New Translation: ‘Eight Swirling Spears’ by Gotsangpa, with commentary by HE 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche

As an offering to the gurus on this Dakini Day, I publish for the first time, a new translation of a ‘song’ by Tibetan master, Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje ( rgod tshang pa mgon po rdo rje) (1189-1258), a series of short verses that he calls ‘Eight Swirling Spears’ (mdung skor brgyad); together with a compiled commentary on the text by HE 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche. The small booklet, with introduction and footnotes, can be downloaded for free, here: The Eight Swirling Spears in Space.

Gotsangpa Gonpo Dorje

Gotsangpa was a mahasiddha of the Drukpa Kagyu school, well known for his songs of realisation and said to have been an emanation of Milarepa. He founded the branch of the Drukpa Kagyu school known as the Upper Drukpa (stod ‘brug). His students included Orgyenpa Rinchen Pal[i], who is considered to also be a great Kalacakra lineage master. According to the Nyingma master, Patrul Rinpoche when he was asked who were the two greatest practitioners in Tibet, of Shantideva’s Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, he said one was Gotsangpa[ii].

Gotsangpa states this ‘song’ was composed at a place called ‘White Garuda’ (khyung dkar) [iii] between the years 1233-1236.  These ‘eight spears’ he refers to in the text, represent the view, meditation, conduct, fruition, samaya, compassion, dependent origination, and enlightened activity.   Gotsangpa sings about how each ‘spear’ has three aspects. When these three aspects are all present, then the spear swirls freely in space, without obstruction. Meaning that particular ‘spear’ is accomplished, complete and free. In English, we might say ‘flying free like a kite’.

This commentary on the text here by HE 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche is an edited compilation of two public teachings Rinpoche gave on this text. The first was a teaching he gave in English in three sessions in Germany in 2011. I have transcribed and edited that teaching and included it here. The second teaching is from the pre-Kagyu Monlam teachings Rinpoche gave in Bodh Gaya in January, 2019. The teaching in Bodh Gaya was in Tibetan and the translation of that produced here is largely based on the English oral translation by David Karma Chophel, a transcript produced by Michele Martin and my own notes and additions, where the Tibetan had not been translated and so on.

The only English translation I have seen of the root text verses was by Jim Scott[iv], a student and translator of Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist yogi master who regularly taught this text. HE 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche told me that he also received teachings on this text from Khenpo Rinpoche, when he was a student at Rumtek Monastery, Sikkim, India. I have done a new translation of the text, which is closer to the Tibetan original. I have also included the Tibetan script and phonetics for those who like to chant such songs in the Tibetan.

Out of respect for these two great masters who taught this text I have also included in this publication, two new translations of long-life prayers written by HH 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje. The first prayer is for 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and the second for Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche.

Any errors are all mine, a simple woman. May it be of benefit!

[i] Orgyenpa Rinchen Pel (o rgyan pa rin chen dpal) (1229 -1309) also known as Orgyen Nyendrub, was also a teacher of the third Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje. According to his biography: ‘For twelve years Orgyenpa studied Kālacakra, mainly in the traditions of Dro Lotsāwa (‘bro lo tsA ba) and Chak Lotsāwa (chag lo tsA ba), and the major Kagyu doctrines with Gotsangpa.’ Orgyenpa, who was also a disciple of Karma Pakshi, 2nd Karmapa Lama, became a great siddha who traveled to Bodhgaya, Jalandhar, Oddiyana and China. In Oddiyana he received teachings related to the Six Branch Yoga of the Kalachakra system known as the “Approach and Attainment of the Three Adamantine States” (rdo rje gsum gyi bsnyen sgrub) and, after returning to Tibet, founded the Orgyen Nyendrup tradition and wrote many works including a famous guide to the land of Oddiyana.  See https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Orgyenpa-Rinchen-Pel/2733

[ii] This story was told by HE Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche in some mind-training teachings he gave in Nepal in April, 2014. He became known as Gotsangpa after meditating for several years at a cave near the border of Nepal called Gotsangpa cave. See also Gotsangpa’s biography translated by Dan Martin at https://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Gotsangpa-Gonpo-Dorje/3759.

