Introduction to the teachings of the lineage
In the 2500 years since Buddha Shakyamuni’s Parinirvana, the Buddhadharma has evolved through two main evolutionary lines. These are called Hinayana (represented by the Theravadin Lineages of Ceylon, Burma, Thailand and Vietnam), and Mahayana (represented by the diverse Bodhisattva lineages in China, Korea, Vietnam, Japan and Tibet). Mahayana emphasizes great (maha) compassionate activity (karuna) as well as insight wisdom (prajna).
The two principle schools of Mahayana (Great Path) Buddhism are Zen and Vajrayana. The former originated in India, developed in China, and spread to Korea and Japan. The latter originated in India and developed in Tibet. The geographical isolation, vastness and grandeur of the Tibetan landscape, and its historical inaccessibility for hundreds of years until the Communist Chinese invasion of 1950-59, ensured that the Vajrayana style of Buddhism achieved an extraordinary flowering of spiritual methodology and accomplishment.
Vajrayana Buddhism in Tibet can be subdivided into four schools, each with distinct characteristics. The original school is called Nyingma (Ancient One). Its teachings and practices were brought from India to Tibet in the 8th century, at the height of the Tibetan Imperial period, by the Great Adept Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) and together with other sages such as Vimalamitra and Shantirakshita.
There are three other extant Vajrayana Schools whose teachings were brought from India to Tibet during the later period (11th Century): Sakya, Kagyu and Gelug. Collectively they are called Sarma or New Translation schools. Tibetan Buddhism is thus Mahayana/Vajrayana in style. The teachings which are presented in this center are Nyingma, a Mahayana/Vajrayana School of Buddhism.
Prior to 1959, in Tibet the Nyingmapa lamas and practitioners acknowledged no single head of the school. It consisted, rather, of a number of great sages and saints who were the reincarnate dharma masters (Rinpoches) of several powerful lineages of meditation practice and realization. In 1959, following the Tibetan diaspora, the Dalai Lama appointed a single great Lama to head each of the four Tibetan Buddhist schools. Among the Nyingma, the choice fell upon the Great Terton (visionary master) Dudjom Rinpoche.
HH Dudjom Rinpoche’s (1903-1987) full name was Jigdral Yeshe Dorje, Fearless Adamantine Wisdom. He was a lama whose enlightenment was of a rare and most sublime quality. He was also the greatest scholar of the Nyingmapa, and saved, collated and republished all their historically transmitted kama texts. In Nepal, India, and Bhutan, he founded vigorous practice centers and monasteries. Above all, Dudjom Rinpoche preserved, protected and passed on the completely authentic meditative and yogic training system of the Mantrayana or Secret Vajrayana, which continues to have the same power, scope and results here and now as it had in Tibet.
Dudjom Rinpoche was a Terton, a discoverer of hidden treasures. His Terma (treasures) offer particularly powerful pathways to spiritual realization and personal liberation. He was the reincarnation of the Great Terton Dudjom Lingpa (1835-1903). Collectively their works are called the Dudjom Tersar, or New Treasures of Dudjom. Hence the dharma lineage presented here is termed the Dudjom Lineage of Nyingma Buddhism.
After the passing of H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche in 1987, the Nyingma School was next headed by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (d. 1991) and then by H.H. Penor Rinpoche. Dudjom Rinpoche’s personal lineage, the Dudjom Tersar, is now headed by his son and dharma heir H.H. Shenphen Dawa Rinpoche.
Shenphen Rinpoche was born in Tibet in 1950. He received a particularly full personal training from his father in all aspects of Mahayana, Vajryana and Nyingma Buddhism. He also received a conventional education in European schools in India and so he is completely fluent in English. Having traveled widely in Europe and North America, Rinpoche has helped many people find themselves, and thereby enter upon the true, developmental path of liberation. To those fortunate enough to study with him, Rinpoche is not only the possessor of a great and powerful Buddhist lineage, but a spiritual friend of unfailing truthfulness, personal integrity and humanity. Such, indeed are the qualities by which we can distinguish a true Vajra master.
Tersar Lineage Image Gallery
See a select collection of Dieties, Tormas and Tsagli from our lineage.