My father’s ancestral lineage was Horsog Déma. My family clan is the Jya-rig Tse’phel Chawo – the Bird Tribe, which is descended from the lineage Cha-rig A-sé’i. The tribe inhabited Sangzhung Ma-yo Gaden in the province of Nagchu Dzong. Magyo Gaden was the province where the powerful Minag Tobchen lived. He was the chieftain of Lhothri Dé-gu, and known as ‘the King of Tigers and Leopards’. During the time when Mon and Ling were at war, the Mi-nak Tobchen manifested as the brave Pawo Kulhathok .
After his victory in battle, Ngar-gyod-ling boasted that he was the Protector Dorje Bérnakchen of Druga province. On hearing of this, Kulhathok rode forth to vanquish him, depending solely upon the prophecy of his yidam and Lama. He dispensed with weaponry and protection – girding himself with neither sword, armour, nor helmet. Pawo Kulhathok was thus transformed by means of a celestial being called Nyènchen Thanglha, and manifested wearing the black hat and triangular sleeved gown of Dorje Bérnakchen and a meteorite iron phurba inserted into his belt sash. Nyèchen Thanglha is the Protector of my village.
In the Southern continent of Dzambu Ling there were four powerfully athletic male ones: the Chinese Black Ha Yang Tobchen, the Yellow Mongolian Takmar Tobchen, the Northerner Takgig Mi-nak Tobchen, and Mi-chen Tobchen – Nyènchen Thanglha from Dru-dag province.
Regarding Nyènchen Thanglha, Drigung Rig’dzin Chödrak wrote his invocation
of the Protectors:
‘In the centre of the fragrant celestial realm of the northern direction – external phenomena spontaneously formed a four-peak snowy mountain, and inner phenomena manifested a treasure trove of precious jewels. There lives the obedient wealthy lord Nyènchen Thanglha, Great Protector; Jowo Shakyamuni, and female celestial beings of fragrance: purify the warriors of Mon.’
Also Trülshik Pema Düd’dül wrote:
‘The heart-son of the great celestial being Tshangpa, holder of the treasure of the trans-dimensional water being’s crown, Great Liberator Nyènchen Thanglha – purify the vast assembly of Mon.’
In the iron horse year (1929) of the 16th rab jung, before dawn on the 25th day of the 5th
month – I was born as a son to my mother Dung’dok and my father A-Dok. One month
birth Dzigar Potrül Rinpoche arrived in our village, and he was asked to give me a name.
Dzigar Potrül Rinpoche was happy with this request, and said:
This boy is the
incarnation of Charong Drüpchen and named me Künzang Dorje. Dzigar Potrül
Rinpoche had named thirteen children ‘Dorje’ and of these thirteen he said:
Dorje is the foremost.
When I was five years old and engaged in play, I saw a blue goat the size of a mountain. I
was completely terrified. I called to my mother, who came immediately to my side, but when she
came, the goat was no longer visible. Later, some Lamas said:
This is the goat that the
protector Damchen Dorje Legpa rides.
When I was seven years of age and engaged in play, I beheld a beautiful girl wearing dress
completely ornamented with turquoise and coral. In the right hand she brandished a grigug, and
in the left hand she held a skull cup. She also carried a lasso. I told my mother and father of
this and they in turn told a Lama. The Lama said:
This was probably Palden Lhamo or a
When I was nine years old, I saw a red man the size of a mountain, stepping from one
mountain peak to another. I told my mother and relatives. When asked, the Lama told us:
is the Protector Zangs Ri-tèn Dam Rolpa Kyadun but my mother thought it was a bad
omen to see demons.
When I was fifteen years old, I went to the major teaching centre of Gomang to begin my studies. I resided for seven years in the presence of Ngawang Palden and Gendün Yeshé, with whom I studied logic and philosophy. After that I received the ’Four Mind Turnings’ teachings from the supreme ’Drigung Bu-lob Balog Trülku Rinpoche. I requested oral transmission from the supreme ’Drigung Khandro Chöden Zangmo, and whilst in her presence, I received many teachings and advice. At that time I also received many teachings from Tö-lung Ding-ka Tulku Rinpoche.
From there, I went to Tö-lung Tsurphu, and requested teachings from the 16th Karmapa, the supreme Rigpa’i Dorje. Whilst at Tö-lung Tsurphu I also received many teachings from Khandro Ögyen Tsomo – the consort of the 15th Karmapa Kha’khyab Dorje. I then requested—and was granted—the empowerment and transmission of the Phung Po Zankyur Gyi-dampa gÇod from Chigang Tshampa, a disciple of the 15th Karmapa who stayed in life-long retreat.
From there I went to Lhasa to visit Khyungpo Gyatön Trülku, from whom I requested the empowerment and transmission of the ’Ja’ tshon Kön Chi – ‘The Essence of the Three Jewels of the Rainbow Body’.
At Shugsèp I requested the empowerment and transmission of gÇod from Drüpchen Dawa Dorje. From Jetsün Chungwa Thrin-lé Chödrön, I requested the Nam’gyür of Milarépa and the Empowerment of the Wish-Fulfilling Wheel of the White Liberating Lady. I received many teachings from Lodrag Namkha’i Nyingpo, Senior.
In Lhodrag, at Banpa Samdrüp Gompa, at the abode of Drüpchen Cha-tshang I requested the empowerment and transmission of the ’Ja’ Tshon Kön-chi’i from Lopön rDo rJe Rig’dzin .
From there I went to Bhutan where I received many teachings from the Dzogchen Khenpo Ngawang Norbu’s student Kha’ ’gyür Rinpoche, and also from Shakya Shri’s student Löpön Rig-nga.
