The Tradition of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism

Yeshe Thaye

The lineages of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhist teachings are classified into three different types : the long transmission (Ring Gyu) of the extensive Kama, the short transmission (Nye Gyu) of the profound Terma, and the extremely short transmission of Pure Visions (Dag Nang) when teachings were directly received by the Masters in pure visions from gurus and/or deities.

The Dzogchen Nyingthig Lineage of the Long Transmission (Kama)

According to the Nine Yanas of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, the highest teaching is known as the Great Perfection ( Dzogpa Chenpo or Atiyoga ), which is the direct method for realizing the nature of the mind and for attaining Buddhahood in this very body. The "Heart Essence" teachings ( Nyingthig ) explain precisely the various methods for directly actualizing the innermost teachings of the Dzogpa Chenpo. Thus the Dzogchen Nyingthig, as a teaching, fundamentally deals with the expression of the doctrine of the Three Perfect Bodies ( Kayas ) of a Fully Awakened Being, and this tradition has been transmitted through the three lineages of spiritual transmission as follows :-

(a) The Wisdom Mind Lineage of the Buddhas - this spiritual transmission is from the Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra (Kuntuzangpo) of Dharmakaya to the Five Self-manifesting Buddhas of the Sambhogakaya. In this lineage, the teacher transmits the teachings to a disciple, without using words or any other indications, only with his all pervading wisdom mind.

(b) The Symbolic Lineage of the Awareness-Holders(Vidyadhara) - the Sambhogakaya Buddha Vajrasattva (Dorje Sempa) transmitted all empowerments and teachings to the Nirmanakaya Prahevajra (Garab Dorje), the first human master. It was from Prahevajra that this transmission was passed onto Manjushrimitra, Shri Simha, Jnanasutra, Mahapandita Vimalamitra and Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche). Here, an Awareness-Holder, a being who has direct and pure vision of the nature of reality, manifests to a receptive disciple and transmits the teachings by means of pronouncing a mantra or showing a sign.

(c) The Oral Lineage of the Realized Beings - here the complete verbal empowerments and instructions are transmitted by word of mouth from the masters to the disciples. This lineage of spiritual transmission in Tibet initially spread through two traditions in the beginning at the early part of the ninth century. One tradition originated from Mahapandita Vimalamitra and is came to be known as the "Vima Nyingthig" The other tradition originated from Guru Padmasambhava and is came to be known as the "Khandro Nyingthig" Then, it was later that both of these Innermost Essence transmissions meet in Kunkhyen Longchen Rabjampa, from whom the uninterrupted oral transmission of these teachings have extended until the present day.

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