Yeshé Tsogyal

Yeshé Tsogyal’s Prayer

A terma of Pema Lingpa

ན་མོ་གུ་རུ༔
maha gurü jinlab kyi

Mahā Guru, bless me

བདག་ཀྱང་ཚེ་རབས་ཐམས་ཅད་དུ༔

dak kyang tserab tamché du

That in all my lives to come,

ཞིང་ཁམས་དག་པའི་ཕོ་བྲང་དུ༔

shyingkham dakpé podrang du

In the palace in your pure land,

བླ་མ་འབྲལ་མེད་བསྟེན་པར་ཤོག༔

lama dralmé tenpar shok

I will be never be apart from you, master, but be always at your side,

མོས་གུས་ལྟེམས་རྐྱང་མེད་པ་ཡིས༔

mögü tem kyang mepa yi

And with unswerving devotion,

མཉེས་པའི་ཞབས་ཏོག་འགྲུབ་པ་དང་༔

nyepé shyabtok drubpa dang

I will serve you and please you,

དགོངས་པ་ཟབ་མོ་ཐུགས་ཀྱི་བཅུད༔

gongpa zabmo tuk kyi chü

And receive the transmission of your nectar-like blessing:

བྱིན་རླབས་བདུད་རྩིའི་ལུང་ཐོབ་ཤོག༔

jinlab dütsi lung tob shok

Your profound realization, the very essence of your wisdom mind.

 

སྐུ་གསུང་ཐུགས་ཀྱི་བྱིན་རླབས་ཀྱིས༔

ku sung tuk kyi jinlab kyi

Let the blessing of your enlightened body, speech and mind,

ལུས་ངག་ཡིད་གསུམ་སྨིན་པ་དང་༔

lü ngak yi sum minpa dang

Ripen my own body, speech and mind,

ཟབ་མོའི་བསྐྱེད་རྫོགས་རྣམ་གཉིས་ལ༔

zabmö kyedzok nam nyi la

So that I gain mastery over the profound

དབང་ཐོབ་སྒྲུབ་པ་བྱེད་པར་ཤོག༔

wang tob drubpa jepar shok

Generation and completion stages.

 

ལོག་རྟོག་བདུད་ཀྱི་ཚོགས་རྣམས་དང་༔

loktok dü kyi tsok nam dang

May I eliminate completely the demons of wrong views,

ནད་གདོན་བར་ཆད་ཞི་བ་དང་༔

nedön barché shyiwa dang

Along with illness, harmful influence and obstacles,

འཁོར་དང་ལོངས་སྤྱོད་རྒྱས་པ་ཡིས༔

khor dang longchö gyepa yi

And may good companions and resources multiply,

བསམ་པ་ཡིད་བཞིན་འགྲུབ་པར་ཤོག༔

sampa yishyin drubpar shok

So that my wishes are all fulfilled, just as I desire.

 

དུར་ཁྲོད་རི་ཁྲོད་གངས་ཁྲོད་སོགས༔

durtrö ritrö gang trö sok

In charnel grounds, hermitages, retreats amid the snows,

ཕུན་སུམ་ཚོགས་པའི་གནས་ཉིད་དུ༔

pünsum tsokpé né nyi du

And other secluded places with all perfect qualities,

ཏིང་འཛིན་ཟབ་མོའི་དགོངས་བཅུད་ལ༔

tingdzin zabmö gong chü la

Let the quintessence of deep samādhi meditation

རྟག་ཏུ་སྒྲུབ་པ་བྱེད་པར་ཤོག༔

taktu drubpa jepar shok

Be my constant practice.

 

སྒྲུབ་པ་བྱས་པའི་འབྲས་བུ་ཡིས༔

drubpa jepé drebu yi

And as the result of this practice,

ཕྲིན་ལས་རྣམ་བཞི་འགྲུབ་པ་དང་༔

trinlé nam shyi drubpa dang

May I accomplish the four activities,

ལྷ་སྲིན་བྲན་དུ་ཁོལ་ནས་ཀྱང་༔

lhasin dren du khol né kyang

Turn even gods and rakṣasas into my servants,

སངས་རྒྱས་བསྟན་པ་བསྲུང་བར་ཤོག༔

sangyé tenpa sungwar shok

And so be able to protect the teachings of Buddha.

