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Great Ancient Masters

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      Jampa in Nalanda India                                                                               foto : jampa
 
Great Ancient Masters ( many of whom taught in Nalanda )

The wisdom teachings of the Mahayana are contained in three primary sets of writings. The first and oldest of these are the Prajnaparamita texts, which date to the beginning of the current era. These wisdom texts go beyond conventional understanding and speak directly to one’s innate enlightened nature. They are the first pointing out texts –transmitting the transcendent wisdom that sees the emptiness of all conceptualized views of reality.

Later, Nargarjuna applied the insights of the Prajnaparamita to classical Indian philosophy and through his articulation of the nature of emptiness beautifully and impeccably dismantled prevailing scholastic views on the nature of reality, establishing the primacy of the inexpressible as the heart of the Buddhist path. In the Mahayana tradition Nargarjuna is seen as the primary spokesperson of the Pranjaparamita literature.

These teachings were united with the meditative and devotional traditions of Mahayana by a brilliant set of teachers from Gandhara, Asanga and Vasubandu, whose works are the culmination of the early Mahayana movement. The school that held this transmission tradition was Yogacara, which became the leading philosophical school in India during the 3rd to 5th centuries, at the same time that Neoplatonism was the leading philosophical school in the Classical Western World. Yogacara teachings still form the philosophical core of the great Buddhist contemplative lineages such as Zen, Mahamudra and Dzogchen. In a similar manner Neoplatonism underlines Western contemplative lineages.

Yogacara translates as “practitioners of yoga” emphasizing the school’s commitment to meditation as the essential nature of the Buddhist path. It is also known as the Consciousness Only School for their central teaching that all reality is a display of consciousness.

Asanga 

According to the Tibetan tradition, Asanga was born in Purusapura, the capital of Gandhara, of a Brahmin woman who was herself a considerable adept in the teachings of Buddhism and who taught him the “eighteen sciences” which he mastered easily. He became a monk and for five years applied himself diligently, memorizing one hundred thousand verses of dharma each year and correctly understanding their meaning.

He then left the monastery to practice the Arya Maitreya Sadhana in a cave at the foot of a mountain. For three years, not a single good sign appeared, and he became depressed and decided to leave his retreat. Emerging from his cave he noticed a bird’s nest by the mountain where the rock had become worn just by the brushing of the bird’s wing as it flew back and forth. Realizing his perseverance was weak, he returned to his cave to practice. For three more years he meditated, but again not a single good sign appeared. He became discouraged and left again. This time he saw a rock beside the road that was slowly disintegrating because of the trickle of single drops of water. Inspired by this, he returned and practiced another three years.

When again no signs appeared, he left his retreat a third time. He encountered an old man who was rubbing a piece of iron with a smooth cotton cloth. “I am just finishing this needle,” the man said to Asanga. “I have already made those over there” and pointed to small pile of needles lying nearby. Asanga thought, “If such effort is put into a mundane task such as this, my effort so far has been merely a trifle.”

He returned and meditated for another three years. Although he had by now meditated for 12 years on Maitreya, he still had no signs of favor. He became extremely despondent and walked away from his cave. After awhile he came across a half-dead dog lying beside the road, infested with maggots, crying out in pain. Asanga thought, “This dog will die if these worms are not removed, but if I try to lift them out with my hand, I will crush them.” So using his tongue so as not to hurt them, and cutting off some of his own flesh for them to live in, he bent down to remove them. At that moment the dog vanished and Maitreya appeared, showering cascades of light in all directions.

Asanga burst into tears and cried, “Ah, my sole teacher and refuge, all those years I made so much effort in my practice, exerting myself in a hundred different ways, but I saw nothing. Why has the rain and the might of the ocean come only now when tormented by pain, I am no longer thirsting?” Maitreya replied, “In truth, I was in your presence constantly, yet because of karmic obscuration you were unable to see me. However, your practice has purified your karma and removed your obstacles. Now by the force of your great compassion you are able to meet me. To test my words, put me on you shoulders for others to see and carry me across the city.”

