The Palyul Lineage

Palyul Monastery

Palyul Monastery

In Tibet, there were six mother monasteries which upheld the Nyingma tradition. The foremost of these was the glorious Palyul which was established in 1665 and located in eastern Tibet on land that was blessed by many great saints and bodhisattvas.   It was during the time of the great Vidyadhara Kuzang Sherab that the Palyul Lineage was formed and the monastery known as Palyul Namgyal Changchub Choling became one of the major Nyingma monastic institutions. Like other schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the Palyul Lineage is presently sustained by teachers and centres around the world.  The recognized head of the Palyul is currently His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, who succeeded his teacher, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche.

As with all Nyingma Dharma lineages, the Palyul holds the complete canon of the Mahayana sutras and tantras as well as the Kama (long), Terma (short) and Pure Vision transmissions. However, the Palyul lineage is distinct in that it continues to practice, realize and transmit all the various lineages and transmissions that were held and passed on by Kunzang Sherab into one vast Dharma Ocean.

Namcho Refuge Visualization

Namcho Refuge Visualization

The Kama or long lineage is the combined oral tradition of Panchen Vimalamitra, the translator Vairocana and master Padmasambhava on the inner yogas of Generation Stage Maha Yoga, Transmission stage Anu Yoga and the Great Perfection stage Ati Yoga. The Palyul also holds the Non-dual Great Seal Mahamudra – Great Perfection Ati Yoga, uniting the highest Nyingma teachings of Dzog Chen with the ornament of the Kagyu school, the Mahamudra of Marpa the translator, forefather of the Kagyu. From Kunzang Sherab to the present throne holder, His Holiness Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, as well as the greater Palyul sangha, this has been maintained as a principal practice which includes: clear light togyal, inner togyal, darkness practice, dream practice, training in the nature of sound and pure realms practice. The terma or short lineage refers to spiritual treasures (terma) that were concealed by Padmasambava and his close disciples to be revealed at a later, more appropriate time. These termas were hidden in both physical elements and within beings mind streams, to be remembered and revealed in later incarnations. As such, the lineage for these termas is considered “short” historically, as opposed to the long lineages originating with Sakyamuni Buddha. The principal terma lineages of the Palyul are those of Terton Nyang, Guru Chowang, Ratna Lingpa, Jigme Lingpa, Karma Lingpa and Mingyur Dorje.  The Profound lineage of Pure Vision originates with Terton Mingyur Dorje’s Nam Cho Great Perfection revelations, transmitted directly to Kunzang Sherab.

For further reading please see: Zangpo, Ven. Tsering and Khandro, Sangye, A Garland of Immortal Wish Fulfilling Trees: The Palyul Tradition of Nyingmapa, Ithaca, N.Y., Snow Lion Publications, 1988.

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