 

སྟོན་པས་གསུངས་པའི་དམ་ཆོས་རྣམས༔

tönpé sungpé damchö nam

May all the sublime teachings taught by Buddha

རྩོལ་མེད་རྒྱུད་ལ་འཆར་བར་ཤོག༔

tsolmé gyü la charwar shok

Appear, with no effort, within my mind;

མཁྱེན་པ་མཆོག་ལ་མངའ་བརྙེས་ནས༔

khyenpa chok la nga nyé né

And, through mastering supreme knowledge such as this,

རྟོགས་པ་མཆོག་དང་ལྡན་པར་ཤོག༔

tokpa chok dang denpar shok

May I attain supreme realization.

 

བྱང་ཆུབ་སེམས་ཀྱི་རྟེན་འབྲེལ་གྱིས༔

changchub sem kyi tendrel gyi

Through bodhicitta’s causes and conditions,

སྐྱེ་འགྲོ་མ་ལུས་དབང་བསྡུས་ནས༔

kyendro malü wang dü né

May I reach and magnetize every single living being,

ཐོགས་མེད་ཡིད་བཞིན་ནོར་བུའི་མཐུས༔

tokmé yishyin norbü tü

And through the power of my actions, unbounded like a wish-granting gem,

འབྲེལ་ཚད་དོན་དང་ལྡན་པར་ཤོག༔

dreltsé dön dang denpar shok

May any connection we have be of deepest benefit and meaning.

 

སངས་རྒྱས་བསྟན་པ་དར་བའི་མཐུས༔

sangyé tenpa darwé tü

May I cause the teachings of Buddha to spread,

བརྒྱུད་འཛིན་ཆོས་སྟོན་རྒྱས་པ་དང་༔

gyü dzin chö tön gyepa dang

So that lineage holders and teachers of Dharma increase,

འགྲོ་ཀུན་བདེ་ལ་འཁོད་ནས་ཀྱང་༔

dro kün dé la khö né kyang

All beings are brought to bliss,

ཞིང་ཁམས་ཐམས་ཅད་དག་པར་ཤོག༔

shyingkham tamché dakpar shok

And all realms are purified into buddha fields.

 

བདག་གི་ལུས་ངག་ཡིད་གསུམ་གྱིས༔

dak gi lü ngak yi sum gyi

From my body, speech and mind,

གདུལ་བྱ་སོ་སོའི་བློ་ཡུལ་དུ༔

dulja sosö lo yul du

Let infinite emanations appear,

གང་ལ་གང་འདུལ་སྤྲུལ་པའི་སྐུ༔

gang la gang dul trulpé ku

To benefit each of those to be trained,

དཔག་ཏུ་མེད་པར་འབྱུང་བར་ཤོག༔

pak tu mepar jungwar shok

Every one according to their needs.

 

མདོར་ན་འཁོར་འདས་མ་ལུས་ཀུན༔

dorna khordé malü kün

May I realize the entirety of saṃsāra and nirvāṇa

གུ་རུ་ཉིད་དང་དབྱེར་མེད་ཅིང་༔

guru nyi dang yermé ching

Is your manifestation, Guru, inseparable from you,

སྐུ་གསུམ་འདུ་འབྲལ་མེད་པ་ཡི༔

ku sum dudral mepa yi

And by understanding the three kāyas to be forever indivisible,

རྣམ་མཁྱེན་སངས་རྒྱས་མྱུར་ཐོབ་ཤོག༔

namkhyen sangyé nyur tob shok

May I swiftly attain the omniscience of buddhahood.

 

སེམས་ཅན་གསོལ་བ་འདེབས་པར་ཤོག༔

semchen solwa debpar shok

May sentient beings offer their prayers,

བླ་མས་བྱིན་གྱིས་རློབས་པར་ཤོག༔

lamé jingyi lob par shok

May the masters grant their blessings,

ཡི་དམ་དངོས་གྲུབ་སྟེར་བར་ཤོག༔

yidam ngödrub terwar shok

May yidam deities grant attainments,

མཁའ་འགྲོས་ལུང་བསྟན་བྱེད་པར་ཤོག༔

khandrö lungten jepar shok

May ḍākinīs grant predictions,

ཆོས་སྐྱོང་བར་ཆད་བསལ་བར་ཤོག༔

chökyong barché salwar shok

May Dharma protectors dispel obstacles,

སངས་རྒྱས་བསྟན་པ་དར་ཞིང་རྒྱས་པར་ཤོག༔

sangyé tenpa dar shying gyepar shok

May the Buddha’s teaching spread and grow,

སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་བདེ་ཞིང་སྐྱིད་པར་ཤོག༔

semchen tamché dé shying kyipar shok

May all beings enjoy happiness and well-being,

ཉིན་དང་མཚན་དུ་ཆོས་ལ་སྤྱོད་པར་ཤོག༔

nyin dang tsen du chö la chöpar shok

May they live out the Dharma day and night,

རང་གཞན་དོན་གཉིས་ལྷུན་གྱིས་གྲུབ་པར་ཤོག༔

rangshyen dön nyi lhün gyi drubpar shok

May our own and others’ aims be spontaneously accomplished.

