Letter from the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Regarding the Passing of Chatral Rinpoché, Sanggyay Dorjé (bya-bral rin-po-che, sangs-rgyas rdo-rje)
January 12, 2016
A special announcement to all the assemblies of students who followed the Matchless One of Yangléshö (Pharping, yang-le-shod) in the Land of Wool (Nepal, bal-yul), the Protecting Lord, the One Gone to Bliss (Sanskrit: Sugata), His Eminence Jadrël (Chatral) Rinpoché (bya-bral rin-po-che):
THE display of the passing on of the awakened intent, for the benefit of others, of the lineage holder of the luminous Great Perfection (rDzog-chen) of the Early Translations [school of rNying-ma], one who found the accomplishment of a Knowledge Holder (Vidyādhara), the universal splendor of all, the Protecting Lord, His Eminence Jadrël (Chatral) Sanggyay Dorjé Rinpoché (bya-bral sangs-rgyas rdo-rje rin-po-che), on the Foreign Date of the 30th day of the 12th month of the 2015th year (December 30th, 2015), having reached the uppermost venerable age of 105, has indeed become a subject of sadness which is most grievous for the [Buddhist] teachings of the Victorious One in general, and for the teachings of the Early Translation Nyingma [school of Tibetan Buddhism] in particular. And thus for the General Representative Parliament of the Tibetan People (bod mi-mang spyi-‘thus lhan-tshogs), an intense sorrow has come to pass.
AND with respect to him, this eminent and transcendent being himself was born in the Water Ox Year of the Fifteenth Tibetan Sixty-Year Astrological Cycle (rab-byung), in the Foreign Year 1913, on the Tibetan date of the 10th day of the 5th month, in a place in the Nyëlrong (nyal-rong) region of Kham [in Eastern Tibet], as a son to his father, Payma Döndrup (pad+ma don-drub) and his mother, Sönam Ts’o (bsod-nams mtsho). And this Lord himself was foretold, again and again, by those such as the catalogues of predictions (lung-byang) of ‘The Comprehensive Gathering of the Innermost Intent of the Transcendent Dharma’ (dam-chos dgongs-pa yongs-‘dus) by the Great Emanated Treasure Revealer, Düdul Dorjé ([sprul-pa’i] gter-chen bdud-‘dul rdo-rje), the prognostications about the future by Ch’imey Dorjé (‘chi-med rdo-rje), the left-flank among the direct disciples of Nyakla Payma Düdul (nyag-bla pad+ma bdud-‘dul), and in numerous undeceiving and immutable revealed prophecies (of Vajra, rdo-rje’i gter-lung) by the Great Treasure Revealer, Düjom Jikdrël Yéshey Dorjé (Dudjom Rinpoché, bdud-‘joms ‘jigs-bral ye-shes rdo-rje), and others: And thus was he an eminent and transcendent being.
IT was this Protecting Lord himself who bowed down at the hallowed feet of over forty sublime great beings who were endowed with both learning and accomplishment, without sectarian bias, and from them heard many profound spiritual instructions. And of exceptional significance [among them] was the emanation of the Great Paṇḍita Vimalamitra, Khench’en Ngakwang Pëlzang or Payma (mkhan-chen ngag-dbang dpal-bzang ngam pad+ma), who, by the dynamic power of karmic connection, took him under his care, and under whom he, for six human years and five months, sought guidance by way of the three pleasing actions [of material offerings, service and Dharma practice], and then nobly undertook the practice of the Dharma Ways of the Tantras, Oral Transmissions and Pith Instructions which, in the manner of a vase being filled to its brim, he had bestowed upon him; from the first path of the preliminaries (sngon-‘gro), in the systematic order for stages of engagement (‘jug-rim mthar-chags-su), on up to the luminous secrets of Breakthrough (khregs-chod) and Sudden Leap (thod-rgal) [practices of the Great Perfection or rDzog-chen]. Thereby, his mind-stream became utterly rich with the awakened qualities of experience and realization, such as the innermost intent of the Great Perfection, that of naturally manifest appearances being experienced holistically (rdzog-pa-chen-po rang-snang ris-med kyi dgongs-pa), being borne in his mind, actualizing the Yogas of the Four Visons (snang- bzhi’i rnal-‘byor), and reaching high levels of learning and accomplishment.