[iii] This place name where Gotsangpa states he composed this text is called khyung dkar. I asked Dan Martin, who translated Gotsangpa’s biography, when Gotsangpa was there and he helpfully sent me chronologies from the following source:  Rare Tibetan texts from Lahul: Narrative Accounts of Rgod tshang pa Mgon po rdo rje, Chos rgyal G.yu sna Legs pa’i don grub & Sras Gu ru Chos kyi dbang phyug. LMpj 015,893. SB 5097. Set X.  The biography contained here, on pp. 1-325, has no specific title, but the colophon title is as follows (318.2):  Chos rje rgod tshang ba’i stod pa nyi shu rtsa lnga’i sgo gnas stod pa rnam par thar pa yon tan kun bsal zhes bya ba. It states that he was at that place for three years until age 38: de nas khyung dkar dang spang dkar gnyis su lo gsum te so brgyad / 1233-1236.

There is also a similar passage in Rgod tshang pa Mgon po rdo rje, 1189-1258, The Collected Works of Rgod tshang pa Mgon po rdo rje, the founder of the Upper Tradition (Stod) of the ‘Brug pa Dkar brgyud pa, Tango Monastic Community (Thimphu 1981).  5 vols.   LMpj 014,572.  Set VIII.  This also states that Gotsangpa was there for three years (1233-1236), de nas shri ri khyung dkar du lo gsum.

[iv] http://www.ktgrinpoche.org/songs/eight-flashing-lances.

Sakya and Kālacakra: the Galo, Śākyaśrī and Vajrayogini lineages and contemporary master, Chogye Rinpoche

The Sakya and Kālacakra: Lineage teachers of many Jonang masters, including Dolpopa. Also, holders of the most direct lineage of Kālacakra in the world today, given directly by Vajrayogini, the Sakya have a strong history and connection to Kālacakra.

In this short blog post, I discuss the Kālacakra lineages of Sakya, contemporary masters and post some photos of my recent visit to the late Sakya Kālacakra master, Chogye Trichen Rinpoche’s monastery (Jamchen Lhakhang) in Boudha, Nepal and his small kudung stupa housed in his former personal residence there.

Considering that much has been written the tradition of Kālacakra in relation to HH 14th Dalai Lama and Gelugpa and more recently, the Jonang, I have sought to balance this out, by writing about the Kālacakra traditions and masters in Kagyu: see here and here,  and Nyingma: see here and here.

The Sakya Lineages

The Sakya lineage are also important holders in the history of the Kālacakra tradition. As Jetsun Tāranātha writes in One Hundred Blazing Lights, there are seventeen identifiable lineages of Kālacakra that were brought from India to Tibet by Indian mahasiddhas. These were compiled by the Jonang master Kunpang Chenpo; see post about these lineages here.

Two of these lineages, distinct from the Dro and Rwa lineages that are mainly practised today, are clearly identifiable Sakya lineages. These are:

  • The six-branch yoga of the Hevajra mother tantra that Galo [Ga Lotsāwa  (1105/1110 – 1198/1202) was a great siddha and translator who visited India; also known as Palchen Galo [‘Galo’ is an abbreviation of Ga Lotsāwa, or “the translator of the Ga clan”] gave to the great Sakyapa Lama Kunga Nyingpo.[1]
  • That which the great Kashmiri Pandit Śākyaśrī[2] also gave to the Lord of Dharma Sakya Panchen[3], distinguished by the Six Vajra Verses of the hearing lineage.

