Later, it became known popularly as Yarlung Pemakö Monastery.
After building Yarlung Pemakö, Dodrupchen vowed never to leave it, so he didn’t go anywhere, but stayed there for more than the next ten years of his life. While Dodrupchen was living there, music with no visible source could be heard in Yarlung Pemakö on almost every tenth and twenty-fifth day of the lunar calendar. People believed that the music was played by the assembly of ḍākas and ḍākinīs. On those days when the music was heard, people were reminded that this was one of the ceremonial days of the month.
At Yarlung Pemakö, Dodrupchen taught and gave transmissions to a great number of disciples, many of whom went on to become famous masters. Frequently, when Dodrupchen would give the transmission of empowerments and the instructions, Jigme Kalzang would give the textual transmission (Lung) on his behalf.
In 1812, Do Khyentse returned from central Tibet to see the aging Dodrupchen. Again and again the king of Dege strongly urged both Dodrupchen and Do Khyentse to come to Dege, but Dodrupchen couldn’t go, as he had vowed never to leave his monastery.
At the age of twenty, the Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche (1793–?) visited Yarlung Pemakö to receive further teachings from Dodrupchen. Dodrupchen transmitted to him the empowerment, texts, and instructions belonging to Longchen Rabjam and Jigme Lingpa, as well as Vima Nyingthig and Nyen-gyü Dorje Zampa.
Dodrupchen blessed Dzogchen Rinpoche by giving him a skull cup full of chang (beer). With the drink, the teacher’s realization was spontaneously transferred to Dzogchen Rinpoche, and he attained the state of the dissolution of relative phenomena into the absolute nature (Ch’os Nyid Zad Pa). Thereafter Dzogchen Rinpoche became a famous adept who made no distinctions and who had no hope or fear of good or bad. There are many amazing stories of his life and wisdom.
When Gyalse Zhenphen Thaye (1800–?) first saw Yarlung Pemakö from afar, he got off his horse. Making many prostrations, he cried like a child. He said, “This place of my teacher is nothing but the true Unexcel ed Pure Land of the Dharmakāya.” When he reached Dodrupchen, the lama was blessing people by touching them with a small banner made of silk ribbons of five colors, and Gyalse saw Vajrapāṇi in a light body adorning the banner.
In 1815, Dodrupchen sent Do Khyentse to Central Tibet with huge offerings. He returned in 1816.
In 1817/18, Jigme Gyalwe Nyuku came to Yarlung Pemakö to see the aged Dodrupchen for the last time. It was a time of great joy and sadness for both the Dharma father and son or brothers.
Dodrupchen summed up the reunion by saying, “It is [as rare and joyful as] the meeting of a dead and a living person.” Dodrupchen gave teachings on Ngöndro and many other teachings to Gyalwe Nyuku and others. He also prophesied where Gyalwe Nyuku should establish his main seat, with detailed descriptions of a place that he had never seen.
In Yarlung Pemakö, many great masters came to receive transmissions from Dodrupchen. Among them were Gyalwe Nyuku, Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche, Do Khyentse, Kathok Getse Mahāpṇḍita, Dola Jigme Kalzang, Repa Tamtsik Dorje, Chöying Tobden Dorje, Zhichen Sönam Palden, Sönam Gyaltsen, Changlung Namkha Jigme Dorje, and Gyalse Zhenphen Thaye.
In 1819, Dodrupchen advised the representatives of Dege Palace, Dzogchen Monastery, Kathok Monastery, and Drikung to allow Do Khyentse to be a hermit tāntrika, as he wished in order to fulfill his enlightened activities. So they did allow Do Khyentse to assume the life of a wandering yogi. Do Khyentse recalls the life of the aged Dodrupchen in those days:
The Precious Lord Dharma King was in better health than before. Occasionally he would suddenly sing yogic songs, but we did not have the opportunity to write them down. Sometimes he would describe his visions of the Sambhogakāya pure lands, and at other times, various circumstances of beings in the six realms. He also gave prophecies of the future of the Dharma propagation and of individuals. Some of us kept seeing his body in various forms, and sometimes we saw no body but only his clothes on his seat. There were endless wonders. Whenever we remembered any question we had on important points of teachings, he would answer spontaneously without our needing to ask him.
At the age of seventy-seven, in the early morning of the thirteenth day of the first month of the Iron Snake year (1821), he changed into Sambhogakāya costume. He gave instructions to some disciples individually. Then, without being sick, he merged into ultimate peace, while describing his experience of the phases of withdrawal of energies of the elements in the body. Beams and circles of rainbow lights and a rain of flowers filled the sky. When his body was cremated, many ringsels emerged as the sign of high attainment. His followers built a golden stüpa in which they preserved his remains at Dodrupchen Monastery till 1959. Ngawang Tendar Lharampa, a famous Geluk writer and a disciple of Dodrupchen from Alaksha, Mongolia, writes:
There are masters who are able to attain the realization . . . that dissolves [their bodies into rainbow-light bodies] but who choose instead to attain the state of knowledge-holder with residue. The reason is that some of them have not ended their karmic force, in order to dedicate themselves to turning the wheel of activities in the service of Dharma and beings. Others leave physical remains in the form of dungs and ringsels, so that these at least remain as sources of blessing for the disciples. An example is [the manner of death of] our precious refuge, the glorious Jigme Thrinle Özer, the illusory manifestation of Samantabhadra, the primordial Buddha arisen in the perceptions of trainable beings as the lord of the sages and the embodiment of the hundred Buddha families.