Asanga was overjoyed. Lifting Maitreya onto his shoulders carried him into town, yet no one saw Maitreya. One old woman saw Asanga was carrying a dead dog and that brought her endless good fortune. A faithful servant saw Maitreya’s feet and found himself in a state of samadhi which granted him all the siddhis. Asanga himself realized the samadhi called “Continuum of Reality”. “What is your desire now?” Maitreya asked him. “To revive the teachings of the Mahayana,” Asanga replied. “Well then, hold onto the end of my robe.” Asanga did this and together they ascended to the pure land of Tushita where they stayed for fifty years. Here Asanga mastered the teachings of the Mahayana and received the famous Five Texts of Maitreya, each of which opens a different door of samadhi.

Dedicated to actualizing these teachings, Asanga returned to the earth and built a small temple in a forest. At first only a few students came to learn teachings from him, but gradually the fame of his doctrine spread and the Yogacara School was established. He became the abbot of Nalanda and lived to be well over 100, but always had a youthful look, with no gray hair or wrinkles.

He compiled many important Mahayana works including what has come to be known as The Five Texts of Maitreya. These include the Abhisamayalamkara (Ornament of Clear Comprehension), the  Mahanaya Sutralankara (Ornament of the Mahayana Sutras),  the Madhyanta-vibhanga (Discourse on the Middle between the Extremes), the Dharma-dharmata-vibhaga, and the Uttaratantra (The Peerless Continuum). His Mahayana-samparigraha (Compendium of the Mahayana), Abhidarma-samuccaya (Compendium of Higher Doctrine), and Yogacharabhumi-shastra (Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice) are also famous.

According to the Tibetan historian Taranatha, Tantric teachings were handed down in secret through the Yogacara lineage from the time of Asanga. In the Tibetan canon are several Tantric works ascribed to Asanga including a Maitreya Sadhana and a Prajna-Paramita Sadhana.

Vasubandu

The cofounder of Yogacara, Vasubandu, is traditionally said to be the younger brother of Asanga. He was also born in Purusapura in Gandhara and became a monk of the Sarvastivadin school. He went to Kashmir to study their teachings including their renown Abhidharma works. He also was said to possess a complete understanding of the Tripitaka and the tenets of all the Hinayana schools.

Vasubandu wrote Seven Branches of Metaphysics, an encyclopedic work clarifying the main points of teachings of the early Arhats, The Four Oral Traditions of Vinaya on Buddhist discipline, and the most famous compendium of Abhidharma teachings in the Buddhist tradition, the Abhidharma-kosa and a commentary to it called the Abhidharma-kosa-Bhayasa. The Kosa describes the Buddhist path to enlightenment by categorizing and analyzing the basic factors of experience called dharmas.

Impressie uit Nalanda hd from jampa gyatso on Vimeo.

Already famous for his intellectual understanding of Buddhism, Vañsubandu came to Nalanda University and was converted to the Mahayana by Asanga. According to a traditional account, Asanga summoned Vasubandu under the pretext that he was dying. When Vasubandu arrived and asked the cause of his illness, Asanga replied, “I have a serious disease of the heart which arose on account of you.” Vasubandu asked, “How did it arise on account of me?” Asanga replied, “Because you do not believe in the Mahayana and are forever attacking and criticizing it. For this wickedness you will be reborn in a miserable existence. Grieving for you has brought me close to death.” Vasubandu was surprised at this and asked Asanga to expound the Mahayana to him. Upon doing so he became convinced of the truth of the Mahayana and asked his brother what he could do to overcome the negative karma he had accumulated. Asanga answered, “Since your skillful and eloquent speech against the Mahayana earned you this negative karma, you must now use your skillful and eloquent speech to propound the Mahayana.”

De ruines van Nalanda , Bihar , India                                                                                                                           foto : jampa

Vasubandu went on to write many works which systematized the Consciousness Only teachings including On the Three Natures, the Twenty Verses, and the Thirty Verses, perhaps the most famous of the Consciousness Only texts. He also wrote devotional hymns and commentaries on Mahayana texts, including works of Asanga. He is also credited with being the founder of Pure Land Buddhism.

