The eleventh incarnations of Lama Chabdak, Lama Konchog Tenzin, a Kargyupa yogi, was a contemporary of the fifteenth Karmapa Kachab Dorje.
Konchog Tenzin was born in 1871, at Yomnak Sakkryi, the provincial town of Gerjel. His father, Sangnga Regzin Dorje, was a realized Nyingmapa yogi and the nephew of the King of Nangchen. His mother was called Donla.
At his birth many miraculous and auspicious signs and omens appeared, and the holy and clairvoyant Bodhisattvas immediately recognized him as the eleventh incarnation. He was conveyed in a magnificent procession to Zuru Gompa where there were now 300 monks. He was given the tenth incarnation's robes, hats and Tantric instruments and was installed with much ceremony as the recognized Bodhisattva emanation at the age of seven.
So great was his compassion and wisdom that when he was eight, his tutor had only to start teaching the first few lines of any treatise for him to remember the entire content of the work and to recite and give explanations of it. He learned Dharma, grammar, Sanskrit, poetry, medicine and astrology. His tutor was his uncle who was the Prince of Nangchen and the teacher of the King.
When he was seventeen, he went to the Dergye province in eastern Kham to study at the great Kargyupa center for meditators, Dergye Pepung. From the famous teacher, Kongtrul Yonten Gyaltso, and Lama Suti Pema Nyanche Rinpoche he received the complete teachings on the Sutras as well as transmission of the Tantras, and was continually engaged in meditation.
Having received the complete teachings from his kind and holy lamas, Konchog Tenzin retired to a cave at Tsadra Rinchen Dak to meditate on the profound and all-encompassing meanings of the Sutra and Tantra.
After finishing his preliminary practices, he meditated on the Six Yogas of Naropa and the other secret tantras. Having completed his retreat he made a pilgrimage to Lhasa and the three great monastic universities of Sera, Gaden and Drepung. He then continued on his pilgrimage to the holy place of Wolka where Tzong Khapa made his 3,500,000 prostrations and made purification and insight retreats.
From Wolka he traveled to Karmapa's great monastery of Tudlung Surpu. There he met the fifteenth Karmapa, Kachab Dorje, who asked him to remain at his monastery for a long time to give detailed teachings and initiations; but after only one year he returned to Zuru Gompa.
After a while he journeyed to Dergye Pepung again and was offered the position of Supreme Abbot. He stayed two years, during which time he gave many teachings and initiations, later returning to his own monastery. He was then thirty-two.
Red Chenrezig, Gyalwa Gyaltso
Lama Konchog Tenzin then went to a closed retreat in silence. He practiced the Tantra of Avalokiteshvara Jina Sargan (Tib. Chenrezig Gyalwa Gyaltso — a secret and effective practice of Red Chenrezig). By the age of fifty-three he had completed one billion (1,000 million) Red Chenrezig mantras. Each day he took the eight Mahayanist precepts and made many prostrations.
He grew two new teeth, a sign of the realization of Chenrezig; and Red Chenrezig and many other deities appeared to him. He had great psychic perception and profound realizations. Although he showed only his closest students, he clearly perceived the nature of Samsara and Nirvana and their inseparability (3). He was able to see Red Chenrezig at any time. He was a great practitioner of Heruka Chakrasamvara and Vajrayogini. He had many students from all over the Land of Snows who came to Zuru Gompa to receive teachings and initiations.
Generally Lama Tenzin could easily see the wisdom and insight others had and their accumulation of good and bad karma. He was a famous astrologer and could predict the coming of the winter snows and the amount of summer sunshine with precision. He wrote the renowned astrological treatise Chedup Gongdrel which is still in use today.
Due to his powers, Lama Tenzin could completely control the weather. In Tibet sometimes so much snow fell on the low plateaus that the wind couldn't sweep it away and snow covered all the grass that the animals ate. By stopping the snow and making the already fallen snow disappear, he saved countless lives. During the summer he could bring rain to the parched and drought-ridden plateaus by means of his weather control pujas. He was able to predict the coming of famine and disease and advise precautions.
He could also see the spirits in rocks, mountains, water and air as well as their methods of communication and what they said. Besides being able to talk with them himself, Konchog Tenzin could completely subdue all the spirits by peaceful and wrathful actions and order the white spirits to do what he wanted to benefit sentient beings. He helped so many spirits liberated through his Chod practice.
One day Lama Konchog Tenzin's cook was very sick; he was hallucinating and unable to sleep at night. The cook asked Lama Tenzin for his blessing so that he could regain his health and peace of mind. The cook, who normally slept in his own room, went to bed that night in the lama's apartments.