In addition, Kunkhyen Dolpopa (1292-1361), one of the main Jonang master and founders, who was also considered to be an accomplished practitioner of Kālacakra, got the original transmission and instructions on it from Sakya lineage masters. As his Treasury of Lives biography states:

In 1309 he traveled to Mustang (glo) to study the treatises on the vehicle of the perfections, epistemology, and abhidharma with the master Kyiton Jamyang Drakpa Gyeltsen (skyi ston ‘jam dbyangs grags pa rgyal mtshan, d.u.). Kyiton soon left Mustang and went to teach in the great monastery of Sakya (sa skya) in the Tsang region of Tibet, and Dolpopa followed him there in 1312.  Dolpopa received many teachings from Kyiton at Sakya, the most important of which were the Kālacakra Tantra, the Bodhisattva Trilogy (sems ‘grel skor gsum), the ten Sutras on the Buddha-nature (snying po’i mdo), the five Sutras of Definitive Meaning, and the Five Treatises of Maitreya. He became an expert in the Kālacakra tradition he received from Kyiton and served as his teaching assistant for several years. He also received teachings and initiations from other masters at Sakya, such as the Sakya throne-holder of the Khon (‘khon) family, Daknyi Chenpo Sangpo Pel (bdag nyid chen po bzang po dpal, 1262-1324). From Kunpang Drakpa Gyeltsen (kun spangs grags pa rgyal mtshan, d.u.) he again received the Vimalaprabhā commentary on the Kālacakra Tantra.

In terms of contemporary Sakya masters, there appears to be few today alive who practise or give empowerments of it. I attended a Kālacakra empowerment in London in 2012, given by HH 41st Sakya Trizin, who has given the empowerments several times in different countries.

The only other contemporary Sakya master who practised and gave empowerment of it was Chogye Trichen Rinpoche (bco brgyad khri chen) aka Ngawang Khyenrab Thupten Lekshé Gyatso (ngag dbang mkhyen rab thub bstan legs bshad rgya mtsho) (1920-2007), who was also the root lama of one of the main scholars and translators of Dolpopa and the Jonang lineage, Dr. Cyrus Stearns. Chogye Rinpoche was the head of the Tsarpa branch of the Sakya school. He was born in Tsang in 1920 and was recognized by the Thirteenth Dalai Lamas the reincarnation of the previous Chogye Rinpoche of the Nalendra Monastery. For a more extensive biography of Rinpoche see this blog post here.

Chogye Trichen Rinpoche

Chogye Rinpoche and the direct lineage of Kālacakra from Vajrayogini

According to biographies, the previous Chogye Trichen Rinpoches, Khyenrab Choje (1436–97), beheld the sustained vision of the female tantric deity Vajrayogini at Drak Yewa in central Tibet, and received extensive teachings and initiations directly from her. Two forms of Vajrayogini appeared out of the face of the rocks at Drak Yewa, one red in color and the other white, and they bestowed the Kālacakra initiation on Khyenrab Choje. When he asked if there was any proof of this, his attendant showed the master the kusha grass that Khyenrab Choje brought back with him from the initiation. It was unlike any kusha grass found in this world, with rainbow lights sparkling up and down the length of the dried blades of grass.

This direct lineage from Vajrayogini is the ‘shortest’, the most recent and direct, lineage of the Kālacakra empowerment and teachings that exists in this world. Not much as been written or studied about this lineage, I am thinking of writing another post soon about this lineage and transmission in more detail, if the materials are easily accessible.

In addition to being known as the emanation of Manjushri, Khyenrab Choje had previously been born as many of the Kings of Shambhala as well as numerous Buddhist masters of India. These are some indications of his unique relationship to the Kālacakra tradition.

Chogye Trichen Rinpoche is the holder of six different Kālacakra initiations, four of which, the Bulug, Jonang, Maitri-gyatsha, and Domjung, are contained within the Gyude Kuntu, the Collection of Tantras compiled by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and his disciple Loter Wangpo. Rinpoche has offered all six of these empowerments to Sakya Trizin, the head of the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism.