According to one Tibetan account,

Vasubandu was in the habit of reciting daily the Perfection of Wisdom in 8000 Verses. Once a year he would sit in an iron cauldron filled with sesame oil and for fifteen consecutive days and nights would recite five hundred Hinayana sutras and five hundred Mahayana sutras. After Asanga passed away, he became abbot of Nalanda. Every day he taught 20 classes on various Mahayana Sutras and constantly met in debate and defeated the false views of other teachers. For over 100 years he traveled in India and Nepal establishing the dharma and teaching the Mahayana doctrine.

Many of his debates were with Samyka teachers, a school like Yogacara based on yogic experience that flourished at that time. Other debates were with proponents of yoga as reflected in Patanjali’s famous sutras.

After a long life, Vasubandu eventually left this world to reside in the Tushita heaven with Maitreya.

Stirmati

Stirmati was one of the famous disciples of Vasubandu. He was born in the southern Indian city of Dandakaranya of low caste parents, and studied with Vasubandu from age seven. He wrote commentaries on Abhidharma and the works of Vasubandu, including the Trimsikabhasya (Commentary on The Thirty Verses).

Dignaga

Dignaga, another disciple of Vasubandu, was one of the most respected Indian philosophers. Born in the southern Indian city of Simhavakta to a Brahmin family, he became a monk with a Hinayana teacher, but dissatisfied with the Hinayana teachings went in search of further instruction and met Vasubandu.

Every day he would recite 500 Mahayana sutras. From a tantric master who was an emanation of Heruka he received the empowerment and the “Method of Actualization” of Manjushri. By practicing this, he received a vision of Manjushri, and from then on received teachings from Manjushri whenever he wished.

Dignaga is known as the founder of Buddhist logic. He wrote over a hundred works on logic and other matters including Arya Prajnaparamita -samgraha-karika (A Verse Compendium of the Noble Perfection of Wisdom), and the Pramanasamuccaya (The Synthesis of All Reasoning). The later was such a profound and timely text that according to the Tibetans when Dignaga wrote the salutation to the work, “Homage to him who is Logic personified…”, the earth shook, thunder and lightning flashed, and the legs of all the heretical teachers in the vicinity became as stiff as wood. Using his skills at logic, he became famous as a debater. He was also famous for his miracles and had many disciples. He traveled throughout India establishing Mahayana, and spent many years in Kashmir. He completed his life meditating in a remote cave in the jungles of Odivisha.

Gunaprabha

Gunaprabha, one of Vasubandu’s closest disciples, is famous for his mastery of Vinaya. He was born in Mathura of a Brahmin family. He studied the Vedic teachings, and the Hinayana teachings in addition to receiving Mahayana teachings from Vasubandu.

According to the Tibetan accounts, he recited the Hundred Thousand Vinayas daily and resided in a monastery in Mathura called Adrapuri that had 5000 monks, all of whom kept the Vinaya rules perfectly.

He composed the Vinaya-Sutra, Basic Teachings of the Vinaya and One Hundred Actions. His Aphorisms of Discipline are one of the “five great books” that form the basis for the twenty year study program in Tibetan monastic colleges.

Vimuktasena

Vimuktasena was another close disciple of Vasubandu. He is famous for his mastery of the Prajna-Paramita sutras. He was born in Jvala-guha in south-central India. He was a devotee of Maitreya and received both advice and teachings from the celestial Buddha.

He wrote a text called Twenty Thousand Lights on the Prajna-Paramitas. Towards the end of his life he became the spiritual guide of a king in South India and supervised twenty-four temples where he widely taught the Prajna-Paramita Sutras.

Dharmapala

A disciple of Dignaga, Dharmapala became the head of Nalanda after his teacher died. After that he went to Bodhgaya and became abbot of the Mahabodhi Monastery. He died at the age of 32. He wrote a number of original works and commentaries most of which have been lost.

Dharmakirti

Dharmakirti was born in the southern Indian town of Cudamani to a Brahmin family. At an early age he became learned in the arts, the teachings of the vedas, medicine, grammar, and the tenets of the various sages. Then becoming inspired by the teachings of Buddha and the lineage of Pure Consciousness, he took ordination as a monk from Ararya Dharmpala and studied the Tripitaka from beginning to end. Every day he recited 500 different sutras and mantras.

