Latest News

His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Visits Taipei Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to Preside Over the 803rd Grand Memorial Puja for Lord Jigten Sumgon of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism

June 15th was Lord Jigten Sumgon’s 803rd parinirvana anniversary. And for this auspicious occasion, on June 14th, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche respectfully invited his root guru, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, to come to Taipei Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to preside over the 803rd Grand Memorial Puja for Lord Jigten Sumgon. This was also the first puja that all participants have been allowed to attend since the government announced large-scale lifts on coronavirus-related restrictions following the pandemic’s abatement.

Ever-concerned for the well-being of sentient beings, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has continued to receive disciples and believers alike every Saturday without exception throughout the pandemic, alleviating their afflictions and suffering with the Dharma. Likewise, Rinpoche has also persistently continued to hold Sunday pujas within the limits of government restrictions. Aware of the fact that this is a time in which others are suffering and need the Dharma the most, Rinpoche has committed as much to uprooting their pain and bringing them joy as ever. And thus, now that the pandemic is in recession and restrictions are being lifted, Rinpoche has promptly respectfully invited his root guru, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, to come to preside over this puja and create causal conditions and karmic fortune for sentient beings. In these trying times, Rinpoche continues to benefit others without self-concern, while at the same time demonstrating the fearless and compassionate aspiration of a great practitioner.

Abbot guru of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche first lead the puja attendees in welcoming his root guru His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang as he arrived at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei.

As the puja began, With a welcoming contingent of incense burners, musical instruments, and a jeweled parasol leading the way, His Holiness and H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche set foot upon a white carpet of Eight Auspicious Symbols scattered with fresh flowers.

His Holiness paid obeisance before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas above the mandala and reverently presented a khata offering.

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche made three prostrations before His Holiness, a Dharma photo of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Rinpoche then began: “Today we have the great fortune of welcoming His Holiness to our Buddhist Center to preside over the Guru Yoga. Tomorrow is Lord Jigten Sumgon’s parinirvana anniversary, and as it is a Monday, and everyone has to go to work, we are performing this puja a day early. This is also the first time everyone has been able to attend a puja at once since Taiwan began lifting its coronavirus restrictions. And now, you have the great fortune of seeing His Holiness lead us in this puja in person. Thus, let us thank His Holiness.” (The attendees all thanked His Holiness in unison.)

At this time, His Holiness instructed Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to lead the attendees in reciting the Drikung Kagyu Guru Yoga Ritual.

Rinpoche said: “The first part of the Guru Yoga is uncommon aspiration prayer. This is the aspiration prayer that we recite in the Vajra and Bodhisattva vehicles, and those from the Lesser Vehicles usually do not recite this prayer. We will recite it in Chinese while His Holiness listens.”

After a period of recitation, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the ordained disciples of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center and the general director of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Cultural Exchange Association in making mandala offerings to His Holiness and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as they implored the Dharma from them.

Rinpoche made respectful grand prostrations before His Holiness.

Rinpoche then respectfully asked that His Holiness lead everyone in reciting mantras. And after His Holiness taught the pronunciation and auspicious meaning of the Guru Yoga Heart Mantra, the recitations began.

Afterwards, His Holiness said: “Here, we will perform a Tsok offering. And after that, we will transfer merits. But now, I want to take this opportunity to briefly talk about the biography of Jigten Sumgon. Last month, I finished writing a detailed biography of Lord Jigten Sumgon in commemoration of his 803rd parinirvana anniversary. Now I have had it sent to the Mainland China to have it translated into Chinese. Once this is finished, you should get to see the translation in as soon as a month from now.”

“Let me briefly explain. Jigten Sumgon was born in Yushu, Tibet, which is also a land of Mahayana Buddhism. Now, there is a new airport there called the Yushu Batang Airport, and across from it is a mountain called Sgrolmalha. This is where Achi realized emptiness and became a Dakini, and also where Jigten Sumgon was born. For the 800th anniversary of Jigten Sumgon’s parinirvana, the local government of Yushu assembled academics from all over to confirm that this was indeed the location where Jigten Sumgon was born, and erected an Italian stone across from the airport which reads: ‘Birthplace of Jigten Sumgon.’”