At midnight the cook heard Lama talking with someone. Konchog Tenzin, who was always in meditation, was looking out his window, immersed in conversation. The lama turned to the cook and told him to give a certain needle which the cook apparently had. The cook couldn't immediately recall such a needle; but upon reflection he remembered picking up an unusual needle in a remote place and without thinking he had put it in his amulet box. The cook then gave this needle to Lama Tenzin.
Lama handed the needle through the window and said, "You take this needle back now, please."
The servant was perplexed and asked the lama to explain his actions. Lama replied that he was talking to the spirit who owned the needle and that this spirit had chased the cook and made him sick. The spirit appeared to Lama to beg for the return of his needle, agreeing not to harm the cook further. The cook straight away fell into a relieved sleep, and the next morning all his ailments were gone.
At the age of forty-five, Lama met a very learned Geshe from Amdo who was travelling home from Drebung Gomung Tratzang. On the way the Geshe fell ill and rested at Zuru Gompa. Lama received the Amdo Geshe and was impressed by his scholastic knowledge of the Sutras. From him Lama received teachings on Madhyamika philosophy, the Six Logical Treatises of Nagarjuna, the Prajnaparamita, the Five Dharmas of Maitreya and Tzong Khapa's Lam Rim Chenmo. For two years Lama studied with this great teacher, before the Amdo Geshe resumed his journey.
Lama Je Tsongkhapa
Through this Geshe's teaching, Konchog Tenzin became interested in the Gelug tradition and felt an awakening of faith towards Je Tzong Khapa. He advised his students that when they wished to study the root philosophies of Lord Buddha they go to the Gelug monastic universities to receive these teachings. Lama regarded Amdo Geshe as his guru because the profound teachings he received on Nagarjuna's philosophy were in exact accordance with his own earlier realizations. He often said he prayed to receive more Gelug teachings in his next life, as he had only studied them for two years.
When he was sixty-one, Lama Konchog Tenzin was requested by the famous Lama Tzongsar Chentze Rinpoche to write many Tantric sadhanas. Lama then wrote root texts, daily recitation manuals, meditations, peaceful and wrathful rituals, commentaries, mandala pujas and initiation texts on the all-powerful Yamantaka (Tib. Dorje Jigje) practice of the direct attainment of Enlightenment to quickly benefit all sentient beings. He failed to complete the Yamantaka commentary as he felt the time had come for him to pass away.
He predicted he would pass away at the age of sixty-three. From all over Tibet many high lamas and students hastened to Zuru Gompa to join in the big prayers requesting him to remain in his present body. As Lama Tenzin was dying, he described to his close students the many peaceful and wrathful deities and dakinis he could see. Sitting in the vajra position, he remained in meditation and passed away at the age of sixty-three, in 1934.
At the time of his passing, many incredibly powerful and auspicious signs manifested. Many relics and relic sils were recovered from his ashes, and on his bones appeared sudur (4).
Before Lama Konchog Tenzin died, he predicted that he would be reborn in 1937, in the Tiger year. His father's name would be Ngawang Losang and his mother's name, Pelzum. Konchog Tenzin could clearly see where he was to be reborn, so no recognition search for his reincarnation was necessary.
The students of the eleventh Zasep Tulku found the parents Lama had mentioned, and on his birth the clairvoyant Bodhisattvas happily confirmed that the child born to this family was indeed the twelfth Tulku.
In Gerjel province was the monastery of Jetrung Gompa. The abbot of this monastery, Jetrung Rinpoche, gave the twelfth Tulku the name Konchog Gyurme.
Jetrung Rinpoche was a very holy yogi and besides having great psychic powers he was a terton, or finder of concealed texts (5)—a sign of great spiritual realizations. This terton lama predicted the communist invasions of 1951 and 1959. He had a consort (wife).
Jetrung Rinpoche suggested that Konchog Gyurme be brought to Zuru Gompa and quickly enthroned, as the young Tulku's life was in danger. The young lama never reached the monastery. He died at the age of seven, in 1945. At his death many rainbows and auspicious signs appeared, and relics and relic sils were recovered from his ashes.
4. Sudur looks like a film of red mud and is used for marking purposes during some initiations. The appearance of this substance on Lama's bones at the time of death showed his attainment of Red Chenrezig.
5. These texts (terma) are written by the great master meditators of Tibet and concealed in secret places (e.g. inside caves). The instructions in these treasure texts are secret and have been lost from the orally transmitted teachings and practices of the Tantras. The time for removal of a text comes up when the instructions in it are needed by meditators. The finders, or removers (terton), of these texts are certain Bodhisattvas who recover them at the appropriate time centuries later. The tertons alone can read the secret symbol language in which these terma texts are written. The Bardo Thotol (Book of the Dead) by Guru Padmasambhava is an example of a terma text.
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