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Kathok Lineage

Kathok Lineage

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A Brief History of the Kathok Lineage and MonasteryGiven by HH Getse Rinpoche September 28, 2007
As many people know, Buddhism came to Tibet from India owing to the compassion of threemain propagators: Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava), the Great Bodhisattva Khenpo, andthe Dharma King Trisong Detsen.While there were many students and famous accomplished masters that came from GuruRinpoche, the most well known are the 25 disciples of Guru Rinpoche. One of these, NyakJnana Kumaradza, became the owner and transmitter of the Nyingma teachings called Do,Gyud, Sem Sum, which means the three categories of Sutra, Tantra and Mind teachings.These three categories of teachings were transmitted in their entirety from master to studentas follows: From Nyak Jnana Kumaradza to to Nup Chen Sange Yeshe to So Yeshe Jungneto Zur Chen Sakya Jungne to Zhur Chung Sherab Trakpa to Samdrak Dro Tukpa to ZamtenGyalwe Gampo to Kathok Kadampa Deshek Sherab Senge.Kathok Kadampa Deshek, the founder of Kathok, not only received these three categories of Nyingma teachings in their entirety, but he also studied all of the other Dharma traditions inexistence at that time. While there was not yet a Gelug tradition, there were the KadampaGeshes, and from them he learned the Bodhisattva path of the Lam Rim, the gradual stagesof the path. From the Sakya master Sonam Padmo and others he received instructions onLam Dre, the Path and Fruition. And from the Kagyu tradition he studied from Milarepa'sstudents Rechungpa Dorje Drakpa, Repa Zhiwa Öd and Gampopa, whose Tibetan name wasDakpo Lhaje, receiving all of the Mahamudra and other instructions of that tradition. So notonly had he received the lineage of the Nyingma tradition in its entirety, but also all of thedifferent lineages of Dharma that were being transmitted at that time. There was no Dharmathat he hadn't received and wasn't a holder of, so all of the lineages converged in him and hestudied them all.Kathok Kadampa Deshek was born in eastern Tibet in Kham, in the area of Derge. After having studied all of the teachings that he received, he was given Lung-Ten – a prophesy –by both of his root teachers, Zamten Gyalwe Gampo and Dakpo Lhaje (Gampopa). Theprophesy was that if he were to go to the mountain of Kumbo, he would achieve RainbowBody, but if he were instead to establish a monastery of Kathok, then his teachings wouldremain for 1000 years and 100,000 beings would be able to gain enlightenment there.Following this prophesy, many manifestations of the great Bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara,
HH Getse – Kathok LineageSeptember 27, 2007Page 1 of 8
 
Manjushri, and Chana Dorje (Vajrapani) appeared to him, and he thought to himself, "Thosethree Lords would have an opportunity to manifest and benefit beings, and so immensebenefit would come through that." And then he thought to himself, "It's OK if I don't attainRainbow Body as long as I can bring about this great benefit and enable others to do so." Sothen he remained there in Kham and when he was about 30 years old, he established theKathok monastery there as a seat for receiving Dharma teachings.The land on which Kathok Monastery was established was given by Guru Rinpoche in aprophesy in one of his writings. And Guru Rinpoche himself spent 25 days there on thatplace, so it's very blessed, one of the sacred spots in Tibet. It's called Ka Thok Dorje Den,one of perhaps 25 very holy sites of Guru Rinpoche in the area of Do Kham. In that specificlocation there is a thin flat rock that has the depiction of a double crossed Vajra, which wascalled "Dorje Gatramo". And on top of that was the syllable Ka (the first letter of the Tibetanalphabet). And so "Kathok" means, "On top of Ka". The monastery was built right there ontop of that Ka, situated with that double Dorje on that rock. And so it is a very special place.The words, "Dorje Den" are the same in Tibetan as for Bodh Gaya. All together Ka ThokDorje Den means "The Vajra Seat of Kathok". This monastery was first established around845 years ago or so (sometime around 1159 - 1162 CE).Between Kathok Kadampa Deshek and his two main students Tsong Tsem Dorje Gyaltenand Sand Dak Jhampa Bum, they ordained and taught about 80,000 students. Their mainstudents were “the 3 supreme listeners of Rong-Bo”, who were from an area of Gyarongwhich is near the Chinese and Tibetan border. At that time the primary Buddhist practice inDo-Kham was the Nyingma tradition, and at that time there weren’t other schools within theNyingma. It wasn’t as it is today.Then later, the next three major holders of the transmitted lineage were the Bumpa NamSum, who were the three Bumpa. And they were primarily the students of Jhampa Bum, whowas mentioned before. Then after them Lhungten Bum Zhi, the four sons of Lhungten.[Paloma interjects, “Someday I will actually know these names because I’m translating theKathok history.] And then they did a lot of work – they began to establish many branchmonasteries. At that time the person who stayed in the main monastery was Sonam Bumpaof the four sons of Lhungten. Sonam Bumpa was the one that actually stayed in Kathok andheld the seat at the monastery. [Paloma adds, “So I think what it is is that each of their names probably has Bumpa in it and they’re all four sons of one lama, so they called themthe four sons of Lhungten, or something like that.”]So we’re not going in a completely linear manner, the three that we previously mentionedwere Sonam Bum, Yeshe Bum, and Changchup Bum. At this point there were around180,000 students practicing within the Kathok tradition, all of them fully ordained monks andpractitioners. And these 180,000 different practitioners were not just merely individuals who
HH Getse – Kathok LineageSeptember 27, 2007Page 2 of 8
 
