Some 2500 years ago, Lord Buddha appeared in this world and taught three levels of teachings renowned as Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Vajrayana, which includes profound skillful means for the swift attainment of enlightenment, was imparted exclusively to a select group of worthy recipients while the other teachings were propagated far and wide.
On the verge of passing into parinirvana, the Buddha foretold the coming of Padmasambhava, a great spiritual master who would serve as the chief propagator of the Vajrayana teachings. Padmasambhava, or Guru Rinpoche, was an emanation of the Buddha, himself, and was miraculously born within a lotus in the country of Uddiyana. In accordance with the Buddha’s prophesy, Padmasambhava spread the Vajrayana teachings and tantric rituals throughout India, Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and many other countries. By means of a special short lineage of concealed Dharma treasures, or termas, as well as through an unbroken lineage of transmission from master to disciple, Guru Rinpoche’s legacy and instructions on the innermost essence of Buddhism remain alive today.
A tertön, or treasure-revealer, is a reincarnation of one of Guru Rinpoche’s close disciples and therefore is an emissary of Padmasambhava, himself. Terma teachings were hidden by Padmasambhava in the earth, in caves, in the sky and in the minds of his original close disciples. Guru Rinpoche then sealed these individual treasures with a sacred prayer that they should be revealed by a tertön, at specific times in the future, for the benefit of ensuing generations.
Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa the First, who appeared in this world in 1829, was just such an incarnated tertön. Born in Nangchen, Eastern Tibet, he was the 13th reincarnation of Trisong Deutsen’s son, Lhasey Lotsawa, who incarnated 13 consecutive times as a terton. Centuries earlier, Padmasambhava had prophesied Chokgyur Lingpa’s name, birthplace, the chief recipients of his revealed teachings and the great effect his propagated teachings would have on the world.
Chokgyur Lingpa the First was a very close friend of Jamyang Khyentse the Great. At the age of 27, he presented a sater of the Tukdrub Barchey Kunsel to Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo who announced that he had, himself, received almost an identical text in the form of a gongter (mind treasure). The two termas were combined into the Tukdrub Barchey Kunsel and the terma is, hence, common to both Lamas.
Subsequently, Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa discovered the many termas that are gathered into the cycle known as the Chokling Tersar — a compilation of more than 40 volumes of empowerments, textual authorizations, and oral instructions formerly concealed by Padmasambhava. These terma treasures have had an immense impact on Vajrayana Buddhism in the 150 years that followed and are, to this day, widely practiced throughout the world. This is mainly because both the 14th Karmapa and 15th Karmapa were among his chief disciples. Moreover, these noble recipients were renowned masters who widely propagated the teachings that Terchen Chokgyur Lingpa revealed.
Born in 1953, Lungtok Gyatso, the second eldest son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, was recognized at Tsurphu Monastery by His Holiness, the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa as the 4th reincarnation of Terchen Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa and given the name Gyurmey Dewey Dorje — formally known both as the Kela Chokling and as Tsikey Chokling. In 1959, Chokling Rinpoche and his older brother Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche enrolled at the Young Lamas’ School in Dalhousie, India. At the age of 11, Tsikey Chokling and his older brother, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, returned to Sikkim and entered Rumtek Monastery, seat of the 16th Karmapa, where, side by side, they embarked on their advanced monastic education.
While at Rumtek, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche completed an arduous course of studies under the guidance of numerous outstanding Buddhist masters headed by His Holiness, himself. Under Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche he studied Buddhist philosophy, under Venerable Tenga Rinpoche he mastered the detailed training in Vajrayana rituals and with the guidance of H.E. Kalu Rinpoche he perfected the Six Doctrines of Naropa. In addition, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche received the essential transmission of the entire Nyingma lineage from Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and from Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche. From his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche received on several occasions the transmission for the lineage of the Chokling Tersar, or New Treasures, revealed by his own predecessor, Chokgyur Lingpa the First.
In 1974, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche and Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche left Rumtek and journeyed overland to Kathmandu where they joined their parents. As a family, they followed the command of the 16th Karmapa and overcame hardship to build one of Nepal’s largest monasteries, Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling, which was subsequently inaugurated by His Majesty King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah and consecrated by the 16th Karmapa in 1976. Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche resided in the monastery where he held the position of Vajra Master, presiding over the intricate and powerful Vajrayana rituals performed for the benefit of the monastic community as well as for the lay congregation.
Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche was a tertön and lay practitioner with a wife and four children. His elder son, Phakchock Rinpoche, was recognized by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama as an important Taklung Kagyu incarnation while his younger son was recognized and subsequently enthroned by Trulshik Rinpoche as the reincarnation of Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche entered parinirvana at 10:12 a.m. on December 18th, 2020 at the age of 68 in Singapore in the presence of family members. Rinpoche entered the state of thukdam – an advanced meditative state practiced by Buddhist masters during the intermediate post-death period. Rinpoche’s kudung returned to Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery in January, 2021 and will be cremated on February 24th, 2023.
The monks will mark the parinirvana anniversary of Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche by performing the Ocean of Amṛta (Ngakso) Pūjā at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery.
We prostrate and make offerings in endless gratitude to Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche and make aspirations for the tradition of Chokgyur Dechen Shikpo Lingpa to remain steadfast and unbroken for the benefit of all sentient beings.