Rinpoche has given the Kālacakra initiation in Tibet, Mustang, Kathmandu, Malaysia, the United States, Taiwan, and Spain, and is widely regarded as a definitive authority on Kālacakra. In 1988 he traveled to the United States, giving the initiation and complete instructions in the practice of the six-branch Vajrayoga of Kālacakra according to the Jonangpa tradition in Boston.

Chogye Rinpoche has completed extensive retreat in the practice of Kālacakra, particularly of the six-branch yoga (sadangayoga) in the tradition of the Jonangpa school according to Jetsun Taranatha.  According to one report, when Chogye Rinpoche was young, one of his teachers dreamed that Rinpoche was the son of the King of Shambhala, the pure land that upholds the tradition of Kālacakra. (See biography of Chogye Trichen Rinpoche in “Parting from the Four Attachments”, Snow Lion Publications, 2003.)

Cyrus Stearns, who translated for Chogye Rinpoche when he was in the USA for the teachings on the six vajra-yogas, told me that:

As far as I know, the Kālacakra and six yogas (Sbyor drug) are not practiced at all in the Sakya tradition these days. Chogye Rinpoche was the only Sakya lama who taught the six yogas and had a special interest in that practice. Early six yogas texts from India and Tibet, some of the later ones such as Taranatha’s Mthong ldan, Rtags tshad yi ge, etc., and more recent works by Kongtrul are included in the Gdams ngag mdzod and Rgyud sde kun btus collections. Chogye Rinpoche was the main holder of the Rgyud sde kun btus collection, which he passed to HH the Sakya Trizin. Other lamas were also present when Rinpoche gave the empowerment and taught the Mthong ldan, and gave the lung for all the six yogas texts in the collection and the Kālacakra Tantra, and all the other related texts in the Kangyur.

I recently visited Chogye Trichen Rinpoche’s monastery in Boudha, Nepal and went up to see his small stupa and personal room at the monastery, which is normally closed to visitors.  I spoke to an old lama, Lama Wangdu (who according to Stearns was always with Rinpoche and was his personal assistant during the Kālacakra empowerments and teachings), who stated, confirming what Stearns said, that there were no other Sakya lamas who could give the transmission of the six yogas text in Nepal. The Kālacakra six-yogas tradition appears to be dying out within the Sakya lineage. The 42nd Sakya Trizin gave the Kālacakra empowerment last year in the USA.

Since Chogye Trichen Rinpoche passed away in 2007, his two assistants, Chogye Shabdrung and Gar Shabdrung have been working together.  The Chogye Shabdrung Rinpoche is now the 26th Chogye Trichen.

See below some photos I took of the stupa and room of Chogye Rinpoche at his monastery in Nepal.

The kundung stupa at Chogye Rinpoche’s former personal residence at his monastery in Boudha, Nepal.

Special thanks to Lordshri Gurung for his helpful suggestion to visit this monastery.

Photo below of Chogye Rinpoche with the 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje, HH 41st Sakya Trizin and HH 14th Dalai Lama.

 

[1] Sakyapa Lama Kunga Nyingpo (1092 – 1158) was the first Sakya throne holder and the founder of Sakya monastery.

[2] Śākyaśrī Bhadra (1127­- 1225), whose immense learning was incomparable even in India, was head of the famed dharma universities of Vikramaśilā  and Nalanda, and  who was continually blessed with visions of the mother of the buddhas, Arya Tara, was the last of the great Indian panditas to visit Tibet.

[3] Sakya Paṇḍita Künga Gyeltsen (chos rje sa skya paṇḍita kun dga’ rgyal mtshan (1182- 1251)) was a Tibetan spiritual leader and Buddhist scholar and the fourth of the Five Sakya Forefathers (sa skya gong ma lnga). Künga Gyeltsen is generally known simply as Sakya Paṇḍita, a title given to him in recognition of his scholarly achievements and knowledge of Sanskrit. He is considered to be the fourth Sakya Forefather and sixth Sakya Trizin and one of the most important figures in the Sakya lineage.