paid lip service to the teachings and their vows, but sincere practitioners of great knowledgeand adept accomplishment. For instance, they included the omniscient Jigme Lingpa, andthe Kathok Getse Maha Pandita, and His Holiness Jigdrel Yeshe Dorje, who was theprevious emanation of Dudjom Rinpoche and so forth. And so within the Nyingma traditionwe have some very famous and accomplished masters.[Paloma adds, “This is not a linear history at this point; we’re just looking at some of themasters that you find historical reference to, and that happen to be of the Kathok lineage.”]At that time there were so many practitioners that when they got together for Sojong for purification of their vows – and also for their traditional 45 day summer retreat – they of course couldn't fit in a shrine room, so they stayed throughout the forest and valleys, whichwere filled with monks. For the ceremonies they all wore their patched yellow robes, andthere were so many of them that the radiance from the yellow cloth on their backs made thesky turn yellow with a golden shimmer.Looking at the lineage more in chronological order, we have the Ter Chok Sum, the LhumpaSum, the Lung Sem Su Yi – these were all lineage holders who have numbers and some kindof a family name, all of whom were very accomplished masters, all of them very learned, andall relying on the scriptures and on very pure vows of pure ordination.Then following that there were the Sungrab Chu Sum, which is the thirteen Sungrab, then wehave ten Rabjung Suchung – probably Rinpoche says, there were thirteen of them too –which is like the Great Exalted Khenpos that came. Then following that we have the thirteenpractitioners of Mograb, and then many different holders of the pith instructions andteachings. Then we have Sag La Ring Jung, and Ringdzin Duddul Dorje, and he was one of the great and famous tertons of Kathok, and following him came a whole line of accomplishedtertons, treasure revealers.Then Lung Zhin Cho Dak Kathok Denba, and following him we have many of what they call –Cho Dak is a complicated word in English that we don’t have a direct translation for but it’ssort of like the owner or holder of certain Dharma practices and treasures. And the holders of these within the Kathok who help maintain the main seat of Kathok, were many accomplishedand sacred realized masters.And then we have the famous treasure revealers, tertons, Rigdzin Duddul Dorje and LongselNyingpo, the main founders, and it wasn’t until after that the teachings spread out. We talkabout the different Nyingma monasteries that sprouted up that have different names. It wasonly after this flourishing of Kathok that other Nyingma monasteries began to sprout up withdifferent names: Mindrol Ling, Du Drak, Payul, Dzogchen, Shekhyen, these began to spreadout next. Before that there wasn’t even the name of these different monasteries. So whenwe look at the different Nyingma monasteries now, their source was the Kathok lineage, andthey sprouted from there.
HH Getse – Kathok LineageSeptember 27, 2007Page 3 of 8

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