Thousand Eyes and Thousand Arms Avalokiteshvara     HOME Mani Teachings 2010

by His Eminence Nubpa Konchok Tenzin Rinpoche

Translated by Lama Nyandak

June 25, 2010

Stockholm, Sweden

Obtaining precious human life is very difficult.  Even for someone who obtained the precious human life, it is somehow also difficult to encounter the teaching of Buddha.  Even for those who have encountered the teaching of Buddha, it is somehow difficult to develop interest to listen and practise the Dharma. Now, we have obtained precious human life, have encountered the teaching of Buddha and have interest to listen and practise the Dharma. This shows that we are really fortunate. 

The teaching that we are going to receive now is Mahayana teaching. Not only Mahayana teaching, it is also Vajrayana teaching. Before we receive the teaching, it is important for us to develop bodhicitta.  It is said that the difference between Hinayana and Mahayana is whether or not an individual has bodhicitta. Therefore, both the teacher and students must have genuine bodhicitta wishing to help all living beings. The purpose of listening to the Dharma teaching is to increase our wisdom to benefit all living beings.  

The initiation that we are going to receive is the Thousand Eyes and Thousand Arms Avalokiteshvara - thousand arms represent Buddhas compassion in actions, thousand eyes represent a thousand Buddhas.  Avalokiteshvara manifests into many different forms. There are many different lineages of Avalokitieshvara’s teachings, the lineage that we are going to receive now is the lineage of Gelongma Palmo who was the daughter of King Uddiyana in India. When she was young, about 15 year-old, she was very beautiful and attractive. The King received letters from other kingdoms in India expressing their interest to marry her as Queen. The father followed the wish of the daughter who did not want to engage in mundane activities, had no intension to get marry at all. She gradually renounced and became fully ordained as bhikshuni and from that time onward, her name was Gelongma Palmo. Through her monastic education, she was well-versed in Buddhist teachings and practices. She was a well-known scholar and a great practitioner. Through her prolong practices, she was able to attain the common siddhis and up to uncommon siddhis. When she was about to attain the uncommon siddhis, because of her former negative karma from previous lives that started to ripen on her, she got the Leprosy disease. She lost her hands, and her limbs started to fall off. Unable even to bring food to her mouth, she had to eat out of her plate like an animal. Gelongma Palmo was subsequently thrown out of her house and was forced to live in a small straw hut all by herself as no one could stand to be with her because of her Leprosy disease.

During that time, she had a vision of the great Dharma King, Indrobodhi who told her, “Your must meditate and practise Avalokiteshvara.” She started reciting Avalokiteshvara’s mantra. She received prediction from deities, gurus and so on and one day she saw Manjushri in her vision and he told her to go to a place called Lakala where there was a temple and inside the temple, there was Avalokiteshvara statue and that she must go there.  When she approached the temple in Lakala, since people perceived leprosy disease as a very bad disease and people who suffered from leprosy were not accepted in the society, the door guard of the temple refused to let her go inside the temple. She had to sit outside. Behind the temple in front of the image of Avalokiteshvara, she sat and started practising Nyene (can drink and eat breakfast and lunch) and Nyungne (whole day fasting, not even a drop of water).  She had Nyene for one day when one can eat at lunch time and then next day she practised Nyungne (full day fasting). She made vow of not moving the seat until she gained realization. She was extremely diligent.

After practising for one year in this way, Gelongma Palmo’s practice had reached fruition in one particular month of the year during which the effects of one’s action are said to be multiplied.  On the 1st of the month, she had a vision of Tara, and she immediately reached the first bhumi of realization. Tara told her that she would accomplish all the activities of the Buddhas of the past, present and future. On the 8th day of the month, she had a vision of a particular form of Avalokiteshvara surrounded by other deities. She received the prophecy that she would be able to help beings in the same way as Avalokiteshvara. Then on the 15th day, which is the full moon, she finally had the realization of the Thousand Arms and Thousand Eyes Avalokiteshvara who appeared before her. Gelongma Palmo said to him “I have been practising for so long and it is only until now, after all these years, that I can see you. Why didn’t you come earlier?”

Avalokiteshvara replied to her, “It is not true.  The first day when you practiced Avalokiteshvara, I was there right in front of you. But somehow you were not able to see me because of your negative karma and obscuration.  Now after you have done practices, layers of karma and obscurations have been removed and because of that, you can now see me. If you do not really believe me, you can look at my costumes that I am wearing, it is caught up with your puss, blood and so on from your leprosy disease.” Gelongma Palmo’s body turned into a golden colour like golden light and she achieved the qualities of a 10th level Bodhisattva. Her sickness from leprosy disease was completely healed. She then composed the Praise to Avalokiteshvara (the one that we chant while we do prostrations druing the Nyungne practice). Through her practice of Nyungne, Gelongma Palmo was really certain that the practice can purify lots of our negative karma and obscurations. It is thanks to Gelongma Palmo that the Nyungne lineage originated. When we practise Nyungne, we use Gelongma Palmo as our example and inspiration because she had geat devotion, faith and determination. She often fell unconscious while meditating, but when she became conscious again, she would start practising again. She was in tremendous pain but she cured herself completely through her devotion. As Gelongma Palmo who overcame her great difficult through her diligent practice, it is also possible for us to overcome our difficulties just as Gelongma Palmo did. When we practise Nyungne, we can think of Gelongma Palmo again and again and we need not be afraid of this practice.

It is said that by practising one set of Nyene and Nyungne, it can purify our negative karma which we have accumulated about 80 000 eons. Generally speaking, there are many teachings that have been transmitted from Avalokiteshvara but Nyene and Nyungne practice was transmitted by the lineage of Gelongma Palmo. This teaching was first flourished in India and then spread to Nepal and then to Tibet. In Tibet, this teaching was flourished through one of the masters called Jangsem Dawa Gyltsen who was one of the emanations of Avalokiteshvara.  This has been practiced by all the lineages of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet. In the Drikung Kagyu lineage, this practice has been transmitted from the third His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, Padme Gyaltsen. And from that time onward, this practice has been practised and flourished within the Drikung Kagyu lineage. This lineage of Nyungne practice has been uninterrupted practised and exist in Tibet by it passing down from masters to students and from students to another students and so on until now.  We have this unbroken lineage of Gelongma Palmo Nyungne practice and I (His Eminence Nubpa Rinpoche) myself have received this transmission from the Drikung retreat master called Kulutriwa Rinpoche who gave instructions to the retreatants in the Drikung Thil area. He was the reincarnation of Tulku Chodrub. I have also received the empowerment from His Holiness Dalai Lama before 1959 in Tibet at His Holiness’ Summer Palace. I have practised this Nyungne practice and have also received reading transmission and empowerment. Today, we are receiving Avalokiteshvara initiation in the tradition of Gelongma Palmo. I am giving it to you thinking that, in the future, individuals who are interested in practising Nyungne can do it.


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May all sentient beings gain the flavor of supreme knowledge,
that the unexcelled joy of truth fill their minds and bodies;
May all sentient beings obtain all the excellent flavors of nonattachment,
and not be addicted to mundane tastes, but always diligently cultivate and practice all aspects of Buddhahood;
May all sentient beings gain the flavor of one truth
and realize that all Buddha teachings are without difference;

Last updated on 2010-11-04.