When Volker asked me to help him research the material he had gathered on Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, it was like a dream come true. For me researching the life and times of this master of masters, has been pure guru yoga, opening my heart and mind to the stream of wisdom that has come to us, down the centuries, through the lives and teachings, the precious pith instructions, the secret know-how of these masters. They did not live in a peaceful Shangri-la. They lived in a world that was just as rent by political turmoil, economic hardships and occasional violence as besets us today, yet it is in this world that they practiced the dharma and gained realization, which they passed on to their disciples in this sacred chain of bodhisattva commitment, that now falls to us.
Of course, as a student of Sogyal Rinpoche, I have long been aware of the significance of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, but it was not until I visited Lerab Ling for the 1992 three month retreat, that I made a direct spiritual connection to him.
I remember very clearly how each morning, after breakfast I would visit the shrine in the large white tent where we were receiving the teachings. There, in front of the photo taken of Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, sitting in Dzogchen meditation posture at the Samdrup Palace in Lhasa, I would pray to him: ‘Thank you for nurturing this precious lama as your gift to us, his western students. May the gaze in your eyes be born in my mind’, and then I would go back to my retreat room, and continue my practice.
It was not until many, many years later, in 2004, that I found myself traveling to Tibet with the young Amnyi Trulchung Rinpoche. His root master is Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok, the other incarnation of Tertön Sogyal, who had such a dramatic impact on the revival of the study and practice of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet, following the dark years of the Cultural Revolution.
I traveled with him through East Tibet, then across to Lhasa and down to Samye, Chimpu and Mindroling, before going overland from Lhasa to Kathmandu. I thought the dharma had largely died out in Tibet, but this journey to Tibet taught me that it still lived on, thriving in the gars established by Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok and Achuk Rinpoche in East Tibet and quietly coming to life in many, many small monasteries and hermitages off the beaten track. On this journey I drank in the spirit of the Khampa people, the fierce and courageous humour in the face of great difficulty, and I longed to know more and more about the history of my lineage masters and the world that had shaped them. I sat and chanted with the nuns at Chimpu, before climbing up to spend some time in the very cave where Jigme Lingpa received the wisdom nectar of the Longchen Nyingtik in his visions of Longchenpa, to which Sogyal Rinpoche has been introducing me over the many years that I have been his student.
Understanding the life and times of Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö is a key that can help us understand this spiritual heritage in all the cultural richness and social complexity that has shaped Tibet and China, giving us some basis for understanding how the dharma might once again become an important spiritual resource for the peoples of modern China, fast becoming one of the great economic and political powers of our world.
Barbara, aka Grey Fox
EARTH DAY OBSERVED AT SAKYONG CHISOPANI JHS
5 days ago