Sunday, December 10, 2023

The Only Terma in the Matho Termas

Shrî Seng-ha, after the Gting-skyes edition, vol. 4

One thing that has puzzled me about the 1261 history of Indian and Tibetan Buddhism associated with Scholar Deyu is its nearly complete disinterest in Terma revealers. What makes this even more remarkable is that the anonymous author of this and works related to it had Nyingma lineage connections in addition to Zhijé. Other authors with a great fondness for Nyingma teachings share this trait, most prominently Gö Lotsawa and his Blue Annals of 1478. The most celebrated Tertons of the 12th and 13th centuries, Nyangral and Chöwang, are basically overlooked, even if Gö does mention them as a pair twice, succinctly and in passing. Of course the Nyingma school has more to offer than Termas, including Kama (Bka’-ma) texts believed to have a continual transmission above ground. These Kama texts are the ones championed by both Gö and the anonymous writer of the Long Deyu.

Reading the Deyu history in particular might make us wonder if the influence of Nyangral and Chöwang as Tertons might have been limited, restricted to a relatively small locality. Surely if their Termas had overtaken the whole range of the high Himalayas they would have been impossible to overlook. Another possibility is that the two historians we just mentioned could have distrusted the whole idea of revelation through textual excavations. Not ready to pronounce on this, I do think it worthwhile to consider just how successful the Tertons may or may not have been in popularizing their revelations among the broader public. Was it a problem of credibility, or just that news of them and their revelations hadn’t reached so many ears?

A veritable time capsule with a closure date around 1200, the Matho discoveries could help us with our historical thinking along such lines as these. Now that we have datable fragments from around a thousand texts representing a large variety of texts of various schools that flourished in Western Tibet in 11th-12th centuries (for a handlist look here) available for study, we should be able to gauge quite a number of things, among them the influence of Termas (specific ones as well as their related cultural traditions). But after leafing through all the scans of Matho fragments, only one Terma was in evidence.  So we will have to content ourselves by looking at that one Terma alone. Then we might see if this very small sampling can tell us anything about the developing Terma tradition and its reach.

The set of scans labelled vol. 369, like so many of the Matho texts, is in booklet form, with simple signatures joining very wide and narrow leaves folded over at the middle and stitched at the folds. Despite their booklet formats there can be some disorder as folios may have broken at the fold and separated from the booklet, or pages may have simply gotten mixed in with the booklet pages for no good reason. It isn’t always easy to be sure of such things from scans, and I will try not to burden you with codicological refinements. Have a look at this sample (click to enlarge).

Scan 13 of v369 of BDRC W1BL9

The specific folios that most interest us are scan nos. 11-14 of vol. 369, in other words, two leaves only, that appear to have never belonged together with the rest. The condition of the leaves, their size, and style of writing etc. are markedly different. The subject matter, too, contrasts dramatically. While the booklet as a whole is about fierce protector magic, the leaves in question are about Buddhist philosophy with much mention of Madhyamaka (here called U-ma rather than the expected spelling Dbu-ma) using specialized terms of philosophical logic and debate like chos-can. I notice, too, it uses some odd terminology like 'dod-tog (used quite a bit in Matho v425, another logico-philosophical fragment, but I can’t tell you what it means; I’m guessing it may be a short form of ’dod-pa’i rtog-pa or the like).*

(*Added note, April 17, 2024: I now see that Matho v478 uses the term, too, only there it is spelled ’dod-thog, which would lead our etymologizing in a different direction. Actually the spelling ’dod-thog is the one well testified in BDRC search results, although it is only common in pre-Mongol works, and Bon commentaries on pre-Mongol works.)

Instead of getting invested in logico-epistemological metaphysics, as intellectually engrossing as that could be, let’s leave it aside and dive directly into that colophon. I’ll just type it out in Wylie (marking persons in blue and places green), then write my own comments about each section of it without necessarily translating every detail, and finally say why I think it might cause us to rethink or imagine how we might change our views about the early history of Tibetan Terma traditions.