 

རང་བཞིན་དག་པའི་དགེ་བ་འདིས༔

rangshyin dakpé gewa di

Through this merit, pure by its very nature,

འཁོར་བ་ངན་སོང་དོང་སྤྲུག་ནས༔

khorwa ngensong dong truk né

Let saṃsāra’s depths, the lower realms, be emptied,

སྲིད་མཚོར་སླར་ཡང་མི་གནས་ཤིང་༔

si tsor lar yang mi né shing

So no longer we remain in this ocean of existence,

ཕྱམ་གཅིག་སྐུ་གསུམ་མངོན་གྱུར་ཤོག༔

chamchik ku sum ngön gyur shok

But actualize the three kāyas, together—all as one.

 

རྒྱལ་བ་ཀུན་གྱི་གསང་ཆེན་མཛོད༔

gyalwa kün gyi sang chen dzö

Great secret treasure of all the buddhas,

བླ་མེད་མཆོག་གི་བསྟན་པ་འདི༔

lamé chok gi tenpa di

Supreme, unsurpassed teaching of Dzogpachenpo,

ཇི་ལྟར་མཁའ་ལ་ཉི་ཤར་བཞིན༔

jitar kha la nyishar shyin

Like a sun rising in the sky,

རྒྱལ་ཁམས་ཡོངས་ལ་དར་རྒྱས་ཤོག༔

gyalkham yong la dargyé shok

Shine and spread through the entire world!

 

བདག་གི་དགེ་བའི་རྩ་བ་འདི་དང་དགེ་བའི་རྩ་བ་གཞན་དག་ཀྱང་བསྐྱེད་ནས༔

dak gi gewé tsawa di dang gewé tsawa shyendak kyang kyé né

May this merit and my other roots of virtue grow,

དཔལ་ལྡན་བླ་མའི་ཐུགས་དགོངས་ཡོངས་སུ་རྫོགས་པའི་ཡོན་ཏན་དང་ལྡན་པར་གྱུར་ཅིག༔

palden lamé tukgong yongsu dzokpé yönten dang denpar gyur chik

So that I embody all the precious qualities that fulfil the wishes of the perfect master,

སངས་རྒྱས་ཀྱི་བསྟན་པ་རིན་པོ་ཆེ་དར་ཞིང་རྒྱས་པར་བྱེད་པའི་སྐྱེས་བུ་སྟོབས་ལྡན་དུ་གྱུར་ཅིག༔

sangyé kyi tenpa rinpoché dar shying gyepar jepé kyebu tobden du gyur chik

I possess the power to spread and expand the Buddha’s precious teachings,

མཁྱེན་པ་དང་བརྩེ་བ་ནུས་པ་གསུམ་མཐར་ཕྱིན་ནས་རྫོགས་པའི་སངས་རྒྱས་སུ་གྱུར་ཅིག༔

khyenpa dang tsewa nüpa sum tarchin né dzokpé sangyé su gyur chik

I realize ultimate wisdom, love and capacity, and so become perfectly enlightened,

འགྲོ་བ་རིགས་དྲུག་ན་གནས་པའི་སེམས་ཅན་ཐམས་ཅད་འཁོར་བ་སྡུག་བསྔལ་གྱི་རྒྱ་མཚོ་ལས་བསྒྲལ་ཏེ་མྱུར་དུ་མངོན་པར་རྫོགས་པར་སངས་རྒྱས་པར་གྱུར་ཅིག༔

drowa rik druk na nepé semchen tamché khorwa dukngal gyi gyatso lé dral té nyurdu ngönpar dzokpar sangyé par gyur chik

And all sentient beings in the six realms are freed from saṃsāra’s great ocean of suffering, and quickly attain complete and perfect buddhahood.