On the very night of Dodrupchen’s death, his spiritual testament was received by his principal disciple, Do Khyentse, who was at a distance of many weeks of travel. In the latter part of the night of the thirteenth day of the first month of the Iron Snake year, Dodrupchen appeared in the sky in a radiant light body and an attire of lights. He was floating on a carpet of light, which was held up by four ḍākinīs. In a very enchanting voice he sang the verses of his testament, which include the following lines, and then he merged into Do Khyentse.
I am going into the expanse of the Wisdom of the Ultimate Sphere,
Which is the state that transcends thoughts and expressions. I am going into the state of Mirrorlike Wisdom,
Which is the ceaseless clear glow, fresh and open.
I am going into the expanse of the Wisdom of Evenness,
In which all the thoughts of grasping and grasper have vanished into the ultimate sphere.
I am going into the Wisdom of Discriminative Awareness,
Which is the clarity, the dawn of six kinds of foreknowledge.
I am going into the state of the Wisdom of Accomplishment,
Which emanates various manifestations in accordance with [the needs of] trainable beings.
I am going to Zangdok Palri, the pure land of knowledge- holders.
As my mind becomes the same as the mind of the Heruka,
I will manifest three incarnations as your companion.
This testament, until it clearly appears
As the secret drawings of the ḍākinī symbols,
Keep sealed tightly like the mouth of a dead body.
May these symbols never vanish, TIṢHṬHA-LHEN!
Son, please stay healthy.
Now you have won over the obstructions of your life.
Until all the phenomenal existents are liberated as the signs and teachings [of Dharma],
[You should be] aware of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa as dreams and illusions.
Dedicate yourself to the meditation where there is no reference point.
This is the empowerment of total entrustment and aspiration.
This is the supreme empowerment of empowerments.
Dodrupchen discovered many teachings as mind treasure, under the title of Tamchö Dechen Lamchok, the Excellent Path of Supreme Joy, the Holy Teachings. It includes Outer, Inner, and Secret sādhanas of Amitābha, a most sacred sādhana of Hayagrīva, and the sādhanas of the twelve Dzogchen Masters, Milarepa, Machik Labdrön, and Mahādeva. He also discovered a famous Chö liturgy, entitled Chuwo Chigdre. Among his writings were Gyatsö Chuthik (A Drop from the Ocean), a short and a long version of commentaries on Yönten Rinpoche Dzö, a brief commentary on Chö Khandrö Kegyang, a sādhana of purification of samaya, and compilations of Mahākala liturgy and of the Vajrakīla sādhana discovered by Sangye Lingpa.
Dodrupchen wrote many prophecies. It is known that Labrang Monastery in Amdo had a one-volume collection of his prophecies. I myself have seen a collection of a couple of hundred pages, but now only one section of a few pages seems to have survived.
Dodrupchen was renowned for the clarity and accuracy of his prophecies. Usually lamas write their prophecies as they are told of the events by a ḍākinī, a lama, or a Buddha in a pure vision. But the uniqueness of Dodrupchen’s prophetic writings is that he foretells the events as a natural or self-arisen vision that appears in his realized wisdom state itself. For example:
In the mirror of the Ultimate Sphere [of my wisdom mind], which is free from thoughts,
Arise the situations of the world in general, and Of Eastern Tibet (mDo sMad) in particular,
In the form of interdependent arisings without any confusion. ..,
He foretold many events related to Dharma propagation, various provinces, and individuals. For example, he prophesied the births of Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892), Zhapkar Tsoktruk Rangtröl (1781– 1851), Pema Siddhi (d. 1957), and hundreds of other great lamas.
He foretold that China would become “red,” although in his time “red” didn’t signify what it does today. He also foretold what could happen to a regent of Tibet from Redring (died in 1947) and the consequences of that event.
Soon after Dodrupchen’s death, Do Khyentse returned to Yarlung Pemakö to pay respect to the remains, ashes, and ringsels of Dodrupchen, which were kept in a vase. Dodrupchen’s disciples urged Do Khyentse to stay as Dodrupchen’s successor (gDan Tshabs), but he refused.
Later, Gyalse Zhenphen Thaye (1800–?) of Dzogchen Monastery, a celebrated scholar and one of the main disciples of Dodrupchen, came to stay as Dodrupchen’s successor for a while. Gyalse instituted a forty-five-day annual teaching and practice of Guhyagarbha- māyājāla-tantra at Yarlung Pemakö. Paltrül Rinpoche acted as the teaching-assistant to Gyalse for the first year, and then he himself presided over it for two more years. Paltrül Rinpoche and Nyoshül Lungtok (d. 1902?) stayed around Ser and Do Valley, the seats of Dodrupchen, for about nine or ten years.
