Wylie:Zhi byed snga phyi bar gsum gyi khrid yig rnams phyogs gcig tu bsdebs pa bdud rtsi'i nying khu
zhi byed snga phyi bar gsum gyi khrid yig rnams phyogs gcig tu bsdebs pa bdud rtsi'i nying khu
Distilled Elixir: A Unified Collection of the Guidebooks of the Early, Middle, and Later Pacification
Minling Lochen Dharmashrī, the Great Translator of Mindroling Monastery, was introduced at the beginning of the section of empowerments, all of which he composed. This final piece by him, also completed at Orgyen Mindroling Monastery, is a masterly commentary on all the practices found within the diverse praxis of Pacification of Suffering. Basing his work on various source texts that are not all available now, Dharmashrī attempts to portray a cohesive picture of the vast array of instructions that Dampa Sangye passed on to his disciples over the course of his many sojourns in Tibet. By its nature, this piece provides a kind of outline of the lines of teachings. It is almost certainly the source for Jamgön Kongtrul’s summary of this practice lineage in The Treasury of Knowledge. Even so, we can see by the outline—which I have extracted and added—that there was much more, and that Dharmashrī had to make choices on what aspects to explain, although this may have been dictated by availability
Though the number of visits Dampa Sangye made to Tibet is said to be somewhere between three and seven, depending on the writer, the generally accepted format for organizing his teachings is a division into three: the first or early transmission, the intermediary or middle transmission, and the later or last transmission. The middle transmission actually consists of three separate sets of lineage teachings. So in fact we have here five transmissions described by Dharmashrī.
The first or early transmission (bka’ babs dang po/snga ma) consists of the teachings that Dampa passed on to his disciple from Kashmir, Jñānaguhya. Dharmashrī’s colophon to this section reports that it is based on the Cycles of Three Lamps (sGron ma skor gsum, often misspelled as sgrol ma gsum, leading to the confusing translation of “Three [or Nine] Cycles of Tārā”). Though there are nine “lamps” in the Tengyur attributed to Kamalashrī (Dampa’s Indian name), this trilogy refers to the Lamps of Conduct, Path, and Mind (Toh. 2321–2323), which are said to contain, respectively, the teachings of the vinaya, abhidharma, and sutra. This, however, is not at all evident in those very brief lamps, nor in the commentary here. After the traditional preliminaries, the main practice consists of five instructions with the distinctive names Sky-Like, Vajra-Like, Lotus-Like, Elixir-Like, and WheelLike. Each of these instructions represents the condensed meaning of the teachings by eleven of Dampa Sangye’s fifty-five adept gurus. These five sets represent teachings on madhyamaka-like logic, vital-wind practices of the father tantras, bliss practices of the mother tantras, mahāmudrā instructions, and ḍākinī symbols, respectively. In other words, a very full and complete path, packed with esoteric techniques.
The three middle transmissions (bka’ babs bar ma) are known as Ma, So, and Kam (rma so skam), based on the principal recipients’ place or clan names. Dampa Sangye gave Magom Chökyi Sherap (b. 1054) the teachings of awakening mind, the discourses, scattered teachings, and oral instructions. They consist of two sets of sixteen points each: the practical guides that introduce awareness and vital points that cut off misconceptions. Again, an altogether complete path covering all aspects of meditation techniques. Lochen Dharmashrī states that it is based on teachings by “the great sugata Rok,” and although there are several lineage holders bearing the name Rok, the assumption is that it refers to Rok Bande Sherap Özer (1166–1244), the most important Rok in Pacification.
The second system was given to Sochung Gendun Bar (1062–1128), who met the above Magom at an early age. This again is said to consist of the instructions of the fifty-five (or -four) male and female adepts and is described as “instructions on the naked perception of awareness.” After the preliminary practices, the main parts are divided according to the classic graded-path formula of teachings for superior, average, and lesser practitioners. Here there are multiple methodologies for recognizing pure awareness and introducing the nature of mind. The use of special yogic gazes is emphasized, as elsewhere in Dampa’s teachings, and there are more unusual esoteric techniques. The concluding topics include useful advice for resolving obstacles in practice, such as dullness and agitation. A set of eight “clinchers,” or topics on applying practice in specific circumstances, is also presented. Dharmashrī mentions two names as his source for these instructions: Palden Sönam of Dingri and Khyapdak Paljor Puntsok. Though both of these names appear in the later lineage (rather than the middle), the exact source books have not been located.
