Tuesday, July 20, 2004

Simhanada---The Nyingma Lineage

Simhanada---The Nyingma Lineage
The Short Transmission of the Lineage (Terma Lineage)

The Nyingma lineage also occurs through a direct transmission of the teachings of Padmasambhava to a Terton (revealer of the treasured teachings called termas). Unlike the long transmission and the handing down of the lineage through centuries, this Terma transmission shortens the lineage, refreshes the teachings, continue blessings and renews disappearing texts. The Short transmission is beneficial since the long lineage sometimes fades. Also, the short transmissions can suit the mental capacities of the beings during a certain era.

The Terma Tradition
There is a tradition within Buddhism to conceal a teaching to benefit future generations. Even the Buddha Shakyamuni concealed Sutras such as those on the Prajna Paramita, to be discovered by Nagarjuna.

In Tibet, Guru Rinpoche did the same. Guru Rinpoche predicted circumstances in which the revealers of his teachings would appear. After giving a teaching that would benefit beings in the future, Guru Rinpoche or his disciples would conceal it to be revealed in the future.

The termas, and even religious objects, were sworn to be protected by certain Terma Protectors and Dakinis. These protectors and female spirits will only deliver the terma to the correct Terton. The termas were concealed by various means:
1) Earth Termas/scriptures: the terma scribe either wrote the terma in symbolic Dakini Script, or in Tibetan or Sanskrit. The symbolic script can only be read by the Terton. It usually just awakens the Terton's mind to the teaching. These writings are often done on yellow scrolls and put in caskets. The destined Terton is the only person who will discover it. A scripture can be concealed by Guru Rinpoche in various places, as in some cases, the casket would simply fall from the sky. Even though a terma might be written, its entirety is already within the mindstream of the Terton.

2) Mind Termas: these are transmitted directly from Guru Rinpoche to the mind of the Terton without the use of yellow scrolls. Thus, the awakened and realized Terton discovers and recalls (from his own enlightenment) the teaching of Guru Rinpoche. A vision of a syllable or symbol can cause the Terton to fully recall a terma. Both the Earth and Mind Termas require a mind to mind transmission from Guru Rinpoche to the Terton.

3) Pure Vision: these are not necessarily termas, since they do not require the mind to mind transmission from Guru Rinpoche. But these are pure teachings received from the vision of deities. These esoteric teachings are based on the tantras, and are sometimes called termas due to their merit.

The major termas collections contain Instructions on the Guru, Yidams and Dakinis (Rootor the Sources), the Branch instructions on the aspects and accomplishments of the siddhis and attainments (including other sacred objects and mantras), and the Heart teachings/practices of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Dzogchen and the Guru Padmasambhava.

A terma is discovered only after
1) Guru Rinpoche gave his prediction and command that a certain Terton will discover it
2) The Terton receives a prophecy to discover the terma
3) Preparatory rituals and purification are performed before the discovery
4) It is properly determined which consort and companions should be taken along, and whether or not the terma will be revaled in public.
5) It is determined how to propitiate the Terma Protector who must hand over the Terma, and what to replace once the terma is taken (sometimes the terma is returned and re-concealed)

A true Terma which is fully authentic might bring obstacles at first, but confer great benefit.

However, evil incarnations have attempted to produce false termas. They are soon known to be false since the terma's effects are not beneficial and not dharma.

Tertons are often incarnations of Guru Rinpoche’s disciples. They are realized and accomplished beings who appear due to the command of the Guru. They are not to be judged by their behavior, as Guru Rinpoche said, “The hidden enlightened beings appear in uncertain form, (while) the fool deceivers (false Tertons) are great hypocritical mimics of the dharma practitioner.”

Many Tertons take the afflictions of others unto themselves, and engage in all activities as the equal and nondual nature of enlightenment. Therefore, one’s egocentric expectations of a Terton do not constitute sound judgment. The Buddha said enlightened beings appear in all forms, from a Buddha, to a butcher and prostitute. Therefore, to judge an authentic Terton is a grave mistake.

The Terma tradition has produced over one hundred major, and many more minor tertons. The Five Terton Kings were Nyangral Nyima Özer (1124-92), Guru Chowang (1212-70), Dorje Lingpa (1346-1405), Padma Lingpa (b.1405) and Jamyang Khyentse (1820-1892).

Terton Ratna Lingpa (1403-1473) compiled the Kangyur and Tengyur, plus the Nyingma Tantras, which was organized originally by Longchen Ranjampa in the 14th century. Kathok and Gonchen Monastery, along with Terdak Lingpa and Lochen Dharmasri, also collected many of the tantras.

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye complied and collected the lineages into the Rinchen Terdzo which composed over sixty volumes. This was kept at Palpung Monastery of the Tai Situ Rinpoche. Other masters such as Mipham Rinpoche, Patrul Rinpoche and Dodrupchen Rinpoche composed some of the most authoritive texts and explainations on the terma tradition.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1910-1992) published a thrity three volume set of the “Collection of Ancient Tantras,” in India.


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