བདག་འདྲ་པདྨ་གླིང་པས་ལྷོ་བྲག་སྨན་མདོའི་བྲག་སེང་གེའི་གདོང་པ་ཅན་ནས་གདན་དྲངས་པའོ། །

This was revealed by Pema Lingpa from the rock shaped like a lion’s head in the medicinal valley of Lhodrak.

| Rigpa Translations, 2014. Translated with reference to a teaching by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentsé Rinpoche at Lerab Ling on the occasion of the dungchö of Khandro Tsering Chödrön, September 2nd 2011.

from: www.lotsawahouse.org

 

Yeshe Tsogyal has long been a key figure in the Nyingma lineage, important to the Vidyadhara and the Sakyong. In the “Supplication to the Shambhala Lineage,” she is paired with “Lotus-born Padmakara” as “Wisdom Yeshe Tsogyal.” Her name means literally “wisdom ocean queen,” and her blessing is associated with the development of genuine nondual wisdom in our practice. She is also supplicated in a chant composed by the Fifteenth Karmapa that is sometimes done just after the Seven-Line Supplication in Vajrayana practice. This Yeshe Tsogyal chants serves as a complement to the chant to Guru Rinpoche in seven lines, for it expresses the aspects of wisdom, protection, and nurture associated with the indestructible realization of Guru Rinpoche, the father of Tibetan Buddhism. The Yeshe Tsogyal chant appears as part of the Rain of Blessings practice.

Supplication to Yeshe Tsogyal

Mother of all the victorious ones, dharmadhatu samantabhadri,
Very kind, only mother who protects the subjects of Tibet,
Bestower of supreme siddhi, chief among the dakinis of great bliss,
Yeshe Tsogyal, we supplicate at your feet.

Grant your blessings so that outer, inner, and secret obstacles may be pacified.
Grant your blessings so that the lives of the gurus may be long.
Grant your blessings so that this kalpa of disease, famine, and war may be pacified.
Grant your blessings so that the casting of curses, spells, and sorcery may be pacified.
Grant your blessings so that life, glory, and prajña¥ may increase.
Grant your blessings so that our wishes may be fulfilled spontaneously.

This was written by Khakhyap Dorje [Karmapa XV], the boy nurtured by the jñanadakinis. May virtue and goodness increase! Translated by the Vajravairochana Translation Committee, used with permission.
This chant clarifies Yeshe Tsogyal’s importance for especially the Dzogchen lineage of Samantabhadra, the primordial Buddha of the Nyingma. First, she is called “mother of all the victorious ones,” the buddhas of the three times, which is also an epithet for the Prajnaparamita, the “wisdom-gone-beyond” in the sutra tradition. She is the mother because it is through realizing our wisdom-minds that we and all sentient beings will become buddhas. Next, she is called Samantabhadri, the feminine aspect the primordial Buddha of the Nyingma, Samantabhadra, also known as the All-Good One; therefore, she is the feminine aspect of basic goodness. She is called “very kind” for she is the nurturer of Tibetan Buddhist practitioners. As a wisdom-dakini, it is she who bestows the supreme siddhi of enlightenment. She is the queen of all “great-bliss” dakinis, those who awaken our most intimate experience of wisdom of bliss and emptiness, the highest realization of meditation.

In Heart of the Buddha, The Vidyadhara said of mahasukha, or great bliss,

“mahasukha is an actual experience of bliss–a physical, psychological, total experience of joy that comes from being completely without discursive thoughts, completely in the realm of nonthought. One unites with the nondual awake state of being.”
The Vajrayana practitioner asks for Yeshe Tsogyal’s blessings in six areas of support. First, she is supplicated so that obstacles in our lives, practice, and minds may be removed or disarmed. She is asked to support the long lives of our teachers, upon whom we rely for instruction, guidance, and blessings. She is asked to mitigate the forces of setting-sun world—both the dark age of “disease, famine and war” and the human karma of struggle that expresses itself as “curses, spells, and sorcery.” She is asked to nurture the blossoming of long life, the glory, and the prajna, or penetrating insight, of all beings. Lastly, she is asked to fulfill the dharmic wishes of all practitioners.