He became a great adept at logic, equal to the master Dignaga himself, and wrote a famous commentary on Dignaga’s Synthesis of All Reasoning. He also wrote Seven Treatises of Logic. His works became the basis for debate training in the Tibetan monasteries. He himself was said to be such an excellent debater that the population of Indian sages of other schools was quite depleted by his efforts, since after losing they had to convert to Buddhism or throw themselves into the Ganges.

Silabhadra

A disciple of Dharmapala, Silabhadra was born to a royal Brahmin family in the East Indian city of Samatata. He was conversant with the teachings of all sects, famous for his mastery of Buddhist sutras and commentaries, and became head of Nalanda where 104 years old, he taught the Chinese Master, Hsuan-Tsang, the Consciousness Only doctrine through his exposition of Asanga’s Treatise on the Stages of Yoga Practice.

Paramartha

Paramartha was one of the great translators of Buddhist texts into Chinese, Paramartha was already a master in India when he traveled to China in 546 at the age of 47. At the request of the emperor of China, he settled in the capital and began the translation of texts. Political instability in China forced him to move quite often, but he was still able to translate the important works of the Yogacara lineage into Chinese including the Abhidharmakosa, the Mahayana-Samparigraha, and various works of Vasubandu. He is also famous for his translation of the Diamond Sutra. All together, Paramartha translated sixty-four works in 278 volumes. His translations made the later success of Yogacara possible in China and inspired Hsuan-Tsang several generations later to travel to India for additional texts and commentaries.

Hsuan-Tsang

Hsuan-Tsang in de Hsuan-Tsang Memorial Hall in Nalanda, India foto : Jampa

 

Hsuan-Tsang was a remarkable spiritual pilgrim who became one of the most famous Chinese Masters. The son of a poor Chinese official, he left home at the age of 13 to study Buddhism. According to a traditional account,

During those early years of study, if there was a Dharma Master lecturing on a Buddhist text, no matter who the Dharma Master was or how far away the lecture was being held, he went, whether it was a Sutra lecture, a Shastra lecture or a Vinaya lecture. He listened to them all. Wind and rain couldn’t keep him away from lectures on the Tripitaka, to the point that he even forgot to be hungry. He just took the Buddhadharma as his food and drink. He did this for five years and then took the Complete Precepts.

In 629 at the age of 27, having been a monk for fifteen years, he secretly left China and made the dangerous journey across the silk road to India. Sixteen years later, having learned Sanskrit and studied with the best Indian teachers, he returned with an incredible collection of 657 Indian texts, a number of statues of the Buddha and various relics. He was acclaimed by the Emperor who supported him the remainder of his life so he could translate the texts and convey the Mahayana teachings to China. On his deathbed he dedicated his merit so that all present would be born again among the inner circle of Maitreya in Tushita Heaven

De reis van Hsuan-Tsang in de Hsuan-Tsang Memorial Hall Nalanda India                                  foto : Jampa

His Cheng Wei Shih Lun (Treatise on the Attainment of Consciousness Only), a compendium outlining Yogacara doctrine, became the standard text for the Consciousness Only schools of China and Japan.

He translated many other Sanskrit texts into Chinese including the Perfection of Wisdom Sutras, which filled 600 volumes, Asanga’s Treatise on the States of Yoga Practice, the Master of Lapis Lazuli Radiance Tathagata which established the practice of the Medicine Buddha in China and the Far East.

Yogacara Masters After Hsuan-Tsang

Kuei-Chi (638-682 A.D.) was Hsuan-Tsang’s most prominent Chinese student. He systematized the Yogacara teaching and established Yogacara as a distinct school in China, called Fa-hsiang. He also wrote commentaries to Hsuan-Tsang’s Yogacara works including the Fa-yuan-i-lin-chang and the Wei-shih-shu-chi.

Hsuan-Tsang also had several notable Japanese and Korean students. Dosho (628-700) studied with Hsuan-Tsang for ten years sharing a room with Kuei-Chi. When he left to go back to Japan he was given sutras, treatises and Yogacara commentaries to help him establish Yogacara there which he did, teaching at Bwangoji monastery. His most famous student is Gyogi (667-748). A Korean student Chiho studied with Hsuan-Tsang and also went to Japan to teach. His pupil Gembo went back to China in 716 and was instructed by Chih-Chou, a pupil of Kuei-Chi. Another early Japanese student who studied with Hsuan-Tsang was Chitsu. “Thus,” as Junjiro Takakusu wrote in his Essentials of Buddhist Philosophy in 1947, “Japan received the orthodox teaching sacrosanct from first-hand authorities of the Indian and Chinese Yogacara School and with the Japanese even now it is the chief subject of Buddhist learning.”

