Thursday, September 22, 2005

Recent holder of the Hearing Lineage

One of the more outstanding masters in recent times was Khenpo Ngawang Palzang of Khatok, usually known as Khenpo Ngakchung.
Several of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche’s teachers had studied with this master, but especially Bomta Khenpo (Polo Khenpo Dorje). Here is a story about him from Blazing Splendor:

One day Bomta Khenpo told me, “In my life I have received plenty of teachings on the view and the scriptures of the Great Perfection, as have many others. But I’m one of the rare people who have met both Vimalamitra’s emanation and Vimalamitra in actuality.”
“Please, Rinpoche,” I requested, “tell me the story.”
“Vimalamitra’s emanation is my teacher Khenpo Ngakchung. Once every hundred years, Vimalamitra sends an emanation to Tibet to clarify the innermost essence of the Dzogchen teachings. Paltrul once told his disciple Lungtok of Nyoshul that he didn’t get to meet this emanation of Vimalamitra, but ‘you will probably meet him in your time.’ Lungtok identified his own disciple Khenpo Ngakchung as an unmistaken emanation of Vimalamitra and Khenpo Ngakchung became my root guru.
“When I met Khenpo Ngakchung, I already had a fairly good comprehension of emptiness, but that degree of theoretical learning didn’t satisfy me. I still felt an acute need to clarify every point and gain a thorough understanding, to the fullest degree.
“So I asked for the job of Khenpo’s tea server—not that I was that young at the time, but I thought it would be a good way to get close to the master. Each time I poured him a cup of tea, I whispered a short question and each time I received an answer. That was the only practical way to approach him; otherwise you had to advance to the position of assistant teacher to be allowed to ask questions. For eight years, I held on to my menial chore, serving his tea—and at the end of that time, I couldn’t find a single question that I still needed to ask.”
Later on, I got a chance to ask the Karmapa about Bomta Khenpo’s teacher, “What do you think of Khenpo Ngakchung?”
“Oh, he’s definitely an emanation of Vimalamitra,” he replied in his deep voice.
That settled it.

For more details about the nature of the pointing-out instruction, see:


Anonymous said...

Can you please expalin a 'Hearing Lineage". It seems that there are a number of hearing lineages in both the Kagyu and Nyingma lineages. What makes a hearing lineage unique?


Erik Pema Kunsang said...

"A hearing lineage is one that is given from the master’s voice to the disciple’s ears, and only to one person at a time, rather than being a printed text."
--Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Yes, there are various Hearing Lineages. The particular one Tulku Urgyen is referring to in this context must be the Hearing Lineage of Nyingtig which came through Jigmey Lingpa and Paltrul Rinpoche.

Erik Pema Kunsang said...

It should of course be mentioned that Khenpoche Ngakchung is the author of the famous "A Guide to The Words of My Perfect Teacher" (Shambhala Publications). Among his many disciples were the Chatral Rinpoche, who is still alive in Nepal, and Khenpo Munsel of Khatok. My good friend Jakob Leschly is currently translating Khenpo Ngakchung's auto-biography. Look foreward to a great read!

sherabray said...

There is a Khenpo Ngakchung's auto-biography in Mandarin...his Tulku is Sangye Tsering Rinpoche currently in China...

Anonymous said...

There is a website of Nyoshul.
Khenchen Ngakchung's photo:
(Sangye Tsering Rinpoche Ngakchung's photo also)