The Final Words of Orgyen Tendzin Norbu (1841–1900)


Orgyen Tendzin NorbuOrgyen Tendzin Norbu (o rgyan bstan ‘dzin nor bu, 1841–1900) is something of an elusive figure in recent Nyingma history. Until recently, not much was known about his life, and even his dates were a mystery; his own writings appear to have been lost, and his final testament, recorded in the few brief biographies available to us, is decidedly enigmatic.

And yet he was certainly important, especially in the Nyingma scholastic tradition, not least as an intermediary between Gyalse Shenpen Thayé (rgyal sras gzhan phan mtha’ yas, 1800–1855) and Khenpo Shenga (gzhan dga’) or Shenpen Nangwa (gzhan phan snang ba, 1871–1927). Shenpen Thayé was Orgyen Tendzin Norbu’s uncle and the founder of the famous Shri Singha college at Dzogchen Monastery, and Shenga, his most illustrious disciple, helped, through his writings and teaching, to inspire a flourishing of scholasticism in early twentieth century Kham. Yet Orgyen Tendzin Norbu was more than simply a human bridge linking these two more prominent lamas; having studied with Dza Patrul Rinpoche (rdza dpal sprul o rgyan chos kyi dbang po, 1808–1887) for thirty years, he became an acknowledged scholar, Dzogchen master and important teacher in his own right.

Biographical information on Orgyen Tendzin Norbu was hard to come by until recently, and his dates are still quite muddled in the various sources. Some, including TBRC, give 1851 as the year of his birth, but, as recently pointed out in a comment on the Treasury of Lives site (on the Khenpo Shenga article) this date no longer seems tenable. Tulku Thondup did not provide any specific dates in his biography in Masters of Meditation and Miracles (pp. 226–227), and noted simply that Orgyen Tendzin Norbu lived in “the 19th century.” Nyoshul Khenpo’s Dzogchen history (2005, p.482) offered 1827–1888, based on the idea that the master passed away at the age of sixty in the earth-rat year (1888–9). Yet, according to Tendzin Lungtok Nyima (2004, p.594) in his vast history of Dzogchen Monastery and its associates, while Orgyen Tendzin Norbu did indeed live for sixty years, he died not in the earth-rat, but in the iron-rat year, i.e., 1900–1. This date, which has since been reproduced in other historical works published in Tibet, seems for the moment to be the most reliable.

Following Tendzin Lungtok Nyima, then, we can say that Orgyen Tendzin Norbu was born in Gemang Kamchung in Dzachukha in the year of the iron-ox (1841). He entered the Shri Singha shedra at Dzogchen Monastery in the year of the water-ox (1853), and then took novice vows from his uncle, Shenpen Thayé, who died only two years later. He also received teachings from his uncle—one reason for doubting the birth date of 1851—and from the age of seventeen onwards, for the next thirty years, he followed his main teacher, Patrul Rinpoche, becoming one of his principal spiritual heirs. His other teachers included the Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche Mingyur Namkhai Dorje (mi ‘gyur nam mkha’i rdo rje, 1793–1870),  Khenpo Pema Vajra (padma badzra, 1805–1884), Lingtrul Thupten Gyaltsen Palzang (gling sprul thub bstan rgyal mtshan dpal bzang), Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (‘jam dbyangs mkhyen brtse’i dbang po, 1820–1892), Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa (mchog gyur bde chen gling pa, 1829–1870), Tsamtrul Kunzang Tekchok Dorje (mtshams sprul kun bzang theg mchog rdo rje), Drupchen Sönam Palge (grub chen bsod nams dpal dge), Gemang Chöpa Jigme Tapke (dge mang gcod pa ‘jigs med thabs mkhas), and Nyoshul Lungtok (smyo shul lung rtogs, 1829–1901/2). The full list of teachings Orgyen Tendzin Norbu received from these masters, but especially from Patrul, is strikingly long. Later he would say that while all his teachers were equal in terms of their qualities, in terms of kindness it was Patrul who was greatest. Tulku Thondup tells us that from 1883 Patrul refused to take on any further students, and directed any prospective newcomers to Orgyen Tendzin Norbu instead. This is, in fact, how Khenpo Shenga came to study with him. After Patrul’s death, it was Orgyen Tendzin Norbu who made the funeral arrangements and initially gathered and compiled his writings.

