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Northern Treasures


Beginning of the Northern Treasures


Text Preservation Project


Northern Treasures Lineage

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Pema Trinley, Dordrak Rigdzen Chenpo IV 1641-1718 C.E.

Pema Trinley, Dordrak Rigdzen Chenpo IV

The fourth incarnation of Rigzen Godem was born in 1641 at Namse Ling. Yolmo Tulku Tenzin Norbu met him and enthroned him at Dorje Drak Monastery at the age of six as the incarnation of Rigdzen Ngagi Wangpo, giving him the entire teaching of the oral and treasure lineages. He also received ordination from the Great Fifth Dalai Lama. After years of practice and study of both Nyingma and Sarma teachings, Pema Trinley discovered a few treasures of Padmasambhava, but these appear to not have survived; his main contribution was in organizing and preserving the existing teachings. His main teachers were the Great Fifth Dalai Lama and Choying Rangdrol. However, he received many teachings from other great masters such as Terchen Gyurme Dorje (Terdag Lingpa).

At the Dalai Lama’s inspiration, Pema Trinley composed a commentary on the Guyagarbha Tantra. He was also famous for teaching the Kalachakra Tantra as well as several Anuyoga texts. Since the time of Rigzen Godem, the Northern Treasures had been maintained in three streams: one from Rigzen Godem’s consort, one from his son Gompo Namgyel, and one from his students originating with Gompo Dorje. These three streams of practices were collected and combined into one by Pema Trinley who also wrote volumes of commentaries on the original treasures. His commentaries on how to perform rituals for the Northern Treasure Rituals are still those relied on in all centers and monasteries. In this regard, his kindness and help to the Northern Treasures is inestimable. His writings are the key that unlocks the Nothern Treasures. They are well known for combining amazing depth of meaning with elegantly simple syntax so that everyone can understand, each at their own level. In this way, Taglung Tsetrul Rinpoche has written that Pema Trinley's commentaries are like giving sight to the blind.

When the Dzungar Monglas invaded central Tibet in 1718, Dorje Drak was burned and many great masters were killed, including Pema Trinley. However, Pema Trinley’s work had laid a foundation making restoration of both the oral transmission and the treasure lineages inevitable.



Kalsang Pema Wangchug, Dordrak Rigdzen Chenpo V 1720-1770? C.E.

The incarnation of Pema Trinley had the responsibility of rebuilding the Dorje Drak monastery and traditions. Born into the lHa clan at Nya-rong Cagdud in the Bu-bor-gang region in southeastern Tibet, he was taken to Dorje Drak where he completed his studies as he rebuilt the monastery. According the Taglung Tsetrul, he lived close to 100 years. In addition to rebuilding the community and temples, he revealed two longevity teachings which were passed to two worthy disciples. These were given in turn to Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgong Kongtrul. Other writings have recently been discovered.



Khamsum Zilnon, Dordrak Rigdzen Chenpo VI late 18th c. - early 19th c. C.E.

The sixth rebirth of Rigzen Godem lived only a short time. Yet he accomplished the three fold mission of vast studies, long meditation and profound activities. He left a few writings including visions, prophecies and commentaries.



Kalsang Pema Wangyal, Dordrak Rigdzen Chenpo VIII mid 19th c. C.E.

The eighth rebirth was born in the Lhodrak region. After extensive study and practice he became so accomplished in the practice of wrathful enlightened forms that his abilities for protection and aversion of obstacles was recognized by the Tibetan government. He was able to avert many natural and man made calamities for the people of Tibet and his reputation was vast. A few volumes of his writings are still in existence.



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