WHAT IS CHÖD?
Chöd was originated in the 12th century by Machig Labdron (1062-1153 C.E.), a highly realized female lama. The purpose of the practice was to develop wisdom and compassion; to heal the sick, remove obstacles, and purify an environment of negative forces using peaceful means.
Chöd takes a nonviolent yet radical approach to healing by welcoming negative mental states and harmful forces. These are referred to in the tradition as internal and external “demons (bdud),” that might normally give rise to fear and reactivity. Instead of fighting against them, we nourish them, offering our own bodies. This allows them to become allies. Through this process we uncover the truth of our indestructible nature.
CHÖD LINEAGES IN THE GELUG
The Gelugpa (dGe lugs pa) has transmitted two Chöd lineages. The first is the Ganden Oral Lineage (dGa' ldan snyan brgyud). It is also called the Ensa Oral Lineage (dBen sa snyan brgyud), named after Gyelwa Ensapa (Gyal ba dBen sa pa, 1505-1566). This renuncient lama popularized the Gelug Chöd lineage two centuries after Tsongkhapa (Tsong kha pa, 1357-1419), the founder of the Gelugpa.
This lineage is primarily carried out through practicing Gyulü Tsogsu Ngowa: Dedicating the Illusionary Body as Tsog Offerings (sGyu lus tshogs su sngo ba).
The other Chöd lineage is the Dakini Oral Lineage (mKha' 'gro snyan brgyud). The Dakini Oral Lineage is also called both the E lama's Chöd (E bla ma'i gcod) after E Lama Geleg Pelsang (E bla ma dGe legs dpal bzang, 1385-1428), and the Geleg Oral Lineage (dGe legs snyan brgyud) after Geleg Ngagwang Puntsog (dGe legs dNgag dbang phung tshogs). Both masters, E Lama Geleg Pelsang and Geleg Ngagwang Puntsog, contributed to the development of the lineage.
MACHIG DÂKINÎ ORAL LINEAGE
1.Dakini Oral Lineage
The major text of this lineage is known as Shiwa Lamsab (zhi ba lam zab): the Profound Path of Peaceful Machig Labdrön, composed by E Lama Geleg Pelsang. It's actual title is The Treatise Easily Carrying the Yoga of the Continuity of the Profound Path According to the Machig Dakini Oral Lineage (Ma gcig mkha gro snyan rgyud lam zab rgyun kyi rnal byor khyer bde bkod pa). He also composed the extensive sadhana (sgrub thabs) of the Five Dakinis of Tröma Nagmo (khros nag sde lnga). This text is included in The Three Rituals, Self-, Front-Generation and Accomplishing the [Wish-fulfilling] Vase Together with the Initiation Ritual of the Black Wrathful Ma gcig called "The Treasure Accomplishing Siddhis Which Fulfill Wishes" (Ma cig khros nag sde lnga'i bdag 'dun bum gsum dang dbang cho ga dang bces pa bsam phel dbang rgyal dngos grub pa'i gter mdzod).
E Lama Geleg Pelsang was was the reincarnation of Gyelwa Dröndrub (rGyal ba don grub), a lineage holder and the son of the founder, Machig Labdrön. He was born in a part of southern Tibet in a place called E, after which he was named, near the birthplace of Machig.
Geleg Ngawang Pungtsog composed the important uncommon initiation text, Opening the Door to the Sky for Providing the Initiation of Peaceful Ma gcig called "The Clear Light Benefiting Others" (Ma gcig zhi ba'i dbang bskur cho ga nam mkha' sgo 'byed gzhan phan 'od ser).
The guru yoga according to the Dakini Oral Lineage is practiced based on the root text Shiwa Lamsab: The Profound Path of the Peaceful One. The concise daily practice of this root text is practice in an abridged form called The Practitioner of Chöd called Pervading Space (gCod mkha khyab ma nyams su len pai gang zag mKha khyab ma) or more commonly known Kakyabma (mkha khyab ma) written by renuncient Chozeling Lama Rinpoche Jadrelwa Lobsang Yeshe (Chos zed ling lha ma rin po che Bya dral ba bLo bzang ye shes), a disciple of E Lama.
There are two major streams in the Dakini Oral Lineage.
2.The Distant Lineage (Ring brgyud) of the Dakini Oral Lineage
The Distant Lineage up to Vasubandhu is the same as the Ganden Oral Lineage:
(Prajñâpâramitâ-->Tara-->Sukhasiddhi (Mother lineage)/ Shakyamuni Buddha-->Manjusri-->Aryadeva (Father lineage: profound view) /
Shakyamuni Buddha-->Maitreya-->Asangha-->Vasubhandu (Father Lineage: vast practice).
According to the root text of the Dakini Oral Lineage, The Profound Path of the Peaceful Machig (Zhi ba lam zab), the rest of the Distant Lineage is as follows:
•Phadampa Sanggye (Pha dam pa sangs rgyas) (died in 1117)
•Sönam Lama (bSod ames bla ma)
•Machig Labdrön (Ma cig lab sgron) (1055-1154)
•Gyelwa Döndrub (rGyal ba don grub)
•Khambu Yagleg (Kham bu yag leg)
•Thönyön Latön (Thod smyon la ston)
•Khugom Chöseng (Khu sgom chos senge)
•Dölwa Sangthel (Dol pa zang thal)
•Gyanag Cherbu (rGya nag gcer bu)
•Sanggye Rabtön (Sangs rgyas rab ston)
•Sanggye Gelong (Sangs rgyas dge slong)
•Sanggye Tönpa (Sangs rgyas ston pa)
•Chöje Rinchen Bum (Chos rje rin chen bum)
•Zoki Repa (Dzo ki ras pa)
•Arig Gopa (A rig sgo pa)
•Künga Sangpo (Kun dga bzang po)
•Drogön Zenying (Gro mgon mdzes snying)
•Sönam Rinchen (bSod ames rin chen)
•Lodrö Rabne (bLo gros rab gnas)
•Machig Köncham (Ma cig dkon lcams)
•Jangchub Rinchen (Byang chub rin chen)
•Jetsün Pelsang (rJe btsun dpal bzang)
•Sönam Wangchug (bSod ames dbang phyug)
•Ngagchang Kuche (sNgags chang sku byed)
•Dorje Gyeltsen (rDo rje rgyal mtshan)
3.The Near Lineage (Nye brgyud) of the Dakini Oral Lineage
The Near Lineage (Nye brgyud) of the Dakini Oral Lineage starts from Chöying Rangdröl (Chos dbyings rang grol) or Chönyi Rangdröl (Chos nyid rang grol) (1604-1669). He was the teacher of the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngagwang Lobsang Gyatso (dNgag dbang bLo bzang rgya mtsho, 1617-1682). Chöying Rangdröl received Chöd transmission from the teachers of the Kagyüpa (dKa rgyud pa), one of the four major schools in Tibetan Buddhism. This Chöd transmission of Chöying Rangdröl reveals the close relationship between the Dakini lineage in Gