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Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche

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by Sangharakshita

Tape 173: Dilgo Khyentse (Suvajra & Sangharakshita)

Sangharakshita: ... was from Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche that I received myself the Amitabha initiation and of course Dilgo Khyentse himself died not so very long ago, and we were originally informed that he was going to be cremated on the 6th of this month, that is tomorrow...

Other: Friday.

Sangharakshita: Sorry Friday. And we therefore thought that it would be a good idea, or I thought it would be a good idea, if we could have a short retreat the last day of which would coincide with the actual cremation. So Paramartha sent out letters, as you all know, inviting people to participate. But in the mean time we learnt that Dilgo Khyentse's cremation had been postponed indefinitely. The most recent information of course being that it's going to be another year at least before he is cremated, and that meanwhile the body is being returned to Bodhnath, in Kathmandu. But, since people had been informed and since people had responded, we thought, well, let's just go ahead. It would be good to have the retreat anyway. And if of course the cremation is held in a year's time, we can always have another little retreat. Laughter. So that's just the why and the wherefore. And we also thought it would be appropriate if Suvajra [Suvajra] and myself said a few words. Because obviously I did have some personal contact with Dilgo Khyentse, well 30 years ago now. Suvajra has had a very much more recent contact and if I may say so, knows quite a bit more about Dilgo Khyentse than I know myself... So Suvajra is going to be the first speaker, and I'm going to add just a few words of personal reminiscences afterwards... I mean, I don't suppose I need introduce Suvajra... Suvajra is Suvajra.

Suvajra: I had thought the roles were going to be reversed. That Bhante would speak much more about his reminiscences, and I would give a little bit in the background.

Some of you might have heard some of what I'm going to say tonight from my previous talk on Bhante's teachers. So if you imagine, we're going to extract that part of the talk I gave, and take away, we'll have that minus Bhante's personal reminiscences, because you'll do that yourself.

So it'll be a short little introduction, to give you the context for Bhante's reminiscences. And also to give you some idea of the tradition to which Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche belonged.

So I'm going to start by reading his name. Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche's name translates as Glorious Excellent Victory Banner of the Teaching of the Changeless Supreme Vehicle. It's beautiful isn't it. Jigme .... [?? - in a book it says Gyurme Thekchog Tenpai Gyaltsen] At least that's only one of his names. One of the others which can be published is called Lord of the Dance Radiant Embodiment of the Sutras and Mantras. Padma... (??). I don't know if the pronunciation is correct, but it's perhaps near enough.

Those are the 2 names that he was given during his life as a monk, and as somebody who was a recipient of Vajrayana initiations. There were other names which he was given during his lifetime and the one of course which everyone usually knew him by was Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche, or Dingle Khyentse Rimpoche. And the name Dilgo, or Dingle, comes from his family. He belonged to a very aristocratic, almost a minor royal family of eastern Tibet. And the family was called the Dingle Family. So that seems to be where his name came from. And he was born in 1910. So dying this year, in 1991, makes him, or made him, 81 years old when he died.

So quite a venerable, ripe old age. And he seemed to be active right the way up until the end of his life. I mean just to within a few days of him dying, he seemed to be very active.

And of course being Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche, he wasn't just a R, somebody who is regarded in great veneration. The name Rimpoche means something like the Precious One, and is usually applied to somebody who is seen as embodying the spirt of a bodhisattva, but he was also regarded as being a tulku. And some time in his youth, he was recognized as being the emanation or the rebirth of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. And Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo is the first Jamyang Khyentse Rimpoche, not the second Jamyang Khyentse Rimpoche , which was Bhante's own teacher back in the 1950s. Jamyang Khyentse Choki Lhodrup, as your teacher was called, was an incarnation of the first Jamyang Khyentse. Jamyang Khyentse The Great, as he was called, so I'll refer to him as Jamyang Khyentse The Great.