'di ni chos kyi [insert?] gnya' non yin te / gnyis la myi spel / cig las rgyun myi gcad do // gdam ngag 'di ni shi ri sing ngas / be ro tsa na la bshad / des g.yu' sgra bsnyel mo la bshad / des bum thang rtsi lung gi lha khang gi gter du sbas so //

Let me translate this very important part because it tells us who concealed it. For a change the concealer was neither Padmasambhava nor his consort Yeshe Tsogyal: 

“This is a heavy dharmic yoke. It will not be propounded to two, through one its continuity will be ensured. These precepts were taught by Śrīsiṃha to Vairocana, and the latter taught them to Yudra Nyelmo, while the latter hid them as Treasure (Gter) of the Bumtang Tsilung Temple.” 

Śrīsiṃha is a name well known to every student of Dzogchen in the Nyingma school. It may well be that despite his Sanskritic name he was a Central Asian, or more specifically a Sogdian, and more closely associated with China than with India. In those days there was a Sogdian expat community in the capital city Chang-an (Xi’an). This all requires sorting out. 

The traditional story about how the Tibetan monk Vairocana went to India to find Atiyoga teaching accompanied by a single traveling companion has been subject of an earlier blog dubbed “Kashgar Tiger.” 

The normal way to spell the name of Vairocana’s disciple is G.yu-sgra Snying-po. It may well be that the spelling we have here, given that it looks quite odd, would be a genuine old spelling. The name of a Minister G.yu-sgra does occur in a Dunhuang text, and I do think they are likely to be one and the same person. Vairocana himself grew up among members of the imperial court as his father fulfilled ambassadorial functions (see that same “Kashgar Tiger” blog). The name element Bsnyel-mo I suppose might be a nickname he received for being forgetful, sickly or lazy, but more likely it associates him with a clan or place name (Snyel-’or is known as an early clan name associated with western Tibet), although nothing in this is sure enough to push in the flag pins.  

It says the temple where it was concealed was Bum-thang Rtsi-lung, and the only other reference I could immediately find was to a place called Bum-thang Rtsis-lung, a place Kongtrul’s Terton history associates with the text discoveries of Bonpo Dragtsal.* The last part of this Terton’s name, Dragtsal, means Rocky Grove, while the first part leaves no doubt he was a Bonpo, at least by birth.

(*Other even more important references to Bum-thang Rtsi-lung may be found in Sørensen’s book, p. 275, end of note 856.)

Now let’s see what our colophon says about the revealer of our text.

de nas mye nag kha so bas ’phra’ dang bton no //

des gnyan bston shes rab rdo rje la bshad do //

des sras bla ma nyi khri ’bar la bshad do //

The first line says the one who encountered ('phrad?) and extracted (bton) it was the Tangut Khasowa. He instructed Gnyan-ston Shes-rab-rdo-rje in it, while the latter instructed his son, the Lama Nyi-khri-’bar (‘Blazing like Ten Thousand Suns’?).  

As this tells us the earliest history of the text at the time it was being excavated and immediately afterwards, it is especially significant. So it will be disappointing if we can’t identify the revealer precisely. Mye-nyag and Me-nyag are common spellings for Mi-nyag, in earlier times definitely a name for Tanguts, even if as an ethnonym it could have been appropriated by non-Tanguts later on (I suppose), although there was an awareness that the Tangut royal family took refuge in Tibet where they left a lot of descendants. In 1200, the Tangut Kingdom was still thriving far up beyond the northeastern quadrant of the Plateau, not knowing its population would face annihilation by a Mongol army.  True, a man from there would have had a long way to go to reach Bumtang in Bhutan in its southeastern quadrant.  I wish I could tell you more about him as well as the 3rd person, Nyi-khri-’bar, beyond just saying how his name more likely means ‘Blazing Light of the 2[5],000 [Verse Perfection of Wisdom].’

