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The lord of the wheel of the infinite ocean

of the three roots,

The sole refugee of limitless sentient beings,

The unrivalled knowledge holder

of the three times,

I supplicate at the feet of Tsoknyi Ozer.

THE FIRST INCARNATION

The first Tsoknyi Ozer was born in a place called Dewa Tang, Kyodrak in the twelfth sexagenary cycle of the Fire Snake Year, 1737, to a father named Kharpa Puntsok. Having been endowed with the characteristics of the excellent ones from a young age and with a great interest in virtuous activities, he went on pilgrimage to central Tibet.

Thus, he met the Thirteenth Karmapa Dudul Dorje (1733/34–1797/98)[1] and received many spiritual instructions. [At that time,] the Karmapa recognised him as the emanation of Choje Lingpa (1682–1720)[2] and performed many activities including this prophecy: “Since your future disciples and beneficial activities are in Kyodrak, go there and benefit them. In the future, you will be more valuable than others for the Barom teachings.” As such, the Karmapa bestowed upon him the name Tsoknyi Ozer. Having returned home, he received the complete instructions of the liberative methods of the victorious Barom tradition from Selje Chodrub Senge. Subsequently, as there had only been black yak-haired tents in the encampment of Kyodrak, he built a fort called Pur Khang in 1779. There he conducted meditational practices, rituals, and offerings.

In the Wood Dog Year, 1785, of the thirteenth sexagenary cycle, Tsoknyi Ozer constructed Kyodrak Monastery’s new assembly hall along with the representations of the enlightened body, speech, and mind. His enlightened activities spread and flourished: He established the tradition of Choje Lingpa’s revealed treasure teachings. He became the object of worship for the people of China, Tibet, and Mongolia. He [built] innumerable and invaluable representations of the enlightened body, speech, and mind and established retreat centres at multiple hermitages. In brief, he greatly spread and proliferated the teachings of both theory and practice such as the dances, mask dances, and melodies in accordance with the traditions of previous knowledge holders. As such, Kyodrak Monastery installed him on the vajra throne, and everyone highly respected him as a great being and holder of the teachings.

THE SECOND INCARNATION

The second Tsoknyi was born to a father named Won Tendzin Norbu and a mother named Sonam Dronma who was the chieftainess of Tsang Sar. He was recognised by the Fifth Dung Kar Shri Bhadra of Kyodrak, who named him Karma Tsewang Kunkhyab. He achieved the primordial wisdom of the aural lineage as he was primarily focused on meditation practice.

Due to his yogic observances, he established everything he saw or heard onto the path of liberation. Certain aspects such as the dates of his birth and death are not available. In the end, he died at the age of sixty[3] and attained the rupakaya, the form body.

THE THIRD INCARNATION

The third incarnation was born with a number of wondrous signs in the lower part of the Sengge district in Kham in the Earth Male Mouse year, 1828. His father was named Orgyen Gonpo and his mother Drongza Lhamo Drol.

Shugu Tendar, a monk from Kyodrak, knowledgeable in medicine and astrology, named him saying: “Since this child has good astrological signs, the name Tashi Tsegon should be given to him.” 

Since he was the descendent of the dignitary Lhagyari, a royal lineage of the dharma kings of Tibet, from a young age everyone called him Lhabu, the Divine Son.

When an elder guru of Khang Ne Monastery conferred the empowerment of Vajrakila, the guru encouraged those who knew the mantra to recite the approach mantra for Vajrakila and for those who did not, to recite the approach mantra for Vajrapani. The Lord Lhabu, also, made a mala of kyerpa wood (berberis aristate) and performed over ten million prostrations and recitations of the approach mantra. Since he meditated on a protection circle, he was free from obstacles.

From a young age, he had visions of Yeshe Gonpo, Padmasambhava, and Banak Genyen amongst others. Even while playing, he acted only in conformity with the doctrine. Frightened by the shortcomings of cyclic existence, he developed renunciation in his heart. In his dreams, he had many visions of Yeshe Chokyang, the Dharma Protector of Primordial Wisdom. From the fully ordained monk Rolo Tarlam of Kyodrak Monastery, he learned the way to posit the view and received experiential instructions on the way of meditating on Avalokiteshvara and Padmasambhava. Due to this, when he became slightly older, he already had a great propensity for the doctrine.

On a number of occasions, he had pure visions of such things as sights, sounds, and awareness appearing as deity, mantra, and dharmakaya. When Karma Dondam Jikdrel Wangpo, the reincarnation of Ne Do Karma Dechen, gave instructions on the cutting-through (trekcho) and leaping-over (togel) meditational practices of the Peaceful and Wrathful Karling cycle to his father and some other people, [Lhabu] joined them. Consequently, his view was enhanced, and he realised the avenues through which the six lamps shine forth.