“Jigten Sumgon was born in 1143 A.D., and he exhibited great compassion at just five or six years old. For example: Around that time, there was a great famine, and yet when Jigten Sumgon saw a dog with many puppies who was about to starve to death, he took it somewhere no one would see them and spit up what he had eaten to feed the dogs. And there was no candy like we have now when Jigten Sumgon was little. All he had was a brown sugar chunk. But he didn’t eat it himself, but rather, when he came across a blind beggar, he put it in the beggar’s mouth. There are all kinds of stories of compassion like this about Jigten Sumgon.”

“When Jigten Sumgon was 19, there was a seclusion area in Nangchen area. I didn’t know this before; I only just received a photo of it recently. He did a three-year retreat there, and he was smart. He was in seclusion for three years, from the ages of 22 to 25. Once he heard the name of his guru, Phagmodrupa, for the first time, he couldn’t sleep. And that night, he got someone to help him, and with a devout heart, travelled through the night to Phagdru Mountain in Tibet to see his guru. There is another story about him that I will be telling at another puja tonight at seven o’clock, so I won’t tell it here.”

“After travelling through the night to Phagdru Temple, he followed his guru for a total of 33 months and 13 days until the time of Phagmodrupa’s parinirvana. Then, at 29, Jigten Sumgon did a three-year cave retreat at Echung Mountain in Lhokha, before then returning to Phagdru Temple to circle and make offerings at Phagmodrupa’s stupa. He used to have his own seclusion hut there, and stones were laid there for the stupa.”

“After this, Jigten Sumgon travelled to Lhasa on foot, which could have taken as much as a year. And he also visited Qokang Temple, Rechung, and Taklung Temple. Then, after 2 years, he returned for another retreat. He said that he never did a true retreat during these three years, but, of course, he did many. It was just that he never had any realizations about true practice. But in those final 2 years, he did well in his practice, and it was then that the attainment of his merits occurred. ‘If you go on this way, enlightenment will be no problem for you.’ This is what he said.”

“At 34, Jigten Sumgon had not yet taken the full bhikkhu vows. This was because he had been all over, and he had some problems with eating. And so, it wasn’t until he was 35 that he took the full bhikkhu vows. And although Phagmodrupa had over 500 jeweled parasol disciples, at 35, it was Jigten Sumgon who was elected to act as abbot for Phagdru Temple. But after three years, Phagmodrupa came to Jigten Sumgon in a dream, and told him to give an old cushion he had away and go to central Tibet, and that he would have a great Dharma career. And so, that night, he assembled the main lamas of the temple and told them he would be giving up his position as abbot. They all asked that he stay, but, nonetheless, he left that night with three or four trusted attendants and headed for central Tibet. Later, he heard that there was a great place called Drikung, and he grew excited, and decided to go there.”

“Around that time, one of Phagmodrupa’s disciples in Drikung had just passed into parinirvana, and he had about 30 disciples of his own whom he had told to give his land over to Jigten Sumgon if he ever went there. And so, when this causal condition came to fruition after his parinirvana, Drikung Thil was handed over to Jigten Sumgon. And that very day, he started building seclusion huts, and the Drikung Thil Monastery, and started the Drikung Kagyu lineage. Thus, in 1179, the foundation was laid for the first Drikung Kagyu monastery, and here, the lineage was born.”

“When he was 39, Jigten Sumgon went to Namtso in the northern pastures of Lhasa, Tibet. There are several large lakes there, and the descendants of some of the old kings of the Tibetan Empire used to reside in that area. Jigten Sumgon became their guru, and they made offerings to him. He didn’t actually want to live there, but as he had been invited by lamas from Phagdru Temple, he went regardless. The king of the time gave him significant offerings as well, and so he sent someone to Nepal to have a great golden jeweled parasol made for Phagdru Temple, and placed above Phagmodrupa’s stupa. He then went to Drikung when he was 41. When he was 44, the first incarnation of Karmaba arrived in Drikung as well, and the two met. Karmaba said that Jigten Sumgon was the reincarnation of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna. And, in fact, the first reincarnation in Tibet started with the first incarnation of Karmaba.”

“Karmaba wasn’t the only one to say Jigten Sumgon was the reincarnation of Nagarjuna. By that time, there was actually already an arhat in Sri Lanka who had long since discovered this. There was a scholar from Kashmir in northern India, and as Buddhism in India was being ravaged by Islam at the time, many scholars had fled to Tibet, Indonesia, and other countries in southern Asia. Around that time, a pair of brothers heard that there was a famous arhat in Sri Lanka who possessed divine knowledge. And so, they went there, and met with him after a month of waiting. And after their meeting, the arhat recommended they go to Tibet, and gave them two flowers: one to offer to the Shakyamuni Buddha statue at Qokang Temple in Lhasa, which had been brought over by Princess Wencheng, and another to give to Rinchenbe (Jigten Sumgon) in northern Drikung, who he said was the reincarnation of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna.”