As a teacher, Orgyen Tendzin Norbu was tireless. While living the simple life of a hermit—Tendzin Lungtok Nyima tells us that he boiled his own tea until the age of 58—he passed on all that he had received. Like Patrul, he was especially fond of the Bodhicaryāvatāra, and is said to have taught it more than 200 times in all. In addition to the major scholarly treatises, he also taught grammar, poetics, medicine, astrology and the ritual sciences. And, of course, he taught Dzogchen extensively, especially through the writings of Longchen Rabjam and Jigme Lingpa.

When, in his sixtieth year, he suddenly became ill, his students reminded him that Patrul had lived to eighty (by Tibetan reckoning), and suggested that he should follow suit for the benefit of the teachings and beings. He eventually agreed to remain for at least another thirteen days, but assured them that his commitment towards the teachings and beings would continue until samsara itself was emptied. Tendzin Lungtok Nyima (594–595) tells us what happened next:

On one occasion [Orgyen Tendzin Norbu] said, “Now, wherever I look, throughout both day and night, these visions of buddha-forms (kāya) and light-spheres (bindu) are always present. Could they be empty forms? How amazing!” Another time, he said, “Last night, I dreamt of a person in fine ornaments who said, ‘I have come from the glorious mountain in Cāmara to collect you.’ But what substance can there be to such double delusion?” A few days later, while he was seated before his close disciples, staring into the sphere of the sky, with his right hand in the threatening gesture and his left hand resting in equanimity, he uttered the following:

I am Guru Padmākara of Oḍḍiyāna,
A buddha free from birth and death.
Awakening mind is impartial and unbiased,
Beyond labels of the eight stages, the four pairs.

And with these final words, he passed directly to the glorious mountain of Cāmara.[1]

At first glance, what is most striking about this somewhat enigmatic testament is the bold assertion (“the lion’s roar”, as Jigme Tenpai Nyima calls it) contained in the first two lines. But perhaps equally remarkable is the reference to the Abhidharma categories at the end, as it seems so dramatically different in tone. This final line apparently struck Richard Barron, who translated the passage in Nyoshul Khenpo’s Dzogchen history (p. 486), as so incongruous that he rendered it as “free of the concepts of the four or eight extremes”. Most readers would presumably take that as a reference to the familiar tetralemma of Mādhyamika philosophy (existence, non-existence, both and neither) and the eight limits or extremes (mtha’ brgyad) mentioned in the homage of Nāgārjuna’s Mūlamadhyamakakārikā (“anirodham anutpādam anucchedam aśaśvatam/ anekārtham anānārtham anāgamam anirgamam//”), i.e., birth and cessation, permanence and annihilation, singularity and plurality, coming and going. Clearly, however, this is not what is intended. In fact, the line concerns the four categories of stream-enterer (rgyun du zhugs pa), once-returner (lan gcig phyir ’ong ba), non-returner (lan gcig phyir mi ’ong ba) and arhat (dgra bcom pa), each of which can be further divided into the emerging (zhugs pa) and the established (gnas pa) to give eight categories in total. (See “skye bu zung bzhi’am gang zag ya brgyad” in Nor brang o rgyan 2008, vol.1, 493.)

Any lingering doubt about this point is resolved by turning to a certain text within the Dzogchen corpus of the Third Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Jigme Tenpai Nyima (’Jigs med bstan pa’i nyi ma, 1865–1926). Advice in Response to the Request of the Faithful, Diligent and Intelligent Deshul Drakden (Dad brtson blo ldan ’das shul grags ldan ngor gdams pa) (vol. 2, 21–25), reproduced and translated in full below, is none other than a clarification of Orgyen Tendzin Norbu’s final words. And it makes it quite clear that the final line is indeed a reference to the eight types of hīnayāna fruition, serving to establish Dzogchen’s superiority over lesser approaches.