Hosso, the Japanese name for Yogacara, thrived during the Nara period and today several prominent ancient temples are still functioning. Yogacara proper in India and China did not fare so well. The Yogacara School in India became part of a Yogacara-Madhyamika School which thrived in the last centuries before Buddhism disappeared in India under Islamic persecution. This school became influential in Tibet through Santaraksita, one of the first Buddhist Masters to teach in Tibet, and today all Tibetan sects have a strong Yogacara component. This is especially visible in the more contemplative Kagyu and Nyingma practice traditions. Several Kagyu teachers have supervised English translations of Asanga’s works in recent years.

An example of the respect Tibetan teachers have for Yogacara is this appreciation taken from a dharma talk by the Venerable Traleg Rinpoche,

People have generally ignored how Yogacara philosophy influenced Buddhist tantra and its development. Even though it’s quite patent in the writings of Buddhist tantra… Yogacara philosophy itself developed as a reaction against too much theorization. It came to emphasize individual experience and practice,hence the name Yogacara, meaning practitioners of yoga… You could not theorize about Yogacara philosophy without meditating. In fact, you could not be a Yogacara philosopher unless you meditate. When we look at the writings of Yogacara philosophy, we discover many tantric concepts mentioned.

The Fa-hsiang School suffered under the general persecution of Buddhism in China during the middle of the 9th century and gradually disappeared. However, its works are still preserved, and it was revived in the 20th century by several Masters including Ou-Yang Ching-Wu (1871-1943), Abbot Taiuhso (1889-1947, and Hsin Shih-Li (1883-1968), who wrote A New Doctrine of Consciousness Only in 1944. This revival led to the Hsuan-Tsang’s Cheng Wei Shih Lun being translated into English for the first time in 1973 by Wei Tat, a member of a Hong Kong Yogacara group.

Perhaps the greatest success of the Yogacara teachings was in Gandhara where it Third Turning was revealed. There Yogacara became the foundation for Dzogchen which flourishes today in Tibet as the summit of Buddhist philosophy. That is no small honor for the remarkable work the early Yogacara Masters accomplished in clarifying the essence of the Mahayana path.

 

Khandro-la Namsel Dronma

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KHANDRO-LA – BIOGRAPHY

(Excerpted from an interview with Khadro-la conducted by Ven Roger Kunsang, and featured in
Mandala magazine, August 2008)

Ven. Roger Kunsang: Can you tell me why you left Tibet?
“I didn’t have the intention, and I didn’t have the money to travel. I followed a sign that came
in my dreams. There was a bus blowing its horn indicating its departure, and until I got on the
bus I was unaware of where I was heading. I learnt from the other people on that bus that they
were going to Lhasa and thence to Shigatse. A couple of days into the journey I learnt that
they were also planning to go to Mount Kailash.
“One day, while we had stopped our journey at Shigatse, I was circumambulating Tashi
Lhunpo Monastery when I came across an elderly man dressed in an Indian cloth doti. This
complete stranger gave me 2000 gormo. He asked me to sit beside him, and begun to tell me
many unusual stories. He told me that India was just beyond this mountain, and that I should
be meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and many other lamas. He kept urging me to
head for India – and at the time it didn’t feel at all strange, although when I recall it now it
seems amazing to me.”
There was much hardship. I had no mission of my own and was just following the pilgrims. I
don’t remember very clearly how long the journey was, but I did fifteen koras round Mount
Kailash and due to my unusual actions and the words that I was speaking, rumors were going
around that I was a dakini. People began to line up to see me, even seeking blessings from
me. It was very tiring for me to deal with the crowds, but a very kind monk from a nearby
monastery took good care of me with food and drink. He even organized a better system for
the people who came to see me for blessings, etc. Many of those people expressed their wish
to go to India with me. One night, quite suddenly and without any discussion, I made up my
mind to leave for India and so a man who was our guide led seventeen of us from the bus
along the trail that leads to the border. He wasn’t very experienced and it took seventeen days
to reach Kathmandu in Nepal. It should have taken only seven days. We were in no man’s
land, and as there were no real paths or people to ask, it was impossible to tell whether we
were even out of Tibet. We had to just follow the signs I got in my dreams. When we were
confused about the way, I was instructed to go in the direction where there appeared a circle
of light. Maybe this was the blessing of the Dalai Lama or Palden Lhamo.
“Sometimes we had to walk all day without any food or drink, and sometimes we had to walk
all through the night. We were not prepared for such a long journey.
“When I arrived in Nepal, I fell seriously ill with food poisoning and could not continue with
my companions towards India. I had to stay at the reception center in Kathmandu, vomiting
blood, which made the staff suspicious that I had a contagious disease. I was left to sleep
outside the building in a field. I was so weak that I couldn’t change position. When I needed
to move, they used long sticks to push me back and forth because they were afraid to touch
me with their hands. As my condition worsened, the staff thought I wouldn’t survive, and so