 

After that, due to an unfathomable amount of blame and loss, the relatives, servants, mother and son left home and wandered to many different places. When they arrived in Tsari, he said there were dakinis enjoying a tantric feast and they instructed him: “Yogin, eat this human flesh!” Two dakinis stuffed human flesh into his mouth immediately saturating his mind and body with bliss. These were only some of the marvellous things that occurred. [While there], he visited the majority of the sacred sites in U and Tsang in central Tibet and then once again returned home.

At the age of twenty-two in the Earth Bird Year, (1849), a strong attitude of renunciation enveloped his mind. He went to the Fifth Trulzhik Maha Pandita, Pelden Gyurme Tsewang Trinle, the victor of all the directions, and in the temple of Do Ngak Shedrub Ling he firstly took refuge and then the fundamental precepts. He changed his appearance and clothing and was given the name Ngawang Tsoknyi. A person of good faith offered him auspicious articles and yoghurt. He filled his bowl with the yoghurt and gave butter and cheese in return. With those actions, many auspicious doors were made.

In the sixth lunar month, when the newly founded tradition of the first great accomplishment ceremony of The Eight Pronouncements: The Assembly of the Sugata was established, he was appointed as the leader of the practice sessions. Knowing that his guru and Padmasambhava were inseparable, he developed overpowering devotion. After that, for about two years, he memorised [texts] and even performed such activities as assisting around the monks’ quarters and fetching water. All the lamas and monks treated him lovingly due to his kind nature. He received numerous instructions, oral transmissions, and empowerments of Mahamudra and Dzogchen from A Deu Rinpoche and Yongdzin Lama Tenwang and engaged in their accompanying preliminary practices and purifications. 

When Tsoknyi was twenty-four, the Refuge Protector A Deu Rinpoche peacefully passed away. In order to fulfil his guru’s aspirations, he [set] the ring finger of his right hand [on fire] as an offering lamp. He was fully ordained by Tenpe Nyima of Taklung Monastery and was bestowed the name Mipham Loden. He received a great number of oral transmissions and empowerments including The Hundred Transmissions of Mitra (Mitra Gyatsa). Since Tenpe Nyima introduced him to the main practice of Mahamudra, he developed the faith that perceives the guru as a real buddha, and blessings entered him.  

The moment he met Rigdzin Chogyel Dorje (1789–1865/59),[4] in particular, an unbearable and blazing devotion arose, and their minds mixed as one. At different times when it was suitable, he received many empowerments, oral transmissions, and instructions including the instructions of the preliminary and main practices of Mahamudra of the glorious Drukpa [Kagyu tradition], the profound instructions of the [dzokchen] rushen practice, or the preliminary practice of differentiation, of the Peaceful and Wrathful Karling cycle along with the introduction of the main practice, the empowerment and instructions of the coemergent Chakrasamvara and the two-faced Vajravarahi, the supportive teachings for the six yogas of Naropa, various oral instructions, numerous cycles of the aural transmission, and the profound treasure of The Wrathful Sky-Blue Guru (Guru Drakting).

Furthermore, he relied upon many gurus including the incarnation of Vima, Karma Tengye Chopel, and the Seventh Chogon, Chokyi Nyinche as well as extensively receiving teachings of maturation and liberation. He reciprocally gave various suitable empowerments and oral transmissions to and from Trulzhik Kyabne Trinle Gyamtso, Nakpo Tokden, and Guru Puncho, etc.

In the Iron Pig Year (1851) at the age of twenty-four, he entered into strict retreat. After nine months had passed, despite running out of provisions, he was able to remain for about four years through engaging in immeasurable austerities.

One time, when Rigdzin Chogyel Dorje had arrived at the meditation room of his retreat hut, the Lord Chogyel Dorje bestowed upon him the profound treasure of The Wrathful Sky-Blue Guru, which he himself had extracted from Nyengyel Dorje Khyung Citadel. He also conferred the empowerment, oral transmission, and instructions of The Guru White Jambhala: The Deity of Wealth (Lama Nor Lha Dzam Kar).

In the catalogue of vajra prophecies it says: “At that time in Tibet when a short period of happiness like the glimpsing of the sun, a custodian of the teachings, a hidden yogi who is the emanation of Mune Tsenpo (8th–9th century) named Gana will invoke an emanation of mine from eastern U named Dharmasurya Chandrabhadra. This emanation is a custodian of the doctrine and special transmissions and possesses the wisdom eye.” 

 

According to that prophecy, he is indicated as being that very custodian of the doctrine.

The [guru] prophesied: “I offer this advice to you in place of retreat provisions. Put them into practice and you will not remain in your current state. You will have disciples, fame, students, and patrons in addition to power, wealth, and unrivalled authority.”