Jigme Tenpai Nyima represents Orgyen Tendzin Norbu’s final words as more than just a personal statement or declaration. He shows them to be an instruction—the ultimate instruction, even—for the moment of death. More prosaically, we could say that the testament aptly reflects Orgyen Tendzin Norbu’s life, dedicated as it was not only to study and practice, but above all, even in death, to teaching others.

Text and Translation

༄༅། །དད་བརྩོན་བློ་ལྡན་འདས་ཤུལ་གྲགས་ལྡན་ངོར་གདམས་པ།

༄༅། །བླ་མ་ལ་ཕྱག་འཚལ་ལོ། །འདིར་བདག་ཅག་གི་བླ་མ་དམ་པ་ཤེས་བྱ་རིག་པའི་གནས་ལྔ་ལ་སྦྱངས་ཤིང་། རྫོགས་པ་ཆེན་པོའི་སྙིང་ཐིག་གི་ལམ་ནས་གྲོལ་བ་བརྙེས་པ་ཨོ་རྒྱན་བསྟན་འཛིན་ནོར་བུའི་ཞལ་སྔ་ནས་ཀྱིས་འདའ་ཁར་ཞལ་ཆེམས་སུ་སྩལ་བའི་ཚིགས་བཅད། །ང་ཨོ་རྒྱན་གུ་རུ་པདྨ་འབྱུང་། །སྐྱེ་འཆི་བྲལ་བའི་སངས་རྒྱས་ཡིན། །བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་ལ་ཕྱོགས་རིས་མེད། །ཟུང་བཞི་ཡ་བརྒྱད་ཀྱི་མིང་འདོགས་བྲལ། །ཞེས་པ་འདིའི་དོན་རགས་པ་ཙམ་ཞིག་བཀྲལ་ན། སྤྱིར་བཅོམ་ལྡན་འདས་ཀྱིས་ཆོས་ཀྱི་འཁོར་ལོ་བསྐོར་བ་ཐམས་ཅད་འདུལ་བྱ་སྐྱེ་ཤི་བར་དོའི་འཁྲུལ་འཁོར་གྱིས་ཉམ་ཐག་པ་ལས་སྐྱོབ་པའི་ཆེད་དུ་གསུངས་པ་ཁོ་ན་ཡིན་ཞིང་། དེ་ངོ་མ་ཤེས་པར་རིག་རྩལ་འཁྲུལ་པའི་སྣང་ཆར་ཤར་ཏེ། བདག་ཉིད་གཅིག་པ་དང་། ལྷན་ཅིག་སྐྱེས་པ་དང་། ཀུན་ཏུ་བཏགས་པ་སྟེ་མ་རིག་པ་གསུམ་གྱི་རིམ་པས་གཟུང་འཛིན་གྱི་རྟོག་པ་ལུ་གུ་རྒྱུད་ཀྱི་ཕྲེང་བ་མུ་མེད་དུ་མཆེད། དེའི་རྗེས་སུ་ཞེན་ནས་ལས་ཉོན་སྡུག་བསྔལ་གྱི་འཁོར་ལོ་བར་མཚམས་མེད་པར་འཇུག་པ་ཡིན་པས། ངོ་བོའི་བཞུགས་ཚུལ་འཁྲུལ་པའི་དྲི་མས་མ་གོས་པ་བཞིན་དུ་ངོ་འཕྲོད་ནས་བསྒོམས་པ་ཉིད་ཀྱི་སྐྱེས་འཆིའི་འཁྲུལ་པ་རང་ལོག་ཏུ་འགྲོ་བར་བཞེད་པ་ཡིན་ལ། ངོ་བོའི་བཞུགས་ཚུལ་དེའང་