At the end of the eighth century, Padmasambhava, the Lotus-Born, arrived in Tibet. As the primary master of Vajrayana, he accompanies every one of the thousand buddhas of this eon. He had twenty-five main disciples; in later incarnations those disciples were reborn as tertöns, who revealed teachings Padmasambhava had hidden to benefit people of coming times.
My root guru, Samten Gyatso, had incredible faith in Padmasambhava and would tell me how he marveled at the words of the Lotus-Born. Although Samten Gyatso was extremely erudite and had studied vast volumes of literature, he continued to find many fresh levels of meaning in Padmasambhava’s teachings.
“There is no one greater than Padmasambhava,” he would often say. “Of course, Buddha Shakyamuni is the root, but the Lotus-Born made the Vajrayana teachings spread and flourish throughout India—and especially in Tibet. If you look closely, you can see just how amazing his terma teachings are! And if you compare his terma revelations with any other treatise, you can see their unique quality. The reason is that they were from Padmasambhava himself.
“The beauty of their prose is astounding! It is very difficult for anyone to write with such beauty and depth as you find in terma practices. Unlike treatises by people who are merely learned, in a terma each word can be understood on increasingly deeper levels. That special quality of Padmasambhava’s vajra speech means that whenever you read his teachings, you inevitably feel faith and devotion, trust and complete confidence!"
During the time of Khyentse, Kongtrul, and Chokgyur Lingpa, those twenty-five foremost disciples of the Lotus-Born who had gathered around him at Samye almost a thousand years earlier all returned in simultaneous incarnations. As one of my teachers, Dzongsar Khyentse, put it, “The twenty-five disciples of the Lotus-Born came back together like a throng of sheep and goats running out of a barn. These disciples reappeared as masters with incredible experience and realization, learning, and accomplishment. Their personal disciples and their disciples’ disciples were equally amazing.”
In fact, throughout Kham and the rest of Tibet, tulkus of all twenty-five were identified and recognized.
--Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Blazing Splendor
As a long-time favorite project of mine, and also to foster even further mutual respect among all the various Dharma groups, I am making a webpage listing the current whereabouts of incarnations -- or multiple incarnations -- of the 25 disciples. Please post there details, short biographical date, small pictures for the web, who recognized them etc. to me, or under "post a comment" at the bottom of http://blazing-splendor.blogspot.com/2005/08/padmasambhava-lotus-born-master-and.html
The list of the 25 disciples is at www.rangjung.com/gl/25_disciples-incarnations.htm
Just contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warm wishes, Erik Pema Kunsang