The Lord [Tsoknyi] replied: “I have renounced this life. From a primordial state that is able to be content and has little desires, I focus the depths of my mind on the dharma. The depth of the dharma is to live as a beggar, the depth of living as a beggar is to live that way until death, and the depth of living that way until death is to entrust myself to a mountainous hermitage. In doing so, like Milarepa, I wish for a life untainted by the stains of the eight worldly concerns. The ordinary accomplishments are of no need.”

The [guru] replied: “Even if you say you want it to be like that, you should wait and see how it turns out.” 

As such, Tsoknyi mixed excrement and urine together, smeared and spread it all over the meditation cave. This was greatly auspicious, and it increased his followers and enlightened activities as it was prophesied.

When he was practicing the approach and accomplishment phases of The Wrathful Sky-Blue Guru there were many great signs including the guardians of the teachings actually displaying their forms, the eight classes of gods and rakshasas displaying magical machinations, tumultuous noise, and a cacophony of sounds. Rid of intimidation and fear, he overpowered these challenging signs through the sheer brilliance of his vajra-like concentration. As an indication of this, they offered their life and heart to him. All of those who beheld lineages of the dharma, accepted him as one who dispels all adverse conditions and accomplishes any and all favourable conditions.

From then onwards, his enlightened activities flourished even further: Humans congregated during the day and gods and demons assembled during the night. In the evenings and mornings, clothes and foods were gathered. As all those were accumulated, the guru’s prophecy came to be true. 

When he performed the approach and accomplishment of the principal and retinue deities of Guru Orgyen: The Deity of Wealth: The White Jambhala, he had visions of the assembly of deities. One day, in particular, a stream of melted butter flowed down from the support beam of his meditation room and, in a single stroke, made his clothes and belongings very greasy. He himself even declared: “Due to engaging in severe austerities and the interdependency from accomplishing the White Jambhala, my successive students will not be impoverished as they will have food, clothing, and resources.” This can even be seen directly today.

Generally, without any effort, he would have pure visions of whichever deity he practiced, as well as having visions of various other deities. He even composed an instructional text for The Wrathful Sky-Blue Guru. He newly constructed a retreat centre called Khacho Chodzong Dechen Rabar. Since he practiced The Three Bodies of the Guru (Lama Kusum), for seven years, the remaining beneficial karma from his past lives of Langdo Lotsawa Konchok Jungne (8th century)[5] and Ratna Lingpa (1403–1479)[6] was activated.

All the physical yogas of the vajra body clearly arose in the mirror of his mind, which are contained in his mind-sadhana practice. In his pure vision, the wisdom body of Ratna Lingpa often took care of him, disclosing to him the secretly sealed [teachings] of the five kinds of secret instructions along with the physical yogas and giving him the secrets of the open and direct instructions. In this way, Ratna Lingpa was his companion on the path and his primordial wisdom flourished [due to this relationship]. There are numerous wondrous narratives such as those. [Through this] he received the name Pema Drime Ozer. 

In the Wood Monkey Year, (1884), Jamgon Kongtrul [Lodro Taye] (1813–1899)[7] bestowed upon him the cycles of the aural lineage concerning the path of skilful means, and he also received the complete instructions of the five stages of Ratna Lingpa’s The Exceptional Assembly of the Accomplishment of the Enlightened Mind (Tukdrub Yangdu). He was particularly praised as “Tsoknyi, the lord of the accomplished ones.” [Jamgon Kongtrul] also received many teachings from the Lord [Tsoknyi]. 

After that, he eventually came to Kyodrak by passing through Gadzo, Pelzhung, Tamkha, and Kyadzo. Since Lama Sel [Ga Rinpoche], Ten [Nying Rinpoche], Dung [Kar Rinpoche], and his father’s family had a profound patron-priest relationship, their good intentions integrated as one in both spiritual and temporal affairs.

In particular, the Lord accepted Dungkye Rinpoche Rigdzin Dudjom Dorje, who was the supreme guru of the previous lifetimes, to be the emanation of Barom Darma Wangchuk (1127–1194?).[8] He recited the seven-syllable mantra of Chakrasamvara hundreds of millions of times. He received the six dharmas of Mahamudra and Dzogchen from Chogyel Dorje. Through engaging in the practices, he actually discovered the signs of accomplishment.

From this unrivalled and excellent being [Chogyel Dorje], who had visions of a multitude of deities and so forth, he received the Barom Mahamudra cycle of teachings concerning the six dharmas of The Lord of Bliss (Degon), Tulku Mingyur Dorje’s (1645–1667)[9] pure vision teachings of The Sky Teachings (Namcho), and The Unified Oral and Treasure Teachings (Karter Zung Juk), written by the doctrine holder Chodak Chakme Rinpoche (1613–1678),[10] which is an ancillary text to the mind treasures [of Mingyur Dorje]. He received all of their empowerments and oral transmissions in their entirety. He also offered long-life prayers of the gurus as well as some of the empowerments and oral transmissions in return.