རྟོག་གེ་དང་བཅོས་མའི་སེམས་འཛིན་གྱིས་མི་མཐོང་གི། དོན་བརྒྱུད་ཀྱི་ཕ་ཕོགས་ཐོབ་པའི་བླ་མ་མཚན་ཉིད་དང་ལྡན་པ་ལས་སྨིན་གྲོལ་གྱི་བདུད་རྩི་བླངས་ཏེ། དེ་འདྲའི་བླ་མ་དེ་ཉིད་ཨོ་རྒྱན་རྡོ་རྗེ་འཆང་དང་དབྱེར་མེད་དུ་མཐོང་བའི་མོས་གུས་རྣལ་འབྱོར་དུ་བྱས་པས་རྒྱུད་བྱིན་གྱིས་བརླབས་ཏེ་ཐུགས་ཡིད་དབྱེར་མི་ཕྱེད་པར་འདྲེས་ནས་རང་སེམས་གདོད་མའི་གནས་ལུགས་བཅོས་སླད་དང་བྲལ་བ་འདི་ཀུན་བཟང་དོན་གྱི་འཆི་མེད་པདྨ་འབྱུང་གནས་སུ་ངོ་ཤེས། ཐག་ཆོད། བརྟན་པ་ཐོབ། དེ་ཉིད་གློ་བུར་རྒྱུ་རྐྱེན་གྱིས་མ་བསྐྱེད་པས་སྐྱེ་བ་དང་བྲལ། བྲི་གང་འཕོ་འགྱུར་མི་དམིགས་པས་འཆི་བ་དང་བྲལ་ཏེ། སྐྱེ་འཆི་མེད་པའི་དངོས་གྲུབ་ཀྱི་ཕམ་ཕབ་རང་མལ་ནས་རྙེད་ཅིང་། སངས་རྒྱས་གཞན་དུ་མི་འཚོལ་བའི་གདེང་ཆེན་ཐོབ་པ་ན། ང་ཨོ་རྒྱན་གུ་རུ་པདྨ་འབྱུང་། །སྐྱེ་འཆི་བྲལ་བའི་སངས་རྒྱས་ཡིན། །ཞེས་སེང་གེའི་སྒྲ་སྒྲོག་གོ། དེ་ལྟ་བུའི་རིག་པ་བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་ཀྱི་བཞུགས་ཚུལ་མངོན་དུ་གྱུར་པ་ན། སྐྱེ་འཆིའི་ཡུལ་སྣང་ཕྱིར་སྤངས། དེར་ཞེན་གྱི་འཛིན་སེམས་ནང་དུ་བཅད། སྤྲོས་པའི་འཁོར་བ་རྒྱབ་ཏུ་བོར། སྤྲོས་མེད་མྱང་འདས་ལ་དམིགས་གཏད་བཅོལ་བའི་སྤང་བླང་རེ་དོགས་མང་པོས་རྟེན་མེད་ཀྱི་རིག་པ་ཁོལ་བུར་འདོན་དུ་མེད་ཀྱི། ཇི་ལྟར་སྣང་ཡང་རང་སྣང་། གང་ལྟར་ཤར་ཡང་རང་རྩལ། འཁོར་འདས་གཟུང་འཛིན་དུ་བཏགས་པ་ཐམས་ཅད་ཕྱོགས་དང་རིས་མེད་པར་རིག་པའི་ཡོ་ལང་དུ་ཤར་ཏེ། རྩལ་གཞི་ཐོག་ཏུ་ཐིམ། གཞི་རང་མལ་དུ་བཙན་ས་ཟིན་ནས། དང་པོའི་གཞི་ལས་འཕགས་ཏེ། རྒྱ་ཆད་ཕྱོགས་ལྷུང་དང་བྲལ་བའི་འོད་གསལ་གཞོན་ནུ་བུམ་པ་སྐུའི་དབྱིངས་སུ་མངོན་པར་བྱང་ཆུབ་པར་འགྱུར་བ་ལ། བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་ལ་ཕྱོགས་རིས་མེད། ཅེས་བྱའོ། །དེའི་ཕྱིར་འཁྲུལ་སྣང་ལ་སྐྱོན་དུ་བལྟ་སྟེ། ནང་གི་རྣལ་འབྱོར་ཉི་ཚེ་བ་ལ་བསླབ་པས་ཁམས་གསུམ་གྱི་མཐོང་སྤང