Since the first and 3rd are so mysterious, it is the 2nd one that warrants our attention all the more. Gnyan-ston Shes-rab-rdo-rje is a wellknown figure to people who have spent their lives together with Bon scriptures, but I dare to say no one else. There are various formations of his name that include Gnyan-’theng, Gnyan-mthing, and Gnyan-ston Shes-rab-seng-ge. Bonpos attribute to him the set of Twenty-One Minor Sûtras along with one or two of the Khams-brgyad scriptures of Bon. For a good source on his life, in English, see S.G. Karmay’s Treasury of Good Sayings, pp. 153-4. This tells us his Shel-brag-ma treasure* cache was opened in 1067 CE. A shepherd with a broken foot in search of a lost lamb, he happened to see a light shining through a crack that led him into the cave where the treasures were found. This does make him sound like a naive person who simply stumbled over texts, not a student of a Tangut teacher, but it’s likely we have this all wrong and he wasn’t just a simple shepherd after all. I would love to learn about a longer (and older) source on his life. It is said his teaching didn’t immediately spread, this happened only two generations later.

(*The name of the cache comes from Shel-brag, a place in the higher parts of Nyang Valley in Gtsang Province. Perhaps the best biographical source I know of is a 2-page sketch in the modern Bon history by Dpal-tshul, since Karmay's English is available and enough for present purposes. Both sources are recent, but nobody has thought of searching out earlier ones so we will have to wait on it.)

Meanwhile, with a sense of duty and the feeling it may lead us somewhere, let’s go through the remainder of the colophon with its lengthy discussions of the variant lineages full of interesting names that may be found of significance for us.

yang khungs cig la / shi ri sing ngas / be ro tsa na la / des khri srong lde brtsan la / btsad pos yar lung bang s[o]'i khrod du gter du sbas pa / sngegs shes rab dpal [?] (scan p.  no. 14) gyis rnyed / des gnyan shes rab rdo rje la bshad / des khong rang gi sras bla ma nyi khri 'bar la bshad / des bla ma rje la bshad / des shes rab go cha la bshad/ des 'byung gnas glog ros la bshad / des bla ma skyid rtsil [??] gyi li ston la bshad / des stag shar bsgom chen la bshad / des shwa ra'i mkhan po la bshad / dam pa'i mkhan pos dngos la gnang ba'o //

This paragraph supplies an alternative source for the lineage that surprisingly has the Tibetan Emperor Trisongdetsen concealing the text at the site of the royal tombs in Yarlung Valley, and identifies the one who received them as Sngegs Shes-rab-dpal. So we have an alternative Terton, an alternative Treasure site, as well as an alternative concealer here. Sngegs taught it to Gnyan Shes-rab-rdo-rje who then passed it on to his son Nyi-khri-’bar (here matching what we already heard).  Then there are six more lineage holders named ending with the seventh, dngos meaning ‘myself,’ a disciple of the Abbot of Shwa-ra.  None of these last listed names ring any bells with me, so I won't belabour the questions.  I do imagine that one of the names 'Byung-gnas-glog-ros, is odd enough it may have to do with another oddly named figure, likely an Uighur Turk, named Glog-gi-’byung-gnas (see the Deyu translation, note 3073 on p. 784), but the dates don’t come to our aid.

Here again, our Bonpo Terton received the same teachings from a different treasure revealer. We ought to see if we can find out who this Sngegs Shes-rab-dpal might be. To my regret, I can come up with nothing definite about him. Sngegs is a family name often mentioned in Old Tibetan sources with the spelling Rngegs. Matho fragment v105 mentions another member of the Sngegs clan.