Noble Tara in the Jonang tradition: ‘The Four Mandala Offering to Definitive Tara’ and ‘The Eyes of Tara’ by Ngawang Lodro Gyatso

Here are new translations of two practice texts on Noble Tara from the Jonang tradition, composed by a twentieth-century Jonang master, Ngawang Lodro Gyatso.[i] These are the first English translations of either text. Tibetan script and phonetics are also included.

Wherever possible, I have approached the translations in a more literal, line by line version, that is helpful to the practitioner who wants to follow the meaning of the Tibetan  text and follow the order of each line in the stanza verse with the English translation.

The first text is called the Four Mandala Offering Ritual to Definitive Tara and her Retinue, that Swiftly Grants the Two Accomplishments.[ii]  It is regularly recited today by those in the Jonang tradition.  With various descriptions of the definitive and conventional twenty-one Taras, it is a beautiful and profound practice for both the generation and completion stages.

The second text is a short Tara sadhana called The Eyes of Tara.[iii]  It is a concise yet powerful homage to the ultimate primordial awareness eyes of Tara and also recommended by the author to be of benefit for the conventionally existent physical eyes too.

The translations are largely based on the oral instructions of elected Jonang head in exile, Chokyi Nangwa Rinpoche, who (in May 2017) kindly gave the oral transmission and instructions for both these texts, as well as for a commentary by Tāranātha on the definitive and conventional aspects, of the twenty-one Taras (which will be published online soon). These two texts were published in a book by the Kalacakra Six Yogas Monastery, Dharamsala, India in 2017.  I am now making these translations freely available for all online with this updated booklet version.

Download for free here. May it be of benefit! Sarva Mangalam!

 

This is a thangka of the eight-armed form of Tārā, one of the forms taken from Jonang Tāranātha’s famous compilation of yidam deities, known as the Ocean of Yidam Deities (Yi dam rgya mtsho’i sgrub thabs Rin chen ‘byung gnas). Among them are 42 aspects of Tārā.

 

[i] Khenpo Ngawang Lodro Dragpa (Ngag-dbang-blo-gros-grags-pa) (1920-1975) was a great Jonang master of the 20th Century. For more information on his life, see Treasury of Lives see: http://treasuryoflives.org/biographies/view/Ngawang-Lodro-Drakpa/8752

[ii]There are three extant editions of this text. First, Nge don dang drel wai je tsun ma tso khor mandala zhi yi chod pai thab drub nyi nyur tsol (nges don dang’brel ba’i rje btsun ma gtso ‘khor maN+Dal bzhi yis mchod pa’i thabs grub gnyis myur stsol) taken from the Zhel don chog drig (gnas mchog rdo rje gdan jo nang smon lam chen mo’i skabs kyi zhal ‘don phyogs bsgrigs rdzogs ldan chos kyi sgra dbyangs), published by the Jonang Well-Being Association (2010) a compilation of select writings by Jonang authors on various rituals, liturgies, and short practice texts used in Jonang monasteries. Compiled and arranged by Khenpo Ngawang Yonten Zangpo (1928-2002), who was the root lama of Khenpo Chokyi Nangwa Rinpoche.   I also checked this against two other editions, and the more accurate edition is from the Dzamthang block print edition nges don dang ‘brel ba’i rje btsun ma gtso ‘khor la maN+da+la bzhi yi sgo nas mchod pa ‘bul ba’i thabs grub gnyis myur stsol.

(TBRC Work: W19762; volume: 3520; pages: 251-263) and a pecha edition published in Beijing in 2002 (mi rig dpe krun khang) (TBRC Work: W23923; volume: 3528; pages: 665-679).

[iii]Drol mai mig gi khor lo’i thab (sgrol ma’i mig gi ‘khor lo’i thabs). The edition I have used for this translation is from the Dzamthang Samdrub Norbu Ling block print of Lodro Dragpa’s Collected Works (‘Dzam thang ba blo gros grags pa’i gsung ‘bum).