khandronamseldronma

asked me if I wanted to leave a last message for my family and asked for the address to deliver it.

“So I made a request for monks from a monastery to do prayers after I died and to take my
body for cremation to a peak which I later found out is the holy Nagarjuna hill where Buddha
had spoken the sutra called Langru Lungten.
“I asked them to take my urine in a bottle and give it to whomever they met first at the
Boudhanath Stupa entrance. By now I was semi-conscious, but they were kind enough to do
this favor for me. The person who took my urine met a man at the gate who turned out to be a
Tibetan physician. He tested my urine and diagnosed that I had been poisoned with meat,
prescribed some medicine and even sent me some blessing pills. My health improved
dramatically and I had many good dreams. When I recovered, I was sent to the Dharamsala
reception center, together with some other newly-arrived people.
“I arrived in Dharamsala not long after some monks from my village had quarreled with the
staff of the center – and so they had a negative impression of anyone who came from the
same area. Consequently I, too, became the victim. Since I was quite young I was asked
whether I would like to join school or did I want to have some skills training. My reply was
quite straightforward and honest. I said I had no interest in going to school and neither did I
want to learn something else. When I was back at home I always had the very strong will to
serve good meditators, and so I used to collect firewood and deliver water for the meditators
who lived around my village. I didn’t even know that Tibet was occupied by the Chinese and
that that was why Tibetans went into exile. I was not tortured by the Chinese and I didn’t
have any lack of food or clothing. My only wish was to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and
as I have a problem of going into craziness sometimes, I merely wanted to know from His
Holiness whether that was good or bad. That was all I wanted, otherwise I just wanted to
return to my own home.”
“I couldn’t get an audience with His Holiness because I was accused of having a contagious
disease which might infect him. Some said I was mad. Some even said I ought to be leaving
the center or be sent to an insane asylum. I was even banned from public audiences for
several months. Instead, I circumambulated the Dalai Lama’s palace every morning. One day,
I heard that His Holiness was coming back home, so I hid beside the road to greet him. As his
car passed by Namgyal Monastery, I saw a very bright light radiating on the front window of
the car and inside I saw him with many hands around his shoulders! It was the first time I had
ever seen His Holiness and I just jumped towards the car to prostrate, and I fell unconscious,
almost under the car.
“I was carried back to the center by a man from my village and again the shower of scolding
began. But I think a very strong change happened in me by seeing His Holiness and I never
got angry with the staff. I thought, ‘Oh! They have to take care of so many people and of
course they get upset sometimes.’
“Despite many requests, I still wasn’t given an audience with His Holiness. At a public
teaching I managed to find a seat. As he came in escorted by security personnel, I was possessed by the protector and the guards took me away from the courtyard where the
teachings were to take place, telling me to stay at the bottom of the stairs. I felt so sad to think
what evil karma I must have created in the past that now I can’t even see His Holiness.
“The teaching began with the recitation of the Heart Sutra. I could hear His Holiness
chanting, and as he was saying “no eyes, no nose,” etc., I started to have a very strange
feeling. By the time he was saying “form is empty and emptiness is form,” I felt rays of light
were showering on me, entering from the crown and filling my whole body. I felt lifted up in
the air. I had a strong feeling of joy and sentiment.
“As time went by, I came to know some meditators and came in contact with some great
lamas such as Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche and Khalkha Jetsun Dampa. I received blessing water
from them, and they, too, tried many ways to make my contact with His Holiness possible.
But no progress was made, and so I finally made up my mind to return to Tibet. I was
exceptionally sad at not being able to fulfill some of the tasks the old man in Shigatse has
asked me to do. There were some important things that I should do, such as making a long