Now we move on to the final paragraph of the colophon, in which the colophon writer identifies himself, even tells us the name of his own disciple. However, it has nothing to add about the Terton so perhaps it isn’t all that significant for us.  It does tell us a later segment of the lineage, and one that can’t simply be slotted into the ones already supplied:

yang bla ma 'gos ston gyis slob dpon khyung ston la bshad / slob dpon khyung ston gyis / bla ma skar ma la yang gsan / slob dpon khyung ston kyis / slob dpon zhang btsun la gnang / slob dpon zhang btsun gyis dngos dge' slong pad ma bzang po la gnang / bdag gis chos nyid rdo rje la rgyud... (final words perhaps missing).

Now we can know the penultimate recipient of the lineages, and the author of the lineage accounts, is a person named Padma-bzang-po. Not at all a common name form, yet he cannot be identical to the Great Abbot Padma-bzang-po mentioned in Blue Annals, p. 412, he and all the persons with this moniker findable in BDRC are much too late to consider. Nobody else is immediately identifiable, although I suppose the Khyung-ston listed here would be the one BDRC (Person RID P3836) lists as Lho-pa Khyung-ston Grags, 11th century. He is actually credited with finding Atiyoga Terma texts himself, the most famous one being found in the Vairocana collection (at vol. 4, pp. 159-190), where he is called Khyung-grags from Lho-brag.*

(*Not to get too involved at the moment, I am still eager to say that this most famous Terma of Khyung-grags is none other than the Golden Tortoise (Gser-gyi Rus-sbal) closely studied in both Bon and Chos versions by Samten G. Karmay in his most-cited book. If you are interested, I highly recommend that you read what Karmay has to say about the Termas of the one he calls Ye-shes-khyung-grags.)

So, let’s try and make plain the situation we have here. The very same source written by Padma-bzang-po supplies us with two different scenarios for the concealment and excavation of the Treasure text. Neither has Gnyan-ston, known to us as a Bon Terton, doing the actual excavation work. No, he received the Terma from someone else, either Mye-nag Kha-so-ba or Sngegs Shes-rab-dpal. The concealers are different, too, either G.yu-sgra or the Emperor Trisongdetsen.  

In the sketch of Gnyan-ston’s life told by Dpal-tshul in his recently written monumental Bon history, the concealer is Lde-bon Gyim-tsha. It is Gnyan-ston himself who acts as the Terton excavator; the cave was packed full of texts, but the copyist was unwilling, so all trace of the treasure door was erased and most of the books were never released to the world. Some were transformed into Chos texts by the scribe already, and for this bad deed he died of leprosy and the propagation of the Treasure teachings was temporarily incapacitated. Although Dpal-tshul says there had been minor transmissions in Tibet from east to west, it was only in the time of Bru-rje (i.e., in the mid-13th century) that the lineage he knows about got its start. He does name the immediate disciple of Gnyan-ston as Ra-ston G.yung-drung-’od-zer, and not the Nyi-khri-’bar we met with before.

So it may be that the text before us was in fact passed on by an entirely Nyingma Terton and then transmitted in a Nyingma lineage, and all it has to do with Bon is that a person otherwise remembered as a Bon Terton was second in line, receiving it directly from its Terton. Then, in an unrelated (?) event, that same Bon Terton’s texts, texts that were thoroughly Bon when he found them, were in some part repackaged as Chos.

But there is one further question that can be no longer avoided, What about the text our fragment apparently belongs to? A quick look at it told us it was very strongly philosophical in nature, so I emailed G.H. and asked him if any such text was associated with the name of Śrīsiṃha. He immediately pointed me toward a text entitled Resolving What it Means to Open the Doorbolt of the Heart, or more shortly, Heart’s Doorbolt, the metaphorical “doorbolt” in this case is one locking an equally metaphorical (?) treasury (gter).  Its ten chapters can be quite philosophical in tone it is true, but it acts primarily as a guide to the Nine Vehicles idea using characteristically Nyingma terminology. Not perceiving this in the Matho fragment, I redoubled my efforts to locate one of its parallels elsewhere by spelling things a little differently and so on in BDRC search mode until at last I landed on a phrase match that surprised me a lot, so much it led me on a veritable wild goose chase that in the end left nothing on the dinner table.