་སྤངས་ཀྱང་འདོད་པའི་སྒོམ་སྤང་མ་སྤངས་པ་དང་། དེ་སྤོང་ཕྱིར་དུ་ཞུགས་པ་དང་། འདོད་ཉོན་ཕལ་ཆེར་སྤངས་པ་དང་། དེ་མཐའ་དག་སྤངས་ཀྱང་གོང་མའི་ཉོན་མོངས་ཟད་པར་མ་སྤངས་པས་སྐྱེ་འཆིའི་སྡུག་བསྔལ་མེད་དུ་མ་ལོག་པ་སོགས་ཀྱི་སྒོ་ནས་འབྲས་བུ་ཐ་དད་དུ་བཞག་པའི་ཟུང་བཞི་ཡ་བརྒྱད་ལྟ་བུའི་རྣམ་བཞག་ཐེག་པ་འདི་ལ་བརྩིར་མེད་དེ། ཀ་དག་རང་སྣང་རིས་མེད་གདལ་བ་ཆེན་པོའི་དགོངས་ཀློང་ནས་ས་ལམ་ཆིག་ཆོད་དུ་བགྲོད་པའི་ཕྱིར་ཏེ། འདི་ལ་ཞིབ་ཆ་དགོས་སོ། །དོན་འདིའི་ཕྱིར། ཟུང་བཞི་ཡ་བརྒྱད་ཀྱི་མིང་འདོགས་བྲལ། །ཞེས་གསུངས་ཏེ། འདིས་ནི་ཐེག་པ་འོག་མ་གཞན་རྣམས་ལས་འཕགས་པ་ཡང་མཚོན་ནོ། །དོན་ཧྲིལ་གྱིས་དྲིལ་ན། བླ་མ་དང་རང་སེམས་གཉིས་མེད་དུ་བསྲེས་ཏེ་རིག་སྟོང་གཉུག་མའི་ཀློང་དུ་བསམ་བཞག་དང་བྲལ་བར་མཉམ་པར་བཞག་ལ། འཆི་ཀ་དང་པོར་བར་དོའི་འཇིགས་སྐྲག་འཁྲུལ་སྣང་གང་གིས་ཀྱང་རིག་པ་རང་མལ་ནས་མི་གཡོ་བར་བཙན་ས་བཟུང་བ་ནི་རྐང་པ་དང་པོ་གསུམ་གྱི་སྙིང་པོའི་དོན་ཏེ། ཕྱོགས་འདིའི་འཆི་ཀ་མའི་མན་ངག་མཐར་ཐུག་པ་ཡིན་ཞིང་། འདི་ལ་རབ་ཆོས་སྐུ་ལྟ་བ་རྒྱས་འདེབས་ཀྱི་འཕོ་བ་ཞེས་ཀྱང་གྲགས་སོ། །དེའང་ད་ལྟ་ནས་སྐྱོང་ཚུལ་དང་། འཆི་དུས་སུ་ལས་ལ་སྦྱར་ཚུལ་སོགས་ཤེས་པར་བྱའོ། །རྐང་པ་ཐ་མས་ནི་ལམ་འདི་རྩོལ་བཅས་ཀྱི་ཐེག་པ་གཞན་ལས་འཕགས་པའི་ཆེ་བ་སྟོན་ཏེ། རང་གི་ལམ་ལ་ངེས་པ་བརྟན་པར་བྱ་བའི་དོན་ཏོ། །ཡང་ན་རྐང་པ་དང་པོ་གཉིས་ཀྱིས། ལམ་འདིའི་འཆི་མེད་སྒྲུབ་ཚུལ་བསྟན་པ་ན། དེ་ཙམ་གྱིས་ཐེག་པའི་རྩེ་མོར་མི་འགྱུར་ཏེ། ཉན་རང་ལའང་སྐྱེ་འཆིའི་སྡུག་བསྔལ་རྒྱུན་ཆད་པའི་ལམ་ཡོད་པའི་ཕྱིར་རོ་སྙམ་པ་ལ། ལན་རྐང་པ་ཐ་མ་དང་། དེའི་རྒྱུ་མཚན་སྒྲུབ་པ་ལ་རྐང་པ་གསུམ་པ་སྦྱར་ནའང་རུང་ངོ་། །ཞེས་པའང་དད་བརྩོན་བློ་ལྡན་འདས་ཤུལ་གྲགས་ལྡན་ནས་ནན་གྱིས་བསྐུལ་བའི་ངོར། བསྟན་པའི་ཉི་མས་ས་བྱ་དབོ་ཟླ་བའི་དམར་ཕྱོགས་ཀྱི་བཟང་པོ་གསུམ་པར་གང་དྲན་མྱུར་པོར་བྲིས་པ་དགེ་བར་གྱུར་ཅིག། །།