Among his disciples were the lineage-holder masters, who are prophesied in The Confidential Prophecy of Lama Gongdü.225 They are the four lineage-holders named Dorje (rDo rje’i gDung bZhi), the thirteen named Dorje (rDo rje’i Ming Chan bChu gSum), and the six named Sangye (Buddha mCh’ed Drug).
There are different interpretations for specifying the four lineage- holders named Dorje. One way is: (1) Dola Jigme Kalzang Dorje (Chökyi Lodrö) in the east, like the sound of a white conch full of spiritual fame, (2) Repa Tamtsik Dorje of Khyunglung (who was renowned for having a thousand yogī and a thousand yoginī disciples) in the south, with many tantric disciples like a heap of white rice, (3) Gyalse Rikpe Dorje (Zhenphen Thaye) in the west, with many monk meditator-disciples like a garden of red lotuses, and (4) Chöying Tobden Dorje (a great writer and propogator of Nyingthig teachings in Amdo, especially in Rekong) in the north, like an iron phurbu with many powerful tantric disciples.
Another way is: (1) Do Khyentse, (2) Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche, (3) Gyalse Rigpe Dorje, and (4) Kyebu Yeshe Dorje (Dola Jigme Kal-zang).
A third way is: (1) Do Khyentse, (2) Dzogchen Rinpoche, (3) Repa Tamtsik Dorje, and (4) Chöying Tobden Dorje.
Kongtrül Yönten Gyatso (1813–1899) writes,
To you who are known as the Radiance [Özer] of the East, the Nirmāṇakāya,
With four [disciple] yogīs, as prophesied by the Guru [Rinpoche],
Who acted for the benefit of beings, the wisdom incarnation of Murum (Tsepo),
Changchup Dorje [Dodrupchen], Lord of Sages, I pray.
The thirteen named Dorje are listed variously, but one way is: (1) Mingyur Namkhe Dorje, (2) Do Khyentse Yeshe Dorje, (3) Jigme Mikyö Dorje (Namkha Tsewang Choktrup, 1744–?) of Gyarong Gön, (4) Repa Tamtsik Dorje, (5) Chöying Tobden Dorje, (6) Jigme Palkyi Dorje, (7) Rigdzin Jampal Dorje of Zhechen, (8) Kyilung Thukchok Dorje of Golok, (9) Jigme Pawo Dorje, (10) Zhönu Yeshe Dorje (aka Dola Jigme Kalzang, (11) Wangda Dorje Palzang of Golok, (12) Rigdzin Palkyi Dorje of Troshül, and (13) Rolwe Dorje of Barchung.
Nyoshül Lungtok provides another way of categorizing the main disciples of Dodrupchen:
The chief of all the Khampa disciples of the great knowledge– holder [Jigme Lingpa] was Jigme Thrinle Özer, the Dodrupchen. Among Dodrupchen’s [principal] disciples were four lineage- holders named Dorje, six named Buddha, thirteen named Namkha, and one hundred maṇḍala-holders. The chief among the thirteen named Namkha is Mingyur Namkhe Dorje.
Jigme Gyalwe Nyuku and Jigme Ngotsar were both colleagues and disciples of Dodrupchen. Also, when Paltrül Rinpoche was little, Dodrupchen confirmed him as the tülku of Palge Lama, and with his fore-knowledge he said to Dola Jigme Kalzang: “I am bestowing the mind entrustment and aspirational transmission of the complete Longchen Nyingthig teachings upon him, with the name of Ogyen Jigme Chökyi Wangpo.”
As explained before, the Nyingthig lineages of King Ngawang Dargye and his disciple Zhapkar Tsoktruk Rangtröl came through Dodrupchen. Kuyang Lo-de,228 a disciple and teacher of Zhapkar, writes in a lineage prayer:
Künkhyen Jigme Lingpa,
To you I pray, please bestow your blessings.
Künzang Zhenphen, the Supreme among the Adepts,
Dharma King Ngaki Wangpo, and Omniscient Tsoktruk Rangtröl,
To you I pray, please bestow your blessings.
The Longchen Nyingthig lineage of Dharma Senge (d. 1890) also came through Dodrupchen, as Dharma Senge writes:
May the sacred aspirations of Rigdzin Jigme Lingpa be fulfilled.
May the sacred aspirations of Jigme Thrinle Özer be fulfilled.
May the sacred aspirations of Ngadak Yeshe Gyatso be fulfilled.
May the sacred aspirations of the root teacher be fulfilled.
Among Dodrupchen’s many incarnations were Jigme Phüntsok Jungne, the Second Dodrupchen (1824–1863), and Se Sherap Mebar (1829–1843),231 a son of Do Khyentse.
Source: Masters of Meditation and Miracles: Lives of the Great Buddhist Masters of India and Tibet (Buddhayana Series), Tulku Thondup