Therein lies yet another puzzle, if this text, meant to be a well rounded survey of philosophico-doctrinal systems, was initially taught by Śrīsiṃha to Vairocana then we would inevitably expect it to be about Mind Class Dzogchen, or at least include a survey of the Nine Vehicles that would culminate in Atiyoga, very much like the Doorbolt does. But nothing like that is evident in it. Once again we are on the receiving end of a curve ball and we’re left standing in the batter’s box wondering what just happened. But hey, the game isn’t over yet.

A significant piece of certainty collapsed when I realized that these “two folios” (four scan pages) of ours are actually an example of “one folio folded at the middle” I mentioned before.  It fell out of the booklet it once belonged to, then got mistakenly inserted into another booklet. That means we have to rethink the relation between scan nos. 11-12 and 13-14. I had previously imagined I could read the text continuously without break in a way that seemed intelligible, but now I see that it just doesn’t work. The booklet the double folio fell out of could have contained a variety of texts with different titles and colophons. To follow my new certainty, 11-12 and 13-14 don’t need to belong to the same text, could well belong to two different ones. So the philosophical text’s only connection to the colophon is that they both once formed part of the same booklet (sharing the same scribe); [1] the logico-philosophical discussion and [2] the “precepts” (gdams-ngag, here likely meaning meditative guidance for Dzogchen practice) are separate matters pertaining to separate texts. The colophon we spent so much time investigating belongs to a text that isn’t visible to us. That could make it impossible to identify.

  • If there is a significant historical point we can take away from this, it’s that Nyingma and Bon Tertons were often crossing paths, cooperating with each other, exchanging teachings and texts, and even — in cases that require more study — apparently working for both teams. This most of us who have spent time in the field already know, but the content of this colophon, our earliest datable manuscript evidence of Nyingma Terton activity, helps us make the following statement more confidently. We cannot study the history of Nyingma Terma practices without also studying the Bon side of things.

I won’t suggest that this Matho text is just a small contribution to early Terma manuscript study. In some very real sense it might be taken as a beginning point. Beginnings often take place within realms of confusion, and our human mind is never satisfied to remain in such indeterminate states for long. Errors, even errors within errors, are the true concealers and it is through them, and our seeing through them, that we must of necessity find our way to approach truth’s treasury. Meanwhile, if we take a wrong turn, we have to go back and start on a different foot and turn in a different direction. I confess that I haven’t been able to divine a clear path towards resolving all of our problems, but I do have hope, and all my hope is in you.

°   °   °

Web resources

Kashgar Tiger” posted at Tibetologic blog on October 30, 2012)=.

Locating a Tertön Prayer in Terma History” posted at Tibeto-logic blog on September 29, 2019.

Matho Fragments Handlist.  Go here if you are curious about other fragments found in the Matho manuscript cache:

Tertön Prayer of 16th Centuryön-prayer-of-16th-century

Tibetan Proper Name Index, or TPNI:

Print literature

Jean-Luc Achard, “Le Tantra des Vingt-Deux Perles de l'Esprit de Parfaite Pureté : un exemple d'intertextualité entre les traditions Bon po et rNying ma pa,” contained in: Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie, vol. 15 (2005), pp. 59-106. This concerns a particular Nyingma tantra with clear Bon parallels, Byang-chub-sems Thig-pa Nyi-shu-rtsa-gnyis-pa'i Rgyud, the first text in a section in the 4th volume of the Vairocana collection (running from pp. 244 through 279), that includes most of the Dzogchen texts mentioned in this blog. It proves the Bon version of that just-mentioned work was the basis for the Nyingma. Perhaps I don’t need to say it, but I believe all of the small texts in that small section of the Vairocana collection will prove relevant for Dzogchen Terma studies.

