Thursday, 23 June 2011

Khandro Tsering Chödrön, Khyentse Sangyum

This most amazing of ladies, this dakini, Khandro Tsering Chödrön, Khyentse Sangyum, who passed away on the 30th of May this year, showing all the signs of attaining the final accomplishment of a great Dzogchen practitioner, was considered to be an emanation of Shelkar Dorje Tso, who was taken from her homeland in Shang Tanak by Namkhé Nyingpo, and offered to Guru Rinpoche as his consort.

This mirrors Khandro-la’s own life as she became the spiritual consort of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, one of the most outstanding masters of the twentieth century who was considered to be the activity emanation of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, who was the body incarnation of Jikmé Lingpa.

She was nineteen years old. For the next eleven years she served as his attendant, devoted and loving companion, and inspired his response to her many requests for practice, prayers, and advice, often putting her request or questions to him in the form of songs.

Her spiritual marriage to him transformed her from a somewhat rebellious and very beautiful young woman into a radiant dakini held in high regard by all who had the good fortune to meet her.

She was the aunt of Sogyal Rinpoche who writes of her in the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, and in the same way that he considered Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö to be like a father to him, he also considered her to be very much a spiritual mother to him, as it is she also who brought him up.

There are many wonderful stories of how Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö and Khandro-la found termas with Gyarong Khandro, a female master and tertön, who never slept and had a gift for predicting when people would die. Every 10th and 25th day of the lunar calendar, it is said, she would disappear and travel to the heaven of Guru Rinpoche. Khandro-la requested Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö for a prayer to Gyarong Khandro which he composed at her request.

Once, when they were performing a tsok feast Gyarong Khandro had a vision, so got up and left, and walked directly to a place where a treasure was, but because she was so fat she had difficulty reaching it and asked Khandro Tsering Chödrön to help her. They removed rocks and earth and finally reached the treasure―a ritual dagger which was still warm, that they gave to Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö.

There is the story of how she was with Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö and Khandro Tsering Chödrön when they revealed the two-armed Vajrakilaya practice, Phurba Meyi Pudri as an earth terma.

Also, in 1952, when Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö was opening the sacred place of Khyungchen Paldzong, known locally as Gyalgen Khyungtak, above Dzongsar Monastery, Jamyang Khyentse, Gyarong Khandro, Khandro Tsering Chödrön and Sogyal Rinpoche all left their handprints in the solid rock.

Khandro-la first came to visit Lerab Ling in 1996―a year that also brought Nyoshul Khenpo and his sangyum, Damchö Zangmo, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Neten Chokling Rinpoche, and Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche―and finally came to live at Lerab Ling in 2006, shortly after the beginning of the three year retreat, joining her older sister, Mayum Tsering Wangmo, the mother of Sogyal Rinpoche, who had already been living here at Lerab Ling for several years.

Her precious physical presence is still with us in the form of the kudung which will remain here in Rinpoche’s private shrine room for several more months until the time of her cremation, and students attending the retreats later this summer will have the opportunity to visit the kudung and receive her blessing.

How incredibly precious an opportunity to be here at Lerab Ling at this special moment in time...