Yeshe Tsogyal’s life and meaning

As a Woman
According to all Tibetan stories about her, Yeshe Tsogyal was an historical woman who lived in Tibet in the eighth century. Like the historical Buddha Sakyamuni, she had a human conception, birth, life and death, and became enlightened in a single lifetime. As princess of the kingdom of Karchen, she married the king of Tibet, Trisong Detsen, and became one of his queens. Her spiritual teacher was Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche, who is always credited with having a pivotal role in the transmission of Buddhism to Tibet. She was his most important student, and after his death she propagated the Vajrayana teachings throughout Tibet, and so was an important teacher in her own right, indispensable to Guru Rinpoche’s work and success. As an historical, real woman, Yeshe Tsogyal is important as an enlightened role model for women in a context that often seems lacking in female role models. Yeshe Tsogyal was chosen by the Sakyong precisely because she was a real Tibetan woman, rather than an abstract non-human symbol like Tara or Prajnaparamita.

According to the Nyingma accounts, Yeshe Tsogyal achieved buddhahood, the immortality of the vajra body, and continues to come in visions to those of pure aspiration.

Events in the life of Yeshe Tsogyal:

Prehistory and birth
Youth and marriage
Meeting the guru
Teaching and instruction
Practice and retreat
Signs of accomplishment
Benefitting beings
Buddhahood

As representation of the feminine principle
Inseparable from her humanity is Yeshe Tsogyal as manifestation of the feminine principle–experiential nondual wisdom that takes female form (as well as male form) when it is represented symbolically. This means that the historical Yeshe Tsogyal is also an emanation of the enlightened feminine principle in much the same way that Guru Rinpoche is the emanation of the enlightened masculine principle. Feminine wisdom and masculine skillful means are the two axes of enlightened mind—wisdom without skillful means is ineffectual, and means without wisdom is not skillful. Only when each has been cultivated in our practice and the two are experienced in union, inseparably, can our enlightenment blossom.

In the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon, Yeshe Tsogyal appears on three levels: in a physically embodied, historical, human form (nirmanakaya), she appears as the princess of Karchen, Yeshe Tsogyal, a queen of Tibet. In a visionary, symbolic body (sambhogakaya), she is known as Vajrayogini, one of the most important female yidams (deities used as a support for meditation) of Tibetan Buddhism, practiced as a Vajrayana ritual in the Shambhala Buddhist lineage. In her most subtle, formless essence of open space aspect (dharmakaya), she is Samantabhadri, the female side of the primordial Buddha Samantabhadra, the essence of basic goodness, the direct nature of mind, and ultimate source of the lineage in Nyingma Buddhism. (See Simmer-Brown, pp. 65-69, for a description of these three levels of her manifestation.)

Inseparability
In her story and symbolism, these two aspects of her being, as historic human being and as manifestation of the Buddha’s three-fold manifestation (trikaya) are always intricately interwoven. Telling one side of the story without the other distorts the story. For example, the story of her conception and birth is told twice, once for her as manifestation of the feminine principle, and once recounting her human parents and their conception of her. As both an ordinary human being and a manifestation of the Buddha’s three-fold manifestation, Yeshe Tsogyal is no different in her makeup from us, except that she has recognized her inherent nature more completely. In this way also, she is our role model and guide.

As the feminine wisdom aspect of the lineage, she has also taken the role of protector of the wisdom journey of the Vajrayana practitioner. As such, she and her retinue ensure the integrity of the teachings, the teacher, the students, the time and the place of Vajrayana practice and transmission. It is her responsibility to guarantee the proper continuation of the teachings, and of the community of practitioners. This is why the Vajrayana student asks for her blessings in a prayer.

Is the story of Yeshe Tsogyal true?
Western historians of Tibetan Buddhism do not mention Yeshe Tsogyal in their accounts of the introduction of Buddhism to Tibet because they regard her as a legendary figure. Most western students of Tibetan Buddhism are much more aware of Guru Rinpoche’s story than they are of the accounts of Yeshe Tsogyal. However, Tibetans themselves treasure her story–they regard Guru Rinpoche without Yeshe Tsogyal as incomplete, just as the masculine principle is incomplete without the feminine principle. She was essential to his full manifestation as a Vajrayana teacher, to his Buddha activity, to his creation of the collection of termas or hidden treasure teachings, and to his effective subjugation of obstacles to dharma practice. As practitioners, we would do well to take Tibetan sensibilities as a model for ourselves. Even if Yeshe Tsogyal’s life were not established historically, we still must tell her story because Guru Rinpoche’s life and activity would be incomplete without her.

This article is an excerpt from the primer Introducing the YESHE TSOGYAL BANNER, which is offered on www.shambhala.org as a guide to conducting a feminine principle event at your local centre.

 

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