life offering and some other secret thing, and time for all those activities was running out.
“I informed Kirti Tsenshab Rinpoche of my decision, but he insisted that I did not return. He
said that he saw in me something more important than just an oracle; he could see some
specialness in me. He said I would be very helpful to His Holiness, and advised me to remain
in Dharamsala. ‘I myself will make the golden bridge between you and His Holiness.’ As I
listened to him, I wondered why such a great scholar and great lama said such comments
about me. Soon after, and out of the blue, I was approved for an audience, together with other
new arrivals.
“There were a lot of us waiting anxiously. I saw His Holiness coming toward us and I saw
him with so much light radiating and many arms, just as I had seen him before. As soon as I
stood up to make prostrations, again I was possessed and taken away by the security guards.
Perhaps I was kicked or punched, because I found bruises on my body when I regained
consciousness.
“But after His Holiness granted an audience to all the other people, he asked to bring up the
lady oracle and so I was taken to him. As soon as I went to him, I grabbed at his feet and
went unconscious again. When I came back to normal His Holiness asked me about my home
and many other questions, but I was just left speechless. No words came out – I was too
overjoyed to say anything. Later I was able to tell him all that the old man had told me in
Shigatse and he heard all about me and my problems. I was confirmed as the oracle of the
protector and His Holiness asked me not to go back to Tibet. His Holiness granted me
different empowerments and instructions, and I begun to do the retreats that he advised me to
do.”
“A house was given to me by the private office within Namgyal Monastery. It’s the same
house I live in today. It was during that time when the teacher in the Dialectic School was
murdered by the group of Shugden worshipers, and there were rumors that I too would be
assassinated. The monks of Namgyal Monastery were very concerned about my safety. That’s how we became close. Actually, I tried to refuse their protection. I told them that if my
fate is to be killed, then nothing can make it not happen, but that if my karma is not to die, the
Shugden worshippers cannot harm me. The monks didn’t listen to me and they continuously
took good care of me.
“As I was very weak physically, His Holiness contacted Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche and I was
sent to France for treatment. At that time I came to know Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Indeed,
because of my poor health I came to know so many people!
“During my retreat and practice there have been some good signs and some positive
outcomes too, but I like to say that all of these are just hallucinations. Whatever good
happens is no more than the blessing of His Holiness. I myself am no better than the poorest
being among the rest.
“About two years ago, His Holiness advised me that whenever the opportunity comes, I
should give teachings or any kind of service that I can deliver to those who are in need. But I
know I have nothing to offer to others. To tell you honestly, in my mind I have a very strong
belief that the essence of life is only to have the realization of bodhichitta and emptiness.
Though it is difficult to gain, my primary wish is to achieve indestructible faith in these two
before I die. If I cannot help people to generate these things, our meeting is just a waste of
time. Other than that, I am the poorest by inner, outer and secret perspectives. The best side
of me is only that I met the best Dharma, best practice and the best lamas.”
Ven. Roger: When did you first feel that you were a dakini?
K: “I always think I am not a dakini. I don’t know who I am. Some lamas say I am Khandro
Yeshe Tsogyal, some say I am Vajrayogini, and others say I am Tara. It might be their own
pure appearances. I myself think I am nothing special.
“When I was young some people said I was mad. Some said I was dakini. I don’t know. I
have no doubt that I have very strong karmic imprints from the past, because I have been very
dear to His Holiness and many other high lamas from Tibet and outside of Tibet. Some lamas
from Tibet, whom I never knew, sent me love, respect, good wishes and often offerings and
praises. Another reason is that sometimes the words to express the view of emptiness come
out of my mouth automatically – something I have never heard and studied before – but I
can’t remember later what I said.”