So I'm, going to say a little bit about Jamyang Khyentse The Great and the context in which he arises. And that'll give you some idea as to who Dilgo Khyentse Rimpoche is, because he is seen to be a direct emanation, or incarnation, of Jamyang Khyentse The Great. As far as I understand Jamyang Khyentse The Great wasn't recognized as a tulku when he was younger. At least not initially. He seemed to have been brought up as a Sakyapa monk, and some time in his youth, I think in his teens, he and two other monks were in a class together. The class being led by one Rimpoche, Gyeltse Rimpoche, and Gyeltse apparently said to these 3 monks: you Jamyang, you come and sit here. You Jamgong you sit there, and you Petrul you sit there. And apparently he said to them that Jamyang, Jamyang Khyentse, was Vairocana, and that Jamgong, who became Jamgong Kontrul, another great lama, was an emanation of... er... - this part just came to me - another, another famous bodhisattva. And Patrul he recognized as being Vimalamitra. And apparently that was it, they were just recognized from then on as being emanations of those 3 great bodhisattvas and teachers. And later on it seemed that Jamyang Khyentse was also recognized as being primarily an incarnation of Manjusri. Now these 3 young monks, they formed a great friendship.

Jamyang Khyentse had come from a royal family himself, or at least a very rich aristocratic family, and he was very well to do, he had you know, quite sort of rich clothing. Jamgong Kont was a monk from another monastery, in fact even from another tradition. And he was very very poor, and his clothing was just holding together, I mean only just holding together apparently. And Patrul Rimpoche was middling, and he was a Nyingmapa monk. And Jamyang Khyentse himself was a Sakyapa monk. And they were all studying together in a Sakyapa monastery.

Jamgong Kontrul had gone to this monastery in order to take up a new position as a sort of a cleric. And he was going to sort of keep accounts, and things like that. And Petrul had come to the monastery to learn from this particular teacher. So the 3 of them found themselves in this class together, and they formed a friendship. And the friendship seemed to be, well from all accounts, from what I can gather, seemed to be a real spiritual friendship between the 3 of them. They had a definite aspiration towards the ideal of Buddhahood, towards the Bodhisattva Ideal, and they just compared their experiences, and they tried to help each other on their way. And in the midst of all this, apparently Jamgong Kontrul was quite bitter, and speaking against the monastery, against the Sakyapa monastery, who insisted that he get reordained.

Because he had been ordained as a Kargyupa monk, and having gone to the Sakyapa monk was asked to be reordained. And he thought, well no, I've done it already, I've gone forth, I've gone for refuge, and that should be enough. That was his position. I mean it would be quite interesting to look at that in the light of our own position within this order.

But that was what he regarded as... The three of them apparently started speaking about how dreadful it was that Tibetan Buddhism, which really was just one Buddhism, had broken into so many streams. 4 major ones and many minor ones.

And they formed the idea to try and bring together the streams of all the practices within Tibetan Buddhism back together again. So after their primary education was complete, they set out in different directions, and they set out to gain initiations from all the major lamas and even minor lamas in Tibet to bring together all the streams of Tibetan practice. Tibetan philosophy seemed to have maintained itself in one main stream, but the practice had severed and divided into many many substreams. And each of them had to travel quite a long way, to... well to bring back all the teachings that had got separated.

There is one story of Jamyang Khyentse, apparently he found a young shepherd who couldn't read and he couldn't write, and he had a particular teaching that nobody else had. And Jamyang Khyentse apparently wanted the initiation for it. So to do it properly, apparently he had to first teach him how to read and write. So after teaching him to read and write, then got him to go through the initiation. Satisfied with that, off he went and subsequently met with his 2 other friends, Patrul and Jamgong, and exchanged that teaching, and of course all the other teachings were exchanged, until all 3 had exactly the same teachings, they had brought them all together again.

So that was what the 3 young lamas were up to. And those 3 were perhaps the 3 most famous lamas of the 19th century, certainly in Eastern Tibet. And they formed what was known as the Rimé tradition, or the Rimé movement, which has been translated as the non-sectarian movement. And I think of the three, perhaps Jamyang Khyentse The Great was the most famous of them all.

He died in 19.. sorry 1896, and quite soon after then, another Jamyang Khyentse was recognized, Jamyang Khyentse Choki Lodro - now I'll call him just Jamyang Khyentse. The Jamyang Khyentse Rimpoche that was your teacher, Bhante. He was born just quite quickly after 1896. But apparently Jamyang Khyentse The Great had predicted that he would have 5 incarnations, ...

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