Rangjung Dorje (1284–1339)

Rangjung Dorje (Tibetan: རང་འབྱུང་རྡོ་རྗེ་, Wylie: rang 'byung rdo rje) (1284–1339) was the third Karmapa (head of the Karma Kagyu, the largest sub-school of the Kagyu tradition) and an important figure in the history of Tibetan Buddhism, who helped to spread Buddha-nature teachings in Tibet.

Biography

Rangjung Dorjé was officially recognized as the first tulku, the reincarnation of Karma Pakshi, in 1282. The 3rd Karmapa was raised at the Tsurphu Monastery, where he received teachings from both the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions from eminent masters such as Trophu Künden Sherab and Nyenre Gendün Bum. He became renowned as one of the greatest masters of his time and had a large number of disciples. He undertook a spiritual retreat on the slopes of Everest, received full ordination, and completed his studies at a significant Kadampa teaching center.

Rangjung Dorje visited China, where the emperor Toghon Temur became his disciple. Upon his death, Rangjung Dorje's face is said to have appeared in the moon there. As a group, the Karmapa Lamas were among the earliest recognized Tulku, or lamas reincarnated as deities or lineage of deceased teachers. The first Karmapas were influential in the Yuan and Ming courts as well as the Tangut Western Xia Kingdom.[note 1]

Through visions, he is believed to have received teachings on the "wheel of time" (Kalachakra), and he introduced a reformed system of Tibetan astronomy known as the "Tsurphu system" (Tibetan: Tsur-tsi), which is still used by the Karma Kagyu school for the Tibetan calendar. He was also known as a pratitioner of Traditional Tibetan medicine.

Lineage

Born to a Nyingma family, Rangjung Dorje was a lineage-holder in both the Karma Kagyu and the Nyingma tradition of Dzogchen.

He was a disciple of the Nyingma master Rigdzin Kumaradza Shönnu Gyelpo (Tibetan: rig 'dzin ku ma ra dza gzhon nu rgyal po; 1266–1343) who passed on to him the "heart-essence" (nying-thig) teachings transmitted by Padmasambhava[note 2] and Vimalamitra (the Khandro Nyingtik and Vima Nyingtik respectively).[3]

He also encountered the Nyingma master Longchenpa, who transmitted to him certain Dzogchen teachings. In exchange, Rangjung Dorje imparted important "New Translation" Tantras to Longchenpa. Rangjung Dorje was also a "Treasure revealer" of termas. The Karma Kagyu Dzogchen transmission that arose from his lineage is known as the "Karma-Nyingthig" (Tibetan: kar ma snying thig; Essence of the Heart of the Karma School).

Teachings and influence

Buddha-nature and shentong

In 1321 the famous scholar Dolpopa (1292-1361) visited Tsurphu Monastery for the first time and had extensive discussions with Rangjung Dorje about doctrinal issues. It appears that Rangjung Dorje almost certainly influenced the development of some of Dolpopa's theories, possibly including his Zhentong (gzhan stong) method.[4]

According to Karma phrin las, Dri lan yid, 91-92, his teacher, Chödrak Gyatso, the Seventh Karmapa, interpreted the nature of Zhentong (gzhan stong) accepted by Rangjung Dorje.[5]

Chod

Schaeffer (1995: p.15) conveys that the Third Karmapa was a systematizer of the Chöd developed by Machig Labdrön and lists a number of his works on Chod consisting of redactions, outlines and commentaries.[note 3]

Dzogchen

Yungtön Dorjepel (1284-1365), (the previous incarnation of the First Panchen Lama, Khedrup Je), studied the Great Perfection due to the great inspiration of Rangjung Dorje.[7]

Writings

Rangjung Dorje was a noted scholar who composed many significant texts, the most famous of which is the Profound Inner Meaning (Wylie: zab mo nang don[8]), which concern the Vajrayana inner yoga practices. Other important texts of his include:

