From the Editors

In Praise of Longchen Rabjam

Book coverBy Khenpo Shenga

Translated by Adam Pearcey

Due to the kindness of Guru Padmasambhava, there have been many great holders of the teachings here in Tibet, the Land of Snows. There have appeared highly accomplished saints who were no different from the vidyadharas of India, the Land of the Aryas. Yet although there have been countless eminent scholars, none of them might be compared with the Six Ornaments and Two Supreme Ones of India in terms of wisdom and enlightened activity.

In later times there was the Omniscient One from Samyé, Longchenpa, who was the equal of the Jowo Kadampa geshés in terms of his ethical discipline and practice of training the mind (lojong), and who was like Jetsun Milarepa in how he first served his teacher and then spent his life meditating in solitude on the guru’s instructions. On account of his total mastery of study and contemplation, his fearless eloquence and his achievements in explanation, debate, and composition, we might compare him to the likes of Sakya Pandita, the Lord of Dharma, or the precious Je Tsongkhapa. How he reached the final accomplishment and arrived at the exhaustion of reality within the primordial state was just like the great Chetsun Sengé Wangchuk, Melong Dorjé, and others. In terms of his ability to manipulate phenomenal existence and call upon the assistance of the oath-bound guardians, he was comparable to the great awareness holders of Nub. In keeping to the tenets of the pinnacle of all yanas and surpassing all the views and philosophies fabricated by the ordinary mind, he was like the great Rongzom. If we consider the vast array of instructions he passed on in an oral lineage and the way he cared for the disciples who maintained his tradition, we might compare him to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo or Marpa Lotsawa.

His mastery over the conventional sciences and the way in which Sarasvati, the goddess of learning, lent power to his speech made him the equal of the lotsawas of the past. The way great clouds of blessings are amassed within his written instructions makes them identical to the profound Dharma treasures of the great tertöns. His perfect training in bodhichitta and his ability to benefit all those with whom he came into contact was reminiscent of Dromtonpa or the peerless Dakpo Lhajé (Gampopa).

Book cover
Other Tibetan scholars took as their basis the excellent Indian treatises but then added explanations based on their own clever ideas, with the result that on occasion their statements no longer accord with scripture or valid reasoning. In particular, the works of Nagarjuna and his successors have been fervently debated among Tibetans, with the assertions of earlier Tibetan scholars subjected to a great deal of presumptuous refutation and affirmation by later scholars. Yet the explanations of the Omniscient One remain true to the tradition of the Six Ornaments and Two Supreme Ones in their beginning, middle, and end.

Other Tibetan siddhas possessed only a few instructions from the oral lineage and then taught the holders of their tradition to meditate on selected instructions. Gyalwa Longchenpa, by contrast, was the master of countless teachings from profound transmissions. He possessed all manner of instructions, which had been passed down from vidyadharas and accomplished siddhas, from dakas and dakinis, or received directly from Guru Padmasambhava and so on. This meant he could lead the holders of his tradition to attainment by encouraging them to practice diligently those instructions for which they felt the greatest affinity.

Other learned and accomplished masters may have given complete teachings on particular instructions, but they did not have practices for all the teachings in their entirety. The Omniscient Guru explained all the teachings completely. He revealed the instructions for gaining supreme and common accomplishments in general, from the kriya- and charyatantras onwards, and all the tantras and pith instructions of Dzogpa Chenpo in particular, and so he is the true charioteer of the essence of clear light teachings.

In addition, his wisdom body has appeared in visions before those with great good fortune, granting them realization and so on.

In short, I believe Gyalwa Longchenpa to be the unique embodiment of the enlightened qualities of all the learned and accomplished masters of the Land of Snows. If you consider this honestly, you will find this to be just how it is, neither an exaggeration nor an understatement.

Gaining experience and realization through meditation—
That is common to all forms of pith instruction.
But gaining experience and realization through nonmeditation—
How could anyone fail to seize upon something so amazing?

Ha! Ha!

—excerpted from The Life of Longchenpa: The Omniscient Dharma King of the Vast Expanse

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