Anne-Marie Blondeau, “Le ‘découvreur’ du Maṇi bka'-'bum était-il Bon-po?” contained in: Louis Ligeti, ed., Tibetan and Buddhist Studies Commemorating the 200th Anniversary of the Birth of Alexander Csoma de Kőrös, Munshiram Manoharlal (Delhi 2000, reprint of the 1984), vol. 1, pp. 77-123. Particularly relevant are the pages on the Golden Tortoise and Ye-shes-khyung-grags on pp. 111-114, but there is much to learn here about how Tertons and Termas were in various manners shared between Bon and Chos.

Dpal-tshul (=Dpal-ldan-tshul-khrims), G.yung-drung Bon-gyi Bstan-'byung, Tibetan Bonpo Monastic Centre (Dolanji 1972), vol. 2, pp. 199-201. This has the biographical sketch of Gnyan-ston, the Bonpo Terton we find in the Matho fragment as the recipient the Nyingma Terma lineage.

Samten G. Karmay, The Great Perfection: A Philosophical and Meditative Teaching of Tibetan Buddhism, E.J. Brill (Leiden 1988); and also the 2nd edition, E.J. Brill (Leiden 2007), pp. 220-223. Just read these pages concerning the Terma of Ye-shes-khyung-grags and tell me if you don’t think things are getting a lot more interesting in terms of Bon and Chos Terma interrelations of the pre-Mongol era.

Dan Martin, tr., A History of Buddhism in India and Tibet: An Expanded Version of the Dharma’s Origins Made by the Learned Scholar Deyu, The Library of Tibetan Classics series no. 32, Wisdom Publications (Somerville 2022), in 952 pages.  The actual author of this 1261 history is unidentified, although the text is conventionally attributed to the Scholar Deyu (Mkhas-pa Lde’u), in actuality one of several names of the author of the verse "root text" only, not the work as a whole. To make our lives easier, I call this the Long Deyu, as there are two shorter and earlier ones.

Robert Mayer, “Did Vairocana Have Lice?” Blog posted at Kila Kilaya dated July 11, 2012.

——, “Indian nidhi, Tibetan gter ma, Guru Chos dbang, and a Kriyātantra on Treasure Doors: Rethinking Treasure (Part Two),” Revue d'Etudes Tibétaines [free on the web], vol. 64 (July 2022), pp. 368-446. Much recommended as the latest word on Terma. Whole books are expected to reveal themselves before long.

——, “Rethinking Treasure (Part One),” Revue d’Etudes Tibétaines, vol. 52 (October 2019), pp. 119-184.

Per Sørensen, Tibetan Buddhist Historiography: The Mirror Illuminating the Royal Genealogies: An Annotated Translation of the XIVth Century Tibetan Chronicle: rGyal-rabs gsal-ba’i me-long, Harrassowitz Verlag (Wiesbaden 1994).

Vairocana, Man-ngag Rig-pa Klong-rdzogs-kyis Rgyud, contained in: The Rgyud-’bum of Vairocana: A Collection of Ancient Tantras and Esoteric Instructions Compiled and Translated by the Eighth Century Tibetan Master, "reproduced from the rare manuscript belonging to the Venerable Tokden Rimpoche of Gangon,” Tashi Y. Tashigangpa (Leh 1971), vol. 4, pp. 274-279. I list this here just because it is a visionary text associated with Vairocana where we find, near the end, cig la mi snub gnyis la mi spel te, words that closely echo our Matho fragment, gnyis la myi spel / cig las rgyun myi gcad do.  I located it by searching THlib, and you can even see the scanned pages if you go here: Searching the much larger database of BDRC turns up nothing of significance, odd but true.

Jim Valby, “rDzogs chen Ati Yoga Teachings of Master Śrī Siṃha,” contained in: Donatella Rossi and Charles Jamyang Oliphant of Rossie, eds., Sharro: Festschrift for Chögyal Namkhai Norbu, Garuda Books (Switzerland 2016), pp. 311-318. Includes an annotated translation of a Dzogchen composition entitled 'Khor-ba Rtsad-nas Gcod-pa Bdud-rtsi Dri-med-kyi Man-ngag.  See the Coda, but no, this brief four-part work is not the same text mentioned there, although its title is similar.  I recently received from Ratna a link to an archived page where you can get an idea of the enormous amount of work Jim Valby has done on the Dzogchen tantras.