“As Karmaba also believed Jigten Sumgon was the reincarnation of Nagarjuna, there were multiple accounts written saying he was Nagarjuna’s second birth. When Jigten Sumgon was 45, two wealthy tusi from Phagdru Temple (both benefactors to the temple) were on the verge of fighting due to internal conflicts, and he went out of his way to help them resolve the issue and unify Phagdru. At the time, there were people who thought the temple belonged to them, and this resulted in conflict. But after Jigten Sumgon took over the temple, there were no more conflicts. And afterwards, Jigten Sumgon sent 200 lamas over to rebuild Thil Monastery. From then on, his guru’s temple — Phagdru Temple (Densathil Monastery) — became the Drikung Kagyu lineage’s main temple, alongside Drikung Thil Monastery. And thus, that is when this all began.”

“Jigten Sugmon spent a great deal of time teaching the Dharma at Drikung Thil Monastery, and he started doing Summer and Winter teachings, as well as public ones, and private 10-person and 3-person ones. Then, at 49, he fell ill, and went into seclusion. At the time, there was a significant number of lamas there. Once Jigten Sumgon went into seclusion, he had wanted to take in a thousand lamas, and send them all on retreat. And by this time, there were more than a thousand, with over 300 minor lamas. And so, as he knew of a place in Lhasa that taught the basic practices, he sent them all there.”

“At the time, the followers at Phagdru Temple wanted to build a stupa, and a bigger monastery, and so Jigten Sumgon sent several young lamas over to help, while the older ones went to Gangdise, Lapchi, etc. to go into seclusion. All of the experienced practitioners were sent there, and he did his retreat as well, and thus didn’t go to the monastery. Everything he owned where he lived in the monastery was sent up to him without exception, and from then on, he remained in a cave. And when the lamas from Drikung Thil tried to bring him back, he said he was in seclusion, and that they would have to choose: either he would remain in the mountains and them at the monastery, or they would go into seclusion in the mountains and he would return to the monastery. And so, they agreed to go into seclusion, and Jigten Sumgon returned to the monastery while all of the other lamas went into the mountains.”

“Jigten Sumgon was ill in his 50s. He was in constant pain for 9 months, and his hands and feet became swollen. Later, he got well practicing yoga. After that, Jigten Sumgon began writing his famous work, Gongchig. Back then, Tibet had two camps: the scholars and the practitioners, and their academic views differed significantly. As a result, Jigten Sumgon’s main disciples asked him a lot of questions — 150 in total. Thus, Jigten Sumgon answered all 150 questions one by one using this academic understanding and experience as a practitioner. There were debates. An academic understanding isn’t enough; one must do actual practices in order to become realized. There were debates about a lot of questions, including those about Sakya. And so, when he was 60, Jigten Sumgon finished this text with the answers to those 150 questions. To date, 13 of Jigten Sumgon works have been compiled and serialized. When Jigten Sumgon was 70, Gangdise was one of their main locations, and there were about 55,550 practitioners from Drikung at the time.”

“At some point, a Drikung disciple went to Bhutan after finishing his seclusion at Bragri Mountain. At the time, Bhutan hadn’t yet adopted a state religion, and the people there practiced Bon. But after his arrival, Tibetan Buddhism became the national religion of Bhutan. There was no king back then, and he became their highest political and spiritual leader. He made offerings to Jigten Sumgon seven times, and for his final offering, he gave Jigten Sumgon 100 sets of every item, including 100 large horns, 100 small horns, and 100 peacock feather jeweled chatras. These details aren’t recorded in the Drikung Kagyu history, and a lot of people from the lineage don’t know this. But I found a famous scholar who has had nearly 50 volumes of works compiled in China. And in putting together this history of Jigten Sumgon, I’ve added these details so that you can see them.”

“He also made a total of four mandala offerings when imploring the Dharma from Jigten Sumgon, and this was the final time that he did so. At the time, Jigten Sumgon was 60. Below the Drikung Thil Monastery, the leader of the offerings procession had already arrived, while those at the rear of the procession were still in Bhutan, loading items onto yaks, oxen, and horses to have them sent in one by one. And thus, the front of the procession was at the monastery while the rear was still in Bhutan. This is a detailed historical account.”