The third system was transmitted to Kamtön Yeshe Gyaltsen (d. 1119) and is called “the guide to the essential meaning of the perfection of wisdom.” Unlike the previous two, this instruction is short and basic, and entirely exoteric. It consists of practices commonly considered preliminaries, with nothing really touching on the perfection of wisdom. Dharmashrī explains that the main guidance manuals of this tradition have been lost, with only the preliminaries remaining. He states very generally that he has composed it based on “the old writings.”
The later or last transmission (bka’ babs phyi ma) was passed on to the four “gatekeeper yogins,” most particularly to Bodhisattva Kunga (1062–1124), regarded as Pa Dampa Sangye’s principal disciple and heir. It is to this person and his immediate successors that we owe the preservation of many of Dampa’s teachings. These were transmitted in three main instructions: “The White Guide, which concentrates solely on mind training on the path; the Red Guide, which concerns the practice of five or three paths; and the Black Guide, which produces realization of the science of letters.” But it is only the Red Guide that is explained here and wherever else the later transmission is discussed. There is little to be found on the White and Black Guides. The Red Guide describes a detailed process whereby a practitioner passes through five or three spiritual paths. These paths have the familiar names from the Indian commentarial tradition, but with distinctive formulas and explanations. They are (1) mind training on the path of accumulation; (2) austerities on the path of application; (3) subsequent conduct on the path of seeing; (4) equal taste on the path of meditation; and (5) freedom from action on the ultimate path. Unlike their Indian counterparts, these “paths” seem to describe a more achievable progression that a determined individual might actually experience if she followed these instructions. Jamgön Kongtrul confirms the uniqueness of this formulation: “This path did not occur previously in India and Tibet but is the special teaching of Dampa Rinpoche.”
Lochen Dharmashrī’s explanation of the Red Guide follows closely on an early text by All-Knowing Sönam Pal (1217–1277), a revised version of which is the next text in this volume. But he has apparently added a supplemental section with some interesting techniques to deal with problems that may arise in practice, ways to enhance experience by vital points, and instructions on utilizing devotion and mantra.
- 2 Jamgön Kongtrul, Treasury of Knowledge, Book 8, Part 4: Esoteric Instructions, p. 270.
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[[peoplefields::smin gling lo chen d+harma shrI སྨིན་གླིང་ལོ་ཆེན་དྷརྨ་ཤྲཱི་ dge slong rmongs pa d+harma shrI dge slong rmongs pa d+harma shrI དགེ་སློང་རྨོངས་པ་དྷརྨ་ཤྲཱི་ smin gling lo chen d+harma shrI smin gling lo chen d+harma shrI | ]]
- Translator's notes
- Note from Ringu Tulku
- All the Instructions On Earlier, Middle and Later Shi-Je Teachings Collected Together Called "The Quintessence of Nectar".
- Notes on the text itself
- Notes on authorship
- Notes on individuals related to text
- Other notes
- Genre from Richard Barron's Catalog
- Instruction manual
- Genre from dkar chag
- gdams khrid
- BDRC Link
- BDRC Content Information
- No note on contents
- Other Translations
- Commentary(s) of this Text in the DNZ
- Text(s) in the DNZ of which this is a commentary
- Related Western Publications
- Related Tibetan Publications
Information about Unicode Tibetan and the digitization of this text
As the only available unicode Tibetan text at the time, Nitartha International's version of the Paro Edition of the gdams ngag mdzod is provided here. However, note that it has not been thoroughly edited and that there may also be mistakes introduced through the conversion process. Eventually we will provide a fully edited version of the entire Shechen Edition, entered and edited multiple times by Pulahari Monastery in Nepal, but as of fall 2017 that project has not been finished. Note that the folio numbers that appear throughout were added by Nitartha Input Center at the time of input.