Notes

  1. ^ Tom Suchan: "The first several Karmapas are distinguished by their important status at the Yuan and Ming courts of China where they served as the spiritual guides to princes and emperors. Their influence also extended to the court of the Tangut Xia Kingdom where a disciple of Dusum Khyenpa was given the title "Supreme Teacher" by a Tangut Xixia King..."[1][2]
  2. ^ The Khandro Nyingtik
  3. ^ Schaeffer: "Rang byung was renowned as a systematizer of the Gcod teachings developed by Ma gcig lab sgron. His texts on Gcod include the Gcod kyi khrid yig; the Gcod bka' tshoms chen mo'i sa bcad which consists of a topical outline of and commentary on Ma gcig lab sgron's Shes rab kyi pha rol tu phyin pa zab mo gcod kyi man ngag gi gzhung bka' tshoms chen mo ; the Tshogs las yon tan kun 'byung ; the lengthy Gcod kyi tshogs las rin po che'i phrenb ba 'don bsgrigs bltas chog tu bdod pa gcod kyi lugs sor bzhag; the Ma lab sgron la gsol ba 'deb pa'i mgur ma; the Zab mo bdud kyi gcod yil kyi khrid yig, and finally the Gcod kyi nyams len.[6]

References

  1. ^ Rhie, Marylin & Thurman, Robert (1991). Wisdom and Compassion. New York: Harry N. Abrams. p.236.
  2. ^ Suchan, Tom (1998). The Third Karmapa Lama, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1338). Source: [1] Archived 2008-04-15 at the Wayback Machine (accessed: January 29, 2008)
  3. ^ Suchan">Suchan, Tom (1998). The Third Karmapa Lama, Rangjung Dorje (1284-1338). Source: [2]
  4. ^ Stearns, Cyrus (1999). The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, pp. 17, 47-48, 51-52, 61. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-4191-1 (hc); ISBN 0-7914-4192-X (pbk).
  5. ^ Stearns, Cyrus (1999). The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen, p. 207, n. 72. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-4191-1 (hc); ISBN 0-7914-4192-X (pbk).
  6. ^ Schaeffer, Kurtis R. (1995). The Englightened Heart of Buddhahood: A Study and Translation of the Third Karma pa Rang byung rdo rje's Work on Tathagatagarbha. (Wylie: de bzhin pa'i snying po gtan la dbab pa). University of Washington. p.15.
  7. ^ Dorje, Gyurme and Kapstein, Matthew. (1991) The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism: Its Fundamentals and History, p. 666. Wisdom Publications, Boston. ISBN 0-86171-087-8
  8. ^ Dharma Dictionary (2008). zab mo nang don. Source: [3] (accessed: January 29, 2008)
  9. ^ Prayer for the Definitive Meaning, The Mahamudra, Translated by Peter Alan Roberts; in Mahamudra and Related Instructions: Core Teachings of the Kagyu Schools, pp.169-174
  10. ^ Prayer To The Lineage of Chö[permanent dead link] by Rangjung Dorje, Karmapa III
  11. ^ Rangjung Dorje (root text); Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche (commentary); Peter Roberts (translator) (2001). Transcending Ego - Distinguishing Consciousness from Wisdom (Wylie: rnam shes ye shes ‘byed pa). Source: [4] (accessed: Wednesday April 1, 2009)
  12. ^ Instructions for Mahamudra Innate Union, Translated by Peter Alan Roberts; in Mahamudra and Related Instructions: Core Teachings of the Kagyu Schools, pp.153-168
  13. ^ Schaeffer, Kurtis R. (1995). The Englightened Heart of Buddhahood: A Study and Translation of the Third Karma pa Rang byung rdo rje's Work on Tathagatagarbha. (Wylie: de bzhin pa'i snying po gtan la dbab pa). University of Washington. p.1.

Sources

  • Lama Kunsang, Lama Pemo, Marie Aubèle (2012). History of the Karmapas: The Odyssey of the Tibetan Masters with the Black Crown. Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, New York. ISBN 1-55939-390-4.
  • Thinley, Karma (2008). The History of Sixteen Karmapas of Tibet. USA: Prajna Press. p. 150. ISBN 1-57062-644-8.

Further reading

Biography
Texts