The gos dKar lCang lo’i sDe - History of the Ngakma and Ngakpa tradition - part 4

Welcome to a series of short interviews about the non-celibate or ngak’phang tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism with Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen. They are the current holders of the Aro gTér, a non-monastic family lineage originating in Tibet in the late 1800s with the great female gTérton Khyungchen Aro Lingma. Although born in the west, Ngak’chang Rinpoche travelled to the Himalayas in 1971 aged 19 where he met with Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche, Jig’drèl Yeshé Dorje, the head of the Nyingma tradition. Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche, Jig’drèl Yeshé Dorje confirmed the childhood visions of Ngak’chang Rinpoche and recognised him as an incarnation of Aro Yeshé – the son and heir of Khyungchen Aro Lingma. On that first visit Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche, Jig’drèl Yeshé Dorje ordained Ngak’chang Rinpoche as a Ngakpa and charged him with the responsibility of establishing the gö-kar-chang-lo’i dé – the community of ngak’phang practitioners in the West. Ngak’chang Rinpoche and his wife and co-teacher Khandro Dechen have dedicated over 40 years to doing so and during that time have met with numerous Ngakpa lamas. Their main teachers were all themselves ngakpas and major lineage-holders of the Nyingma tradition – Kyabjé Düd’jom Rinpoche, Jig’drèl Yeshé Dorje, Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpoche, Khordong gTérchen Tulku Chhi’mèd Rig’dzin Rinpoche and Kyabjé Künzang Dorje Rinpoche. During that time as well as practising in this Ngak’phang tradition, Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen have studied the history of the gö-kar-chang-lo’i dé right back beyond the first spread of Buddhism in Tibet to the time of the Mahasiddhas in India, - and spoken with many lamas on the subject, including Chag’düd Trülku Rinpoche, Phur-tak Rinpoche, Kyabjé Minling Trichen Rinpoche, and their great friend Lama Tharchin Rinpoche who was the lineage holder of the Repkong Ngakpa lineage. When Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen met with Kyabjé Dung-sé Thrin-lé Norbu Rinpoche he was very supportive of their work in establishing the tradition of ngakpas and ngakmas in the west, and gave them a long-life wish-path for Kyabjé Künzang Dorje Rinpoche and Jomo Sam’phel Déchen Rinpoche in which he elucidates the history and practice of the ngak’phang lineage. In this fourth interview Ngak’chang Rinpoche and Khandro Déchen explore the differences between the ordination robes of the monastic and ngak'phang sanghas, discuss the importances of lineage in vajrayana, address accusations of Ngakpas being 'showy' in their dress,and explain the phenomenon of persecution through praise.

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