One of the great lamas that I had the privilege to meet was Lama Surya Das’ teacher, Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. I met him when he was staying at Sogyal Rinpoche’s apartment in Paris in the ’90’s. It was a great blessing to meet him. He called me Lama Hanuman. How wonderful. Here is an amazing teaching from him.
Via Richard Barron (Lama Chokyi Nyima)
Once I asked Khenpo exactly how he had become so realized, and he replied with his usual humility, “I don’t have any deep understanding; I just prayed to the lama.”
He would often speak of the power of devotion and prayer to evoke the realization of the innermost, essential nature of the mind. It was in this context that he told me a story that I shall never forget. It concerns Polu Khenpo Dorje, a truly great Dzogchen master, whose life is described in this book. He was born near Derge and received teachings from many masters, including Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro.
But his main teacher was Khenpo Ngakchung, who granted him the teachings of the oral lineage of Dzogchen and empowered him as a holder of “the ultimate lineage of realization.” After Polu Khenpo went into exile, he spent a lot of time in Bhutan. Shortly after Nyoshul Khenpo had arrived from Tibet, Polu Khenpo was talking to him about the different masters they had known. He mentioned one particular yogi, whom everyone thought was completely mad, and explained that this yogi had been one of his root masters.
Nyoshul Khenpo was surprised, as he knew of the yogi but did not know that he was a master. Then Polu Khenpo told this story.
It took place not long after Polu Khenpo had received the complete transmission of the instructions of the oral lineage directly from Khenpo Ngakchung. He was still a young man, and because he had been introduced to the nature of mind and felt he had received all the instructions, he was almost overconfident.
It was then that he met this mad yogi and straightaway sensed an uncanny connection with him. No one else took the yogi seriously, but Polu Khenpo knew there was something special about him. He decided that here lay an opportunity for him to clarify his meditation.
He began by trying to coax the yogi into teaching him, but he could not seem to engage him in any way, and the yogi was so unresponsive it was as if he was not even there. Finally, in frustration Polu Khenpo grabbed him and blurted out, “Look, even if you are not going to tell me in words, at least give me a sign by nodding your head. I am going to sit in the nature of my mind. Just tell me, please, I implore you, whether I have got it right or not.”
The yogi gave some indication that he had registered his request, at which point Polu Khenpo tried to sit in his best state of rigpa, which had just been freshly introduced to him by Khenpo Ngakchung. He sat there. A few minutes went by, and the yogi shook his head. Polu Khenpo gathered himself together and tried to sit once more. But again the yogi shook his head wistfully from side to side.
Once this had happened two or three times, Polu Khenpo was overtaken by a tremendous feeling of sadness. All his confidence seemed to seep away, and as his spirits sank lower and lower, he began, with all his heart, to pray to Khenpo Ngakchung and the masters of the lineage, begging for their inspiration and for some confirmation that all his study and practice had not been fruitless and that his realization was genuine.
A tremendous wave of devotion erupted inside him, and tears began to run down his face. He was so immersed in that rapture of devotion that he forgot everything.
He forgot his mind; he even forgot about the yogi. He lost track of time altogether, until suddenly he became aware of someone tugging at his sleeve. He opened his eyes and saw the yogi, leaning toward him, with a broad smile on his face. His head was nodding vigorously up and down.
What Nyoshul Khenpo showed through this story was that guru yoga and devotion are the most direct and powerful ways to evoke the view of Dzogpachenpo. He said once in a teaching he gave us:
According to Dzogchen, and the special approach of the great Dzogchen master Shri Singha, there is a way of recognizing the nature of mind solely through devotion. There are cases of practitioners who simply through their heartfelt devotion attained realization, even though their teacher had already passed away or was nowhere near them physically.
Because of their prayers and devotion, the nature of mind was introduced. The classic example is that of Jigme Lingpa and his consuming devotion for Longchen Rabjam.
Nyoshul Khenpo – A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems – Padma Publishing