THIS Lord himself served as the chief spiritual advisor (dbu-bla) to the Tibetan National Regent, Rādreng (Reting) Rinpoché (rwa-sgreng rin-po-che), and moreover, for numerous different kinds of people in Tibet’s three regions of Ü, Amdo and Kham, such as a finely arrayed series of so many greater and lesser Lamas and Tulkus each with a garland of marvelous rebirths; transcendent beings rich with the awakened qualities of scripture and realization; great officials with the high status of important authority and seals; leaders and aristocracy haughty with family lineage, dominion, power and riches; and male and female sponsors adorned with the noble wealth of being rich in faith and generosity. And not just for them, but for myriad people in the world from East and West, while his life was wholly unstained by even the tiniest bit of obsessive clinging to elaborations of the Eight Worldly Things [of gain and loss, fame and slander, pleasure and pain, praise and blame] with regard to his many disciples high and low, typified by ‘saving face’ (or putting on pretenses, ngo-bsrung) out of hope and fear, every day he gave spoken instructions and advice to measureless numbers of people of different countries and languages, and planted the seed of liberation in the mind-streams of intelligent spiritual seekers, by way of [making with them the karmic] connections of dispelling adverse conditions (with rituals, rkyen-sel), conferring authorization empowerments (bka’-dbang), and granting blessings; with nothing left unobtained.
CONSTANTLY at all times, he himself relied only on a vegetarian diet, and to others he gave numerous spoken teachings and written compositions on the unsuitability of killing sentient beings, the unsuitability of partaking food of flesh and blood, the drawbacks of partaking of it, the benefits of not partaking of it, and so on. Without wasting even the slightest bit of material offerings from the faithful, he ensured funding for the retreat provisions of renunciate meditators staying in practice centers, provided for the construction of facilities for the Eight-Part White Nyungnay (fasting practice, smyung-gnas dkar-po cha-brgyad), and so forth.
THE subjects of the written compositions by His Eminence the Protecting Lord, given in response to the requests of all the faithful, feature all sorts of quotations which are connected with the Sūtras, Tantras and Śāstras [Indian or Tibetan commentaries], craftmanship which accords with grammar and logic, and meanings which are applied to clarifying pith instructions. In brief, of pleasing words yet firm meaning, his complete early and later works total about five volumes, and include commentaries replete with the characteristics of authenticity (and perfection in logic, yang-dag gi mtshan-nyid), refutations (brgal-len), histories of monasteries (gdan-rabs), assorted praises (stod-tshogs), oral instructions (zhal-gdams), the topic of the Hearing Lineage of the Great Perfection (rdzog-chen snyan-rgyud kyi skor), catalogues (and enumerative lists, dkar-chag), histories of Buddhism (chos-‘byung), practices (phyag-len), activity applications for the Approach Practice (of Mahāyoga Tantra, bsnyen-sgrub las-sbyor), verses for ritual dance, chanting and music (gar-thig dbyangs-rol), and the topic of the Three Cycles of Making a Drum Sound (bca’-‘bud-rdung-gsum kyi skor).
OF special significance is that due to having such few desires and much contentment for his entire life, this great Hidden Yogi, who nobly did not accept the role of leadership despite being supplicated, petitioned and persistently requested to undertake it from the general behalf of the Early Translation Nyingma [school], was a great Yogi of renunciation who was never delighted by renown, fame, gain, status and the like, and who strove for the definitive meaning of thoroughly relinquishing all fabrications.
THAT the passing on of this selfsame Transcendent One’s awakened intent, for the benefit of others, is an event of great loss to the teachings of the Victorious One in general, and to those whom he nurtured in particular, is something which need not be expressed. Therefore, to the hosts of disciples along with the retinues of this Transcendent One, who has departed for the Pure Lands, the General Representative Parliament of the Tibetan People wishes to submit its heartfelt condolences.
In humble offering,
The General Representative Parliament of the Tibetan People
On the Foreign Date of January 12th, 2016
[Signed and Stamped,
bod mi-mang spyi-‘thus lhan-tshogs
The Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile]
Translated from the Tibetan by Erick Tsiknopoulos, January 2016 (Kathmandu, Nepal and Delhi, India). Special thanks to Zach Larson for his help with some difficult points in the text.
Erick Tsiknopoulos (b. 1981) is an American translator of Tibetan, a scholar, researcher and postgraduate student in Buddhist Studies, a teacher and tutor of Tibetan language, a writer and editor, a voracious reader in various subjects, and an experienced world traveler. He is the founder and primary Tibetan translator of the Sugatagarbha Translation Group, and the creator of their main website, Tibetan-Translations.com, which currently features English translations of over 400 Tibetan texts. Many of his translations have been published in various forms, including as books.
He has been a student of Buddhism since 1999, a student of Tibetan Buddhism since 2003, and a student of Tibetan language since 2005. He has been translating Tibetan texts into English since 2007, has been based in India and Nepal studying Tibetan language and Buddhism intensively and translating Tibetan texts since 2008, and has been working professionally as a Tibetan-English translator and interpreter since 2009.
He is available for contact via email at: EmptyElephant@yahoo.com and SugatagarbhaTranslations@gmail.com