Translation: White Tara Commentary by HE 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche on root sadhana text by HE Tenga Rinpoche

I am happy to announce my new translation of a White Tara commentary by HE 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche on a root sadhana text by HE Tenga Rinpoche is now available for free download here: White Tara sadhana

Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche generously gave his feedback and comments on the translation after giving me the oral transmission and permission to translate it.  The booklet also includes a new English translation of the Seven Refuge Prayer to Tara (sgrol ma skyabs bdun ma) that is referred to in the commentary by Nyenpa Rinpoche and is recited regularly at Benchen Monastery.

Tenga Rinpoche was considered to be an accomplished master of White Tara and his kudung stupa at Benchen Monastery, Pharping (designed by HH 17th Karmapa) contains an exceptionally beautiful White Tara Mandala and Palace, surrounded by painted images of all the Taras on the inner walls of the stupa.

There is also  a Praise to the 21 Taras and White Tara chant by 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche available to purchase on Amazon.com here.

White Tara drawn by HH 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje
White Tara stupa constructed for the body and relics of Tenga Rinpoche, at Benchen Monastery, Pharping, Nepal. Designed by HH 17th Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje.
HH 17th Karmapa with HE 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and HE Tenga Rinpoche.

May it be of benefit and may all beings attain the wish-fulfilling wheel of White Tara!

Adele Tomlin, Copyright 2019, All rights reserved.

 

 

NEW: Colour and scale images of the Kālacakra Worldly Cosmos according to Jetsun Tāranātha and Bamda Gelek Gyatso

New and original computer-generated diagrams and English-language explanations of the Kālacakra worldly cosmos, especially useful during visualisations of the Mandala offering and generation stage practises are now available to view.

These new images have been designed according to the main commentaries by Tāranātha (Meaningful to See and One Hundred Blazing Lights) and Bamda Gelek Gyatso. The images, based on translations by Adele Tomlin and designed by Felipe Zabala, are now published in the new book ‘The Chariot that Transports to the Four Kayas‘ (LTWA, 2019).  This is the first time such graphic diagrams from the Jonang and Dro Kālacakra tradition, in proportion to the scale  and in accordance with the colours cited in these texts, have been published in a book format. The late Edward Henning created some 3D images of the Kālacakra worldly cosmos that can be seen on his website here.

The new colour, 2D images available in the book are:

FIGURE I: The worldly cosmos, a side view

FIGURE II: The worldly cosmos, a view from above

FIGURE III: An alternative image of the worldly cosmos, according to the tradition of Kunkhyen Chokle Namgyal

FIGURE IV:Mount Meru, the eighteen continents, oceans and mountains and the ‘great golden ground’

FIGURE V: The twelve continents on the ‘great golden ground’

FIGURE VI: The abodes of the six classes of sentient beings (including their divisions) in the worldly cosmos

FIGURE VII: An above view of the nine-heap Mandala offering within the Dro Kālacakra tradition

FIGURE VIII: The seed syllables for the guru yoga practice

These images will also be reproduced in the forthcoming publication of my English translations of ‘Meaningful to See’ and its Supplementary Commentary, ‘One Hundred Blazing Lights’ by Jetsun Tāranātha. These texts were translated according to the oral instructions of Jonang elected head in exile, Chokyi Nangwa Rinpoche.

I have reproduced FIGURE I and II here below as a taster of what is in the book. Many thanks to Felipe Zabala for creating these images for free.  Any mistakes or errors are all mine, please forgive them.  May these images and translations be of benefit and may the Kālacakra lineages and tradition flourish and bring peace, harmony and awakening in the world!

Kālacakra worldly cosmos according to the Jonang and Dro tradition –

from above, proportional to scale cited

 

side view, proportional to scale cited

 

For more on the meaning and measurement of the term ‘yojana’, please see the footnotes in the new book.  The publication is restricted access to those with the requisite empowerment and teachings from a qualified lama.