Homage to the guru!

Our noble teacher, Orgyen Tendzin Norbu, trained in the five sciences and gained liberation through the path of the heart-essence of the Great Perfection. At the moment of his passing, he spoke the following verse as his final testament:

I am Guru Padmākara of Oḍḍiyāna,
A buddha free from birth and death.
Awakening mind is impartial and unbiased,
Beyond labels of the eight stages, the four pairs.

If I were to elaborate a little on the meaning of this:

Generally, all the various turnings of the wheel of Dharma by the Lord Buddha were offered purely in order to protect disciples from the miserable routine of birth, death and the intermediate state. Among these teachings, for the ultimate tradition of the heart-essence, which is the vajra pinnacle, there is no delusion in the condition of great primordial purity, the original ground, and yet, not recognising this, the appearances of delusion, which are the creative energy of rigpa, arise. Through the three types of ignorance – single identity, co-emergent and imputational – thoughts involving dualistic grasping develop, one after another, in an endless chain. Then, through grasping, we are drawn into the endless cycle of suffering caused by karma and mental afflictions.

Through recognising and becoming familiar with the actual nature of the essence, which is untainted by confusion, the delusions of birth and death are naturally averted. Yet we can not see the nature of this essence through intellectual speculation (rtog ge) or through a mind that is contrived. Instead, we must receive the nectar of ripening empowerments and liberating instructions from an authentic guru who has inherited the actual transmission. Then, by cultivating the devotion of seeing the guru as inseparable from the vajradhara of Oḍḍiyāna, our mind will be inspired with blessings and the guru’s wisdom mind will merge inseparably with our own mind. Though this, we will recognise the the mind’s natural condition, without contrivance or contamination, as the all-perfect, deathless Padmākara himself, then decide on that and gain stability. As this recognition is not generated through temporary causes and conditions, it is free from birth. And as it is not seen to increase or decrease or undergo transition or change, it is free from death. Thus, the attainment of birthlessness and deathlessness is bestowed naturally, in its own place, and when we gain the confidence of not seeking buddhahood elsewhere, there can be the lion’s roar proclaiming:

I am Guru Padmākara of Oḍḍiyāna,
A buddha free from birth and death.

When the nature of this awareness or awakening mind manifests, the appearances of birth and death are cast aside, the mind of fixated clinging is cut from within, and the cycle of conceptualisation is left behind.

