On Our Shelves Now
The inspiring life story of Tertön Migyur Dorje, who revealed a new cycle of Tibetan Buddhist teachings, together with a commentary on the preliminary practices written by his main student.
Tertön Migyur Dorje revealed the Namchö treasure teachings while in a three-year retreat that began when he was only thirteen. The Great Compassionate One (Avalokiteshvara) and Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) appeared to him in pure visionary experience and gave him these teachings. Migyur Dorje then dictated them to his teacher Karma Chagme. The Namchö treasures later became the main teachings and practices of the Palyul lineage, and these teachings continue to be presented in Palyul monasteries and retreat centers throughout Asia, North America, and Europe.
This book brings together two texts that have inspired countless practitioners in this lineage. The first text tells the life story of Migyur Dorje. It was composed by Karma Chagme, the master who first recognized the seven-year-old Migyur Dorje as an exceptional tulku and tertön and who was responsible for preparing him to be a major treasure revealer.
The second text is a commentary on the Namchö preliminary practices. Written by Rigdzin Kunzang Sherab, Migyur Dorje’s main student and the first throne holder of the Palyul lineage, it explains the foundational practices that should be completed before pursuing more advanced ones: the four contemplations that turn the mind to dharma and the fivefold practice of taking refuge, arousing bodhichitta, mandala offering, Vajrasattva purification, and Guru Yoga.
About the Author
KARMA CHAGME (1613–1678) was a scholar and meditation master, versed in both the Nyingma and Karma Kagyu traditions. While in retreat, he recognized and enthroned Migyur Dorje, the great tertön, when Migyur Dorje was ten years old.
RIGDZIN KUNZANG SHERAB (1636–1699) was a student of both Karma Chagme and Migyur Dorje. Kunzang Sherab took charge of the newly built Palyul Monastery in 1665, thus becoming the first Palyul lineage throne holder. He established the systematic order of practice still followed by Palyul monasteries today.
“I am delighted that this body of work, the great Karma Chagme’s life story of Tertön Migyur Dorje, is now translated and available to readers in the West. The great mahasiddha Tertön Migyur Dorje discovered the collection of sky treasures, known in Tibetan as Namchö. This body of termas was cherished and propagated widely by Karma Chagme, bringing benefit to countless beings. Due to these termas, many attained deep realization, fully awakening to the state of enlightenment, either in this life or at the time of dissolution. As it is the main cycle of practice of the Palyul lineage, the vast benefit of the dharma brought to the world by this treasure cycle is unfathomable, beyond expression in mere words. I am very pleased that readers can now encounter this profound body of teachings and receive the immense and boundless blessings of Guru Padmasambhava, Tertön Migyur Dorje, and Karma Chagme Rinpoche.”—Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, author of Peaceful Heart
“Among his many attributes, Karma Chagme is known for explaining the most profound and difficult teachings in a way that is not only direct, simple, and earthy but also poetic and deeply moving. Readers of Sky Dharma will certainly appreciate that rare quality.”—Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche, author of Living Is Dying
“Namchö, or Sky Dharma, is a very important lineage of Dzogchen ngöndro treasure teachings first transmitted by Buddha Samantabhadra to Padmasambhava and passed down uninterruptedly to the present day in the Palyul Nyingma lineage of Vajrayana Buddhism. It is a profound, vast, in-depth path to attaining the heart of enlightenment. I have deep appreciation for this lineage. Readers who desire to explore and learn the sky treasure Namchö teachings will find this comprehensive book the perfect vehicle for doing so.”—Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche, author of Our Pristine Mind
“We can now have the joy of reading in English this most inspiring biography of Namchö Migyur Dorje, a child prodigy and visionary master, who, with the help of his mentor Karma Chagme, revealed no less than thirteen volumes of spiritual treasures during the twenty-three years of his short life. Together with a limpid explanation of the foundation practices (ngöndro), this volume is a precious gift to anyone interested in Tibetan Buddhism and spiritual life at large.”—Matthieu Ricard, author of Enlightened Vagabond
“It is wonderful that Sky Dharma: The Foundations of the Namchö Treasure Teachings has been brought into the English language through the efforts of Khenpo Sonam Tsewang and Judith Amtzis. First, let me say that I am especially pleased to note that these two have collaborated to present this important and timely teaching, as I am a firm believer that Western translators must still depend upon expert Tibetan scholars in order to craft an accurate translation. Not only that, this subject material is certainly a precious fountain of wisdom ambrosia in these degenerate times.
In 1985, at the request of Venerable Gyatrul Rinpoche, Kyabje Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche came to the West for the first time to bestow the Sky Dharma empowerments and transmissions. I had the great fortune both to serve as Penor Rinpoche’s translator for this visit and to continue traveling with and serving him for the next several decades. During this time, Kyabje Rinpoche constantly emphasized the timely importance of this Great Perfection lineage and the importance it would have in the world today.
To illuminate why there must be some knowledge of the lineage history: During the life of Buddha Shakyamuni, Tertön Migyur Dorje was Ananda. Among the twenty-five disciples of Guru Rinpoche in Tibet, Migyur Dorje held five incarnations simultaneously. He was Vairocana, as the enlightened body emanation; Shubu Palseng, as enlightened speech; Langdro Kunchok Jungne, as enlightened mind; Nanam Yeshe Dorje, as enlightened qualities; and Lhalung Palgyi Dorje, as enlightened deeds. His future incarnation as Tulku Migyur Dorje was predicted in the lives and liberation of Padmasambhava, where his name and place of birth are given. All the great tertöns who preceded him predicted his coming in their own termas.
As a child, Migyur Dorje recalled his past lives, and when Guru Loden Choksed, one of the eight manifestations of Guru Rinpoche, appeared to him in vision, Migyur Dorje could suddenly read and write the Tibetan language without study or training. His visions of wisdom deities, dakinis, and dharmapalas were unprecedented and inconceivable. At age ten, he met his karmic master Khedrub Chagme Rinpoche, who was destined to become his principal dharma heir and keeper of his terma revelations. There were other important dharma heirs among the contemporary masters of the day, including Vidyadhara Kunzang Sherab.
The terma revelations of Migyur Dorje are empowered with all three ways that lineage transmissions are transmitted. They are canonical due to the fact that the deities actually appeared to him directly, they are terma due to the fact that the termas welled forth from his transcendent state of awakening, and they are the whispered lineage of visionary wisdom transmission in that he heard every word from the deities directly.
I strongly encourage all readers to study the content of this remarkable biography and to embrace the Sky Dharma lineage as an important transmission for this time. As an authentic lineage of the Great Perfection, this dharma is profound, unelaborate, convenient, complete, and extremely direct by means of bringing benefit and realization in this lifetime to all beings who connect with faith and devotion.”—Sangye Khandro, cofounder of Light of Berotsana