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There is yet another Dzogchen tantra represented in the Matho, apart from the All Making King, subject of our previous blog. The Matho scan set called "v146" is one single folio, but it does contain a Chapter Five chapter colophon that includes within it the title of the main text:  Rdzogs-pa-chen-po [']Khor-ba Rtsa-nas Gcod-pa[?] 'i Rgyud.  Read it as 'Khor-ba Rtsad-nas Gcod-pa, and you have the name, or part of the name, of a number of Dzogchen tantras available to us today in various sets of Nyingma tantras.* 

(*As I discovered from looking at this rKTs page, Matho fragment v41 seems to be from one of those similar titles: Rdzogs-pa-chen-po 'Khor-ba Rtsad-nas Gcod-pa Chos-sku Skye-med Rig-pa'i Rgyud, but to judge from a published version, this tantra ought to have 23 or 24 chapters.)

Oh my, searching within, the site from Virginia, you can find the very same Chapter Five colophon, and the surrounding text looks quite, if not quite exactly, the same. It isn’t a very long text, and if you want to be more sure it’s the same one we're talking about — I mean without being confused by all the similar titles — it has seven chapters altogether.

There are even more Nyingma Dzogchen fragments, not a great quantity, but they can be found:  no. v189 has on its scan page no. 3 a title in a chapter colophon that reveals the title of the entire tantra: Rdzogs-pa-chen-po Lta-ba’i Yang-snying Nam-ka Klong-yangs-kyi Rgyud. That ought to be the first text in vol. 8 of the Vairocana collection.  No. v303 is a praise to a Dzogchen master with a lot of names in it, maybe we should blog about that sometime.

In general, if we expand our search, not just for Dzogchen, but for Nyingma texts in general, they are quite well represented here, particularly if we were to take all the Phurpa texts to be Nyingma, a move that may not be entirely justifiable. I’d like to say that the Nyingma may be the most well represented sectarian grouping in Matho, while coming in 2nd would be the Zhijé, the Kagyu in 3rd place. A couple of Kadampa-associated texts (v254 in particular, but v89 and v349, too) make me wonder whether it might be in 3rd or rather 4th place? I suppose 4th. Now I’m thinking I’ll go look at the Zhijé texts. If you knew me you would know that to me they are the most fascinating of all.

—   —   —


I asked our good friend Jean-Luc what he thought, and he kindly sent me an amazingly helpful criticism in return.  I think I am ready to accept every point he makes, so I will just let him speak for himself by quoting from his email of December 13, 2023:

Regarding the passage you quote on the blog, I don’t know why but I keep reading “ ’di ni chos kyi (sku) gnya’ gnon yin te/” with gnya’ gnon meaning valaya = circular collar (The Outer Wheel of Time, p. 547). In this case, I would see it as implying something like a very valuable ornament, the teachings transmitted by Sri Singha being like an ornament of the dharmakaya. Or maybe, it’s just the fever…😊

gnyis la myi spel sounds like an imperative tense, sounding like: “Do not spread it to two (disciples at a time)!”

cig las rgyun mi gcad do: “its flow should not be broken to more than one” ==> “Do not spread its flow (of transmission) to more than one (disciple)!”

I guess this is the same meaning as yours. This is the idea of a single transmission (gcig brgyud).

As to the Bum-thang rTsi-lung, it is in the Chos ’byung me tog snying po (p. 353) and styled as a place where the Sems-phyogs texts were hidden: “bum thang rtsi lungs su sems phyogs thams cad sbas/”. And as you know, it’s in the lDe’u chos ’byung, described as a temple built to subjugate the Monpas…

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