What Is The Machik Dakinii Ear-Whispered Lineage?
Khalkha Jetsun Dampa Rinpoche:
Commentary on the lineages and their history
Rare, Secret, and the Unknown Chö Tantric Tradition
“The Machik Ḍākinī Ear-Whispered lineage” (Machik Khandro Nyengyü, Machik Khandro Nyengyü, Ma gcig mkha' 'gro snyan brgyud) is one of the two streams that make the river of Chö, which has been carried by Geluk masters for centuries. It has been carried as an oral and living tradition without necessarily being affiliated with any sect or institution. It is a rare, secret and unequaled Tibetan Vajrayana Chö tradition that has been kept very secret and unrecognized until recent years.
Highly Valued and Disseminated
The lineage was once highly valued as a “Tantra transmission” or “Vajrayana Chö” and spread from the borders of Eastern Tibet to Amdo and Inner Mongolia. The lineage is extremely discreet but not exclusive. It pervaded all the way to isolated regions yet did not settle in any institutional framework. The lineage practices are profound and powerful as well as beautiful, melodious and imbued with the dakinis’ blessings. However, the lineage was strictly orally transmitted and was on the verge of disappearing by the early 20th century.
Distinctive Lineage of Wandering Yogis and Yoginis
From the outset, the Machik Ḍākinī Ear-Whispered Lineage has been distinguished by the unique lifestyle of its practitioners: as a lineage of yogis and yoginis; wandering hermits (Ensapa); mountain solitary dwellers (ritöpa); ones who go to and dwell in frightful sites with fearless daring (nyentröpa); wanderers in the 108 springs (chumik-gyatsa- korwa); as well as chö practitioners in general (chöpa).
The emphasis of this lineage is placed on retreats through which one can develop flawless renunciation, bodhicitta, the wisdom of cutting through the demon of self-grasping, and the realization of emptiness--the ultimate meaning of Prajnaparamita. The strong emphasis on the integrated system of “view,” “meditation,” and “conduct” as the path of a chö practitioner is reflected by such unique retreats as the “the Seven-Evening Wilderness Retreat (Nyentrö Shakdün)” and “the 108-Spring Retreat (Chumik Gyatsa)”. All the practices and retreats of the lineage culminate with the profound retreat practice of Tröma Nakmo, which is the wrathful aspect of Machik Labdrön.
Complete, Integrated Tradition of the Chö Lineage
The Machik Dakini Ear-Whispered Lineage is a uniquely integrated tradition of Tibetan meditational, cultural and liturgical heritage. The Lineage consists of clearly defined sets of practices, retreats, empowerments (wang), and reading and musical transmissions (lung) as well as full commentaries (tri). The lineage presents a complete authentic system of Tantric practice to guide practitioners to the fruition of the path--full awakening. The major practice texts of the lineage are considered as “sādhana” (drubtab) proper, which are "Means of Achievement". They include the generation stage - "front-generation" and "self-generation" as well as completion stage practices.
The tradition encompasses both common and uncommon Chö empowerments (Chö-wang, gCod dbang). The common empowerment allows the individual to practice the Ensa/Ganden Ear-Whispered Lineage as the preliminary or foundation to the uncommon empowerment. The uncommon empowerment grants one permission to practice the Machik Ḍākinī Ear-Whispered Lineage. Both empowerments allow one to undertake the formal Chö retreats (Chökyi Nyenpa, gCod kyi bsnyen pa) to accomplish the Chö-related yidams. Each yidam practice has its own visualization with a prescribed number of mantra recitations to be followed by a fire puja and commitments after the retreat.
Recent Endeavors of Transmissions
An even greater challenge to preserving the lineage arose after the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, which resulted in the global Tibetan Diaspora. By the early 1990’s the 9th Khalkha Jetsün Dampa, Jampel Namdröl Chökyi Gyeltsen, (Khal kha rJe tsun Dam pa 'Jam dpal rnam grol chos kyi rgyal mtshan, 1924- 2012) had become the sole lineage holder. Khalkha Rinpoche was concerned that the lineage would completely disappear if it was kept as secret as it was in the past. He took the liberty to open up the tradition to the West, first in 1993 and then 1994-5. This would be the first time key Chö empowerments and transmissions of the Machik Ḍākinī Ear-Whispered Lineage were bestowed outside of Tibet.
After his first visit to the West twenty-five years ago, upon his request and encouragement, Chöying Khandro, his direct senior disciple, completed the translation of the entire set of 11 lineage texts and the recordings of all the lineage melodies. The Dakini’s Whisper Five-Leveled Chö Mastery Journey facilitates passing on all the transmissions, teachings, and practices of the lineage to individuals in the modern world.
Copyright 2016 Chöying Khandro
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