Upon the invitations of his paternal relative Sowang Pun, his former enemy Rakshu Tsewang Darge, Zurmang Ati, and others, he gave instructions and spiritual advice, establishing them in the doctrine. Then he went into a strict retreat in the cave of Khyungtra having taken upon himself a tantric commitment. Banak Genyen, the protector of that sacred site, offered its life and heart to him, and Tsoknyi accepted him at his word. Then Banak Genyen gave him a key for the enlightened activities of magnetisation, and Tsoknyi was able to compose a profound meditational practice of that treasure protector [Banak Genyen]. With a seal of secrecy, he offered it to the gurus, abbots, and masters of Kyodrak Monastery, where the text can still be found. 

His experience and realisation thrived. He went to U, Tsang, and other destinations where he combined his beneficial works for sentient beings and for the practice. Finally, at the age of sixty-one on the twenty-ninth day of the fourth month of the Earth Mouse Year, 1888, he peacefully passed away.

He had a great number of students including the Ninth Gyelwang Ngedon Tenpe Nyiche,  the Sixth Je Khamtrul Tenpe Nyima, the Sixth Trulzhik A De Gyelse, Tari Ngawang Chojor, Tokden Ngawang Gelek, Gechag Tokden Ngawang Tsangyang Gyatso, Jamme Chopal Gyatso, Jamtrul Tenpe Gyeltsen, Dru Jamyang Drakpa,  Dompa Lama Puntsok Chogrub, Tarru Tokden Choying Namdak, Lang Ngawang Lhundrup, Geshe Tenzin Zangpo, Kunkhen Tsewang Namgyel, Ngor Khen Kunga Tendzin, Nakpo Terton Garwang Yeshe Rolpa, and Ngawang Namgyel Tenpa.

 

THE FOURTH INCARNATION

The fourth Tsoknyi, Lhagyel Dorje, was born in the Chukru family of Kyodrak. He was recognised by the great treasure revealer Barwe Dorje and gave him the name Tsoknyi Lhagyel Dorje. Numerous historical accounts were lost during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) including his biography and the dates of birth and death. So, there is no clear account of him.

[1] karma pa 10 bdud 'dul rdo rje, BDRC P828

[2] chos rje gling pa, BDRC P671

[3] This is a scribble error as the dates between the First Tsoknyi and the Third Tsoknyi does not make this possible.

[4] chos rgyal rdo rje, BDRC P1711

[5] lang gro dkon mchog 'byung gnas,

[6] rat+na gling pa, BDRC P470

[7] 'jam mgon kong sprul blo gros mtha' yas, BDRC P264

[8] 'ba' rom pa dar ma dbang phyug, BDRC P1856

[9] gman chos mi 'gyur rdo rje, BDRC P659

[10] karma chags med, BDRC P649

NOTES

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dbon dge legs. 2020. Grub pa'i sa mthor gshegs pa'i skyo brag tshogs gnyis 'od zer sku phreng rim byon gyi rnam thar mdor bsdus bzhugs so. London: Tib Shelf P005

COLOPHON

None

A Brief Biography:

The Successive Incarnations of Tsoknyi Ozer

Abstract

These introductory biographies of the successive reincarnations of Tsoknyi Ozer invite us to the land of liberation by establishing their enlightened lifestyles as examples. The text highlights the significance of devotion towards a spiritual master as, for example, the Third Tsokyni lighting his ring finger on fire, offering it as a lamp to fulfil his guru's aspirations. 

AUTHOR

Wonpo Gelek

TRADITION

Barom Kagyu

INCARNATION LINE

Choje Lingpa

Tsoknyi Ozer

HISTORICAL PERIOD

18th Century

19th Century

20th Century

21st Century 

TEACHERS

The First Incarnation:

The Thirteenth Karmapa Dudul Dorje

Selje Chodrub

 

The Second Incarnation:

n/a

 

The Third Incarnation:

Rolo Tarlam

Karma Dondam Jikdrel Wangpo

The Fifth Trulzhik Maha Pandita, Gyurme Tsewang Trinle

A Deu Rinpoche

Yongdzin Lama Tenwang

Taklung Tenpe Nyima

Rigdzin Chogyel Dorje

Karma Tengye Chopel

The Seventh Chogon Chokyi Nyinche

Trulzhik Kyabne Trinle Gyamtso

Nakpo Tokden

Guru Puncho

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Taye

Lama Sel Ga Rinpoche

Ten Nying Rinpoche

Dungkar Rinpoche

TRANSLATOR

Tib Shelf

INSTITUTIONS

STUDENTS

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A Brief Biography: The Successive Incarnations of Tsoknyi Ozer