“At the time, there were a total of 55,550 ordained practitioners at Lapchi. There are accounts that state lamas used small boulders to count the lamas there one by one, and they counted 55,550. When Jigten Sumgon passed into parinirvana, there were 180,000 lamas at Drikung Thil. This is also mentioned in the 5th Dalai Lama’s biography. What is incredible about Jigten Sumgon is that when he passed into parinirvana at 75, his parinirvana was originally scheduled for the 25th day of the 4th month of the dragon calendar. But then, they requested that he remain a few days longer, and this was approved; thus, he passed on the 27th instead. In addition, they asked him what day should be used for his memorial, and he instructed to use the 25th day of the dragon calendar (tomorrow). This is a brief history of Jigten Sumgon. We can see a more detailed account in the Drikung Kagyu’s biography of Jigten Sumgon.”

“And now, I want to take this opportunity to talk about meditation. Many of you know what it means to sit, and meditate. Meditation means not being lost in thought. In Chinese, the character for meditation is made up of the characters for ‘reveal’ and ‘single,’ representing singular thought. We cannot be of two minds in thought. Phagmodrupa said: ‘Non-duality is Mahamudra.’ If you speak of two things (such as right and wrong, good and bad, etc.), then that is not Mahamudra. Non-duality is Mahamudra: one thing, non-dual, integrated, and focused. This is the basic idea.”

“For our Drikung lineage, relaxation is important when meditating. This is difficult for a lot of us, and we can get lost in thought in just five minutes. There is a specific method we employ in our meditations: we watch the breath. A lot of people say counting the breath is a Lesser Vehicle practice. ‘Vipassana is a lesser vehicle practice, and a Theravada teaching.’ But this is wrong. In the second Vinaya Pitaka of the Tibetan translation of the Buddhist Canon, Shakyamuni Buddha teaches several kinds of breathing methods. It is just that we don’t make full use of them. But these methods are in our Dharma texts and the Buddhist Canon in our Tibetan translations. They aren’t written in full from start to finish, but there is a variety of content about this, including that which comes from Sariputra Buddha.”

“It is said that in the beginning, Shakyamuni Buddha went to Shravasti, where he practiced asceticism for seven years without finding what he sought. Thus, he gave up asceticism, and started doing breath meditation, and it was then that he became enlightened. A lot is written about the breath, and we should cultivate our meditation abilities. Meditation means not being lost in thought, and being of focused mind. How do we do this? By focusing on the breath. We can do either longer breathings or shorter breathings.”

“Usually, when we breathe, we inhale and exhale, in and out, and this is what we focus on. But this isn’t easy either. There are specific methods for this from Vietnam and France. For instance, one may count one’s breaths, counting 1 on the first breath, and then 2, and so on, all the way to 10 before starting over again. For those without a foundation of experience, it is difficult to focus at first, and so one can use this method of counting to 10. In the beginning, we often get lost by 5 or 6. But you must count from 1 to 10, and repeat this again and again. And then, you can gradually move on to counting to 15. And, eventually, you may no longer need to count at all, and your breath will naturally adjust after a period, and settle. And so, when the time comes to do this, you need to count, and make use of the various other methods. This is better for you. And now, next, we will be performing the Tsok ritual.”

After respectfully inviting His Holiness to light a lantern offering for the Buddha, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche personally placed the offering upon the mandala himself.

Then, he lit another lantern offering for the Buddha, and instructed the ordained disciples to do the same as representatives for all sentient beings.

The eight offering maidens then sang in clear, resonant voices as an offering to their guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, thanking them on behalf of all beings. And then, tea and rice offerings began.

This was followed by the Tsok ritual, and every attendee received a puja offering, and was bestowed the rare and auspicious opportunity to share a meal with their guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas during the puja.

Rinpoche then led everyone in reciting the dedication prayer and long life prayer for His Holiness; and, together, His Holiness and Rinpoche led everyone in reciting the Aspiration Prayer for Rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land of Utmost Bliss and An Exhortation to Bring Forth the Bodhi Resolve.

After the ritual and merit transfer, Rinpoche led the disciples and others in thanking His Holiness. As the puja came to its perfected conclusion, Rinpoche attended to His Holiness, and helped him descend the dharma throne. The Glorious Jewel disciples thanked His Holiness for his auspicious rituals, and Rinpoche for bestowing them with this precious opportunity, and gave His Holiness a reverent sendoff.

Back to Homepage

Updated on June 19, 2020