On the borders of Central Tibet, at Jomo Gang-gar Lung, I received many teachings from Dza-go Tshampa Rinpoche.
In Golok, I received the Longchen Nying-thig teachings from Lama Chatral Changchub Dorje.
At ’U Yug Ling, in the province of Kardzong Dzara , I received the ’Ja’ Tshon Kön Chi’i from Shakya Shri’s son A’pho Tséwang Rinpoche.
In the area of Shang Tö, in the district of Lha-bu Dzong, I received the Lha Tsun Chö-kor teachings from Karma Ngawang Rinpoche, the great meditator of Jambu Lung.
At Kyidrong, I received the ’Ja’ Tshon Kon-chi’i from Lopön Rig’dzin Rinpoche in his remote retreat place.
I then went to East Khumbu where I received the Minling cycle of teachings from Trulshik Ngawang Do-ngak Chökyi Lödrö Rinpoche. In East Khumbu, I received the Chang gTér Dorje Phagmo Zab-gya empowerment and instructions from Lhagpa Rinpoche, the Lama of Kyarog Gompa.
From there I went to Tso Pema, where I received the Nyingma Gyüd ’bum and other teachings from the supreme Ga’wang Düd’jom Jig’drèl Yeshé Dorje Rinpoche. Whilst in Tso Pema I went to the retreat place of the Répkong Lama Shérab Dorje Rinpoche. There I received teachings from him as well as from Dzigar Wangdor Rinpoche.
I received many teachings from the trülku of Taklung Matrül Rinpoche.
At Tsib-ri I received teachings from Seng-drag Tulku.
At Ngé-dön Ga’tshal gLing I received the complete empowerment and transmission of the Rinchen gTér-Dzo from the supreme Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoche.
In Sikkim, at Né-nang Drak-kar Tri-ling, I received the Rinchen gTér-Dzo from DoDrüpchen Rinpoche – and from Gönchang Trülku Rinpoche I also received many teachings.
I received transmission and instructions on the Lhatsun drüpthab cycle from the Supreme Chatral Sang-gye Dorje Rinpoche.
I received both the Chenrézigs empowerment according to the Sakya tradition, and the empowerment, oral transmission and instruction of Thangtong rGyal Po from the supreme Sakya Tri’dzin – the Drölma Phodrang Rinpoche.
At Kapung Zangdok Palri Gompa in Kalimpong I received the gTérma cycles of both Düd’jom Lingpa and Düd’jom Jig’drèl Yeshé Dorje from the new incarnation of ’Jamyang Khyentsé. There I received teachings from the Bhutanese master Longdröl Rinpoche, and the supreme Dung-sé Thrin-lé Norbu Rinpoche.
In this way, without discriminating, I received the maturing empowerments, the liberating instructions, and the reinforcing transmissions at the feet of the great masters together. I was filled to overflowing with their inconceivable kindness and put their methods into practice – as follows: the common outer and inner preparations; the development stage of Mahayoga; the activities of approach and accomplishment of the Three Roots; the five supplementary gTummo practice cycles of Anuyoga Dzog-rim, which function through the rTsa, rLung, and thig-lé; the ’Khor’dé Rushan Dzogchen Atiyoga cycle of practice; the Primordial Trekchod and the spontaneously formed Togal practices from the Three Series of Dzogchen.
I have practised in Tibet, Bhutan, India, Nepal, and Sikkim – in all the places where the Mahasiddhas in India and Tibet lived or visited. I have practised in the hidden lands blessed by Padmasambhava and Yeshé Tsogyel. I have practised in snow retreats, rocky caves, charnel grounds, and lake-islands. In all those places I have endured heat and cold. In order to make connections I have resided wherever Padmasambhava and Yeshé Tsogyel stayed. In these places I have completed year-long, month-long, and week-long retreats.
Knowing of my life, my Dharma friends requested the history of my life and liberation. Furthermore, my English friend Aro Tulku Chögyam (Ngak’chang Chos dByings rGya mTsho Rin po che) sincerely requested an account of my life and the Lamas with whom I have taken refuge. He asked me to describe the places I lived and practices in which I engaged. At his request I composed this brief history in the 17th rabjung, the fire rat year (1985) in Nepal whilst living at Tsogyel Gé ’phel Jong near Yang-lé-shöd. Righteous!
de lTar rang gi chos grogs ’ga’ nas khyed kyi chos phyogs/ kyi rnam thar zhig dgos zhes bsKul ma byung ba dang / lhag par dByin yul gyi grogs po A ro sPrul sKu chos rGyam / nas kyang rNam thar zhig dgos zhes nan bsKul / la brTen nas rang gis bLa ma bsTen tshul / gnas dang sgrub brgyab pa’i lo rgyus mdor ’dus ’di bzhin / bod rab byung me byi lor bal yul gnas chen yaang le shod kyi / nye ’dabs mTsho rGyal dGe ’phel lJongs su sDod sKabs bris pa dGe’o / bal yul sGo mang gLog rtsis (kam pu’i tar) dpe sKrun khang nas ’phrul par du btab pa’o
This translation was made at the request of Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen by their friend Khenpo Jig’mèd Sonam Tobgyal Rinpoche, and their ordained disciple Naljorpa Ögyen Rigpa’i Dorje at Pema Ösel Ling in the Santa Cruz Mountains and Aro Gö-tsang in Alameda, California, in December 2000. May this translation benefit everyone and everything everywhere through the power of the gö-kar-chang-lo’i de.