Hopes and fears, or notions of adopting and avoiding, all focused on a nirvāṇa that is beyond conceptual elaboration, do not bring about any fragmentation of pure awareness, which is itself unsupported. Rather, whatever appears is its self-appearance, and whatever arises does so as its self-expression. All that might be labelled as subjective or objective throughout saṃsāra and nirvāṇa simply arises as the evolving manifestation of this pure awareness that is beyond partiality or bias. And these expressions dissolve within the ground. Once the stronghold of the ground is seized in its own place, this is superior to the original ground, as there is awakening within the sphere of the dharmakāya, the youthful vase body, clear light beyond confinement or restriction. Thus, the testament says:

Awakening mind is impartial and unbiased.

Therefore, in this vehicle there is no system of positing the fruition as something separate, as there is in the eight stages of the four pairs. According to that approach, we regard delusory appearances as faults and train in a limited form of yoga, through which it is possible to overcome the ‘seeing discards’ of the three realms, but not the ‘meditation discards’ of the desire realm; or else, to enter that realm in order to discard them; or to discard most of the desire-realm afflictions; or to discard them all but not totally overcome the afflictions related to the two upper realms, with the result that the sufferings of birth and death are still not entirely overcome, and so on. Here, by contrast, out of the expanse of realisation of great, all-pervasive primordial purity, which is self-appearing and unbiased, all the grounds and paths are traversed at once. This point must be spelled out in detail, so the testament says:

Beyond labels of the eight stages, the four pairs.

This also shows how this is superior to the lower vehicles.

The meaning in a nutshell, then, is as follows:

Merging your own mind inseparably with the guru’s wisdom, settle evenly (without deliberately ‘settling’) in the genuine expanse of rigpa-emptiness. Then, at death, none of the terrifying delusory appearances of the intermediate state will cause awareness to stray from its own place. This ‘seizing of the stronghold’ is the essential message of the first three lines. It is the ultimate instruction for the moment of death within this tradition, and is also known as ‘the ultimate dharmakāya transference through sealing with the view’. For this, there is much to understand, such as the way to sustain it right now, as well as the way to apply it at the time of death.

The final line shows how this path is superior to the other vehicles, all of which require effort; it means that certainty in one’s own path must be stable.

To put it another way:

The first two lines show the means of achieving deathlessness through this path. Still, some might object that this alone would not make this the pinnacle of vehicles, because even the śrāvakas and pratyekabuddhas have a path that puts a stop to the sufferings of birth and death. In that case, it would suffice to offer the final line as a response and the third line as providing the reason.

In response to persistent requests from the faithful, diligent and intelligent Deshul Drakden, Tenpai Nyima quickly wrote down whatever came to mind on the third excellent day of the waning phase” (i.e., 27th) of the Phālguna month (dbo zla) in the earth bird year (1909).

Translated by Adam Pearcey, 2015.

1. Bstan ‘dzin lung rtogs nyi ma 2004, 594: yang skabs shig da ni gang du bltas kyang nyin [595] mtshan kun tu sku dang thig les snang ba dang ‘bral mi shes pa stong gzugs lta bu ci yin na mtshar che gsungs/ yang mdang sum rnga yab dpal ri nas ‘ong khyed kyi bsu ma yin zer ba’i mi rgyan cha bzang po can zhig kyang rmi lam du rmis kyang nying ‘khrul la lta ci yod gsungs/ de nas zhag ‘ga’ song ba’i nyin zhig zhal slob rnams mdun du bzhugs bzhin pa’i skabs su spyan mkha’ dbyings su gzigs nas phyag g.yas sdigs mdzub dang g.yon mnyam bzhag mdzad de/ zhal nas/ nga o rgyan gu ru padma ‘byung/ skye ‘chi bral ba’i sangs rgyas yin/ byang chub sems la phyogs ris med/ zung bzhi ya brgyad kyi ming ‘dogs bral/ zhes ‘das rjes zhal chems dang bcas rnga yab dpal gyi ri bo mngon par gshegs so.


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