Gyalwa Gyamtso and Chenrezig’s Connection to the Gyalwang Karmapa

Editor’s note: In 2015 His Eminence Gyaltsap Rinpoche bestowed the empowerment of Chenrezig Gyalwa Gyamtso at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim. His opening remarks revealed the deep connection between Chenrezig and the Gyalwang Karmapas. We reproduce it here for your interest and inspiration. Karmapa Chenno!

His Eminence the 12th Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche bestowing 17 precious empowerments from 5-21 October, 2015 at Rumtek Monastery (International Seat of His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje). Gangtok, Sikkim, India, 10 October, 2015 Photo, Karma Doljiang
His Eminence the 12th Goshir Gyaltsab Rinpoche bestowing 17 precious empowerments from the 5th to the 21st of October, 2015 at Rumtek Monastery, Gangtok, Sikkim, India, on the 10th of October, 2015.         Photo, Karma Doljiang

We are each born endowed with a precious human life due to the merit we have accumulated in our past lives. The Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, in his Profound Inner Meaning, measured life by the breaths we take everyday and explained how our life ends moment by moment. For many of us, this is beyond our ordinary understanding. Practically speaking, we can count our lives by years. We might live for seventy or eighty years. But very soon our body decays and we are caught by various diseases. Suddenly one day we find ourselves in the emergency wards of hospitals. Doctors tell us how many months or days we have left. Even if we want to practice dharma at that time, there is not enough time left.

It is said that human beings don’t have enough merit to access the Vajrayana teachings during the time of other buddhas. However, human beings, by virtue of their merit, have the opportunity to access the complete teachings of the Vajrayana only during the time of Buddha Shakyamuni. We should therefore recognize and rejoice in our good fortune in having such merit.

Today’s empowerment is Gyalwa Gyamtso. The Buddha taught this practice of Chenrezik in sutras, and it is also taught in kriya tantra, charya tantra, yoga tantra and anutara yoga tantras. The yogi Zalandra personally received this teaching from Chenrezik, which he then transmitted to Guru Padmasambhava. Guru Padmasambhava gave it to Machik Drupai Gyalmo, a great yogini. She gave it to Tiphupa, who gave it to Rechungpa. Tiphupa also sent Rechung to Machik Drupai Gyalmo, who gave Rechungpa an even more extensive teaching than he had previously received. Rechungpa then offered it to his own guru, Milarepa.

According to another lineage of this teaching, when Guru Padmasambhava went to Tibet he first subdued all the maras and devils so that the teachings could flourish there without obstacles. Once all the hostile obstacles were pacified, Guru Rinpoche gave this teaching to his consort Khandro Yeshi Tsogyal. Khandro Yeshi Tsogayl hid this text in a place called Lhodrak in Southern Tibet. It was later discovered by Terton Nyangral Nyima Oser. Rechungpa also received this lineage from Nyangral Nyima’s son, Nyangsay Mikyoe Dorje. After receiving the teaching from all the lineages, Rechungpa gave it to Zangri Repa.

The teaching was then transmitted to the second Karmapa, Karma Pakshi. As soon as Karma Pakshi received this empowerment, he saw a Chenrezik that filled the whole sky. Karma Pakshi went to Sharchok Pungri and practiced the teaching where he had many visions of Gyalwa Gyatso in various forms and different number of hands. It is said that Karmapa and Gyalwa Gyatso became inseparable after that. This is why Karma Pakshi said that, in the future, all the Karmapas would be inseparable from Gyalwa Gyatso. Hence the Karmapas are known as the emanation of Chenrezik.

The second Karmapa was invited to China by Monkhe Khan, the Mongolian emperor. At that time, he performed many inconceivable miracles to subdue the emperor’s negative spirits and bring his mind to dharma. Karma Pakshi said he was able to do so because of his practice of Gyalwa Gyatso. Not only that, the second Karmapa was able to bring both Mongke Khan and Kublai Khan, who were the most powerful emperors in the world at that time, into the dharma through his great miracles. Both Khans became the greatest dharma patrons. The second Karmapa was able to accomplish all of this because of his practice of Gyalwa Gyatso.

The Karma Pakshi also said that, due to his accomplishment of this practice, there would be 25 successive reincarnations of Karmapas in an unbroken line which would greatly benefit beings and teachings.

In summary, this teaching is very important for our lineage. His Holiness the 16th Karmapa gave the empowerment of this teaching at Swayambu, Nepal, which is where I received this empowerment.

— His Eminence Gyaltsab Rinpoche