The Nyingtik Yabshi, A concise presentation


Lerab Ling, 3 August 2013

The Nyingtik Yabshi, a concise presentation

Lerab Ling, 3 August 2013

After his last teaching on Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo, Rinpoche gave a concise presentation of the Nyingtik Yabshi. Yangthang Rinpoche was coming to Lerab Ling to give the Nyingtik initiations, so Sogyal Rinpoche was keen that his students understood better what they were about to receive.

The Buddhadharma can be divided into two (sutra and tantra) or nine vehicles. According to the ninefold division, the Nyingtik Yabshi is “the summit of all vehicles, the quintessence of all sutras and tantras, the highest level of paths and bhumis…” Let me explain why. 

The nine vehicles are the shravaka, pratyekabuddha and bodhisattva path of training; the outer tantras of Kriya, Charya and Yoga; Mahayoga and Anuyoga, which are both contained in the Nyingma tantras; and, surmounting them all, the peak of all vehicles, the highest level of teachings, Atiyoga. As it is said,

Generation Mahayoga is like the body; 
Completion Anuyoga is like the heart; 
And Great Perfection Atiyoga is like the heart’s blood.

Detailed descriptions of Atiyoga, or Great Perfection, speak of sixty-four hundred thousand tantras which can all be gathered into three classes of teachings: Mind, Space and Pith Instruction. The heart of all these three classes is the Pith Instruction section; the Nyingtik Yabshi is the main teaching of this category.

Vima Nyingtik

Nyingtik Yabshi can be translated as the four (shyi) sections (ya) of Heart Essence (nyingtik) teachings. The first section is called Vima Nyingtik.

The Vima Nyingtik teachings were initially transmitted by the primordial buddha Samantabhadra to Vajrasattva. Vajrasattva then bestowed the sixty-four hundred thousand tantras of Dzogpachenpo, in an instant, to the vidyadhara Garab Dorje who reached liberation the moment he heard them, unlike those who need to achieve the different levels step by step. 

Garab Dorje, who was known as ‘the teacher of Dzogpachenpo’ because he was the first human Dzogchen master, taught these teachings to Manjushrimitra. Manjushrimitra’s disciple was Shri Singha, whose disciples in turn were Jnanasutra and Vimalamitra. Manjushrimitra, Shri Singha, Jnanasutra and Vimalamitra are the four vidyadharas who received transmission through the sign lineage. At this point I should talk about their lives, but I don’t think that’s necessary as I’m sure you know about them already.[1]See Nyoshul Khenpo. A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems. Padma Publishing, 2005, pages 37-41, and Tulku Thondup. Masters of Meditation and Miracles. Boston: Shambhala, 2002, pages 74-94.

Vimalamitra was like the crown jewel of the five hundred great panditas of India. When he received the Dzogchen initiation into the expression of awareness (rigpé tsal wang), he attained the rainbow body of great transference and passed beyond birth and death within his very lifetime. He is still living in his vajra body on the Five-peak Mountain (Wutai Shan) in China. The Vima Nyingtik is like his heart or life-force, his greatest treasure.

The Vima Nyingtik teachings were transmitted in Tibet by Vimalamitra. The dharma king Trisong Deutsen invited Vimalamitra, offering him boundless quantities of gold, based on the prophetic advice of his minister Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo who could see with his naked eyes the three realms of existence in their entirety. In Tibet, Vimalamitra taught the instructions of the Vima Nyingtik to a few select disciples such as King Trisong Deutsen and Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo. Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo practised the Vima Nyingtik instructions in a cave on Chakpori hill high above Lhasa. As a result, he manifested the body of light free of all aggregates. 

The Vima Nyingtik teachings were written down and the texts separated into two parts to be transmitted differently. Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo transmitted them secretly, over time, to two main disciples. One set of teachings was hidden inside the capital of a pillar in the Tashipal temple. A hundred years after Nyang Tingdzin Zangpo manifested the body of light, an incarnation of Vimalamitra, Neten Dangma Lhungyal, appeared who retrieved the treasure from the pillar and received the lineage transmission for the texts.

We don’t need to go into too much detail here. You should simply know that these teachings were transmitted through a very select few masters until they reached the Great Omniscient Longchenpa. He received them from the revered master, Kumaraja. All the great beings who transmitted that lineage attained the rainbow body.

The Nyingtik Yabshi is a collection of many different texts. It contains the histories of the lineage masters, empowerment texts, sadhanas of the peaceful and wrathful deities, pith instructions explaining how to practise Dzogchen, and other related specific instructions. For example, there are one hundred and nineteen pith instructions contained within this collection.

Lama Yangtik

The Vima Nyingtik is like the mother and the Lama Yangtik like the son. The Vima Nyingtik contains the teachings transmitted by Vimalamitra. The Lama Yangtik contains the Omniscient King of the Dharma Longchen Rabjam’s writings in which he gathered all the pith instructions concealed within the Vima Nyingtik, clarifying anything that might have been unclear.

Thus he composed a further volume, known as ‘The Wish-fulfilling Jewel: Lama Yangtik’. It contains four empowerments (elaborate, simple, extremely simple and utterly simple), their related pith instructions, and the concluding entrustment of the protectors of the teachings. 

These two sets of teachings, Vimalamitra’s Vima Nyingtik and Longchenpa’s Lama Yangtik, are called the ‘Vima Nyingtik mother and son’.

Khandro Nyingtik

The master who received initiation into the expression of awareness from Shri Singha, who is beyond birth and death, and who pledged to remain until samsara is completely emptied of sentient beings, is Guru Rinpoche. Although the great master retained in his wisdom mind all the Dzogchen instructions that he received from Shri Singha, apart from a few pith instructions, no one ever witnessed him teaching Dzogchen in Tibet.

When Guru Rinpoche was staying at Samyé Chimphu, the daughter of King Trisong Deutsen, Princess Pema Sal, suddenly passed away at the age of eight. The King was inconsolable with grief and took her body to Guru Rinpoche, begging him to bring her back to life. Guru Rinpoche drew a red nri syllable on her heart and placed a red flower on her head. He recited, dzah hung nri dzah, and summoned her consciousness back into her body. He then gave her the Khandro Nyingtik initiations and instructions in their entirety, leading her to the supreme path of liberation. 

Longchenpa also received in full this lineage of teachings that Guru Rinpoche initially gave to Princess Pema Sal. Following Longchen Rabjam, they continued to be transmitted down to masters such as Khenpo Ngakchung who, like Longchenpa, was an incarnation of Princess Pema Sal. 

Some time after the revival of the princess, Khandro Yeshe Tsogyal offered the body mandala of great bliss to Guru Rinpoche in the cave known as Tsokhang Kyil Yangdzong at Zhotö Tidro[2]Wyl. bzho stod ti sgro. A cave complex situated in Drikung, Central Tibet., requesting that he confer the empowerments and instructions of Dzogpachenpo. Guru Rinpoche granted her the entire Khandro Nyingtik, as if filling a vase to the brim. 600,000 dakinis were also present and received the transmission. 

So Guru Rinpoche gave the transmission of the Khandro Nyingtik on these two separate occasions. The teachings were then hidden as terma for successive incarnations of Princess Pema Sal to reveal. Later, the tertön Pema Ledreltsal, one of Longchenpa’s previous incarnations, retrieved the yellow scroll of the terma, from which he deciphered and wrote down the root and ancillary sections of the Khandro Nyingtik. The tendrel for the revelation was not completely perfect, however, and the terma wasn’t fully revealed before he passed away. Therefore before dying, Pema Ledreltsal gave the yellow scroll to his disciples and told them that he would return swiftly in order to complete the decoding of the terma. His incarnation was Longchen Rabjam. The Omniscient One received the yellow scroll and through the power of his compassion, aspiration and past karmic connection, unfolded the remainder of the Khandro Nyingtik teachings. Longchenpa transmitted the Khandro Nyingtik four times at Gangri Tökhar and so on. 

Khandro Yangtik

Longchenpa further gathered the essence of the Khandro Nyingtik in the Khandro Yangtik. The ‘Khandro Nyingtik mother and son’ and the ‘Vima Nyingtik mother and son’ are the fourfold heart essence, or ‘nyingtik yabzhi’. 

Zabmo Yangtik

In addition, Longchenpa gathered together the profound key points of both Vima Nyingtik and Khandro Nyingtik into another collection that is very similar in terms of empowerments and teachings, known as the Zabmo Yangtik. These five collections of teachings form what we call the Nyingtik Yabshi, which contains more than three hundred texts. The Great Omniscient One, Longchenpa, said that when he is no longer present in this world, we should consult the Zabmo Yangtik, since it faithfully gathers and preserves all the pith instructions.

Every follower of the Nyingma teachings holds these teachings as supreme—as the pinnacle of all views, the quintessence of all sutras and tantras, and so on. In short, as extraordinarily profound. 

Translated by Gyurme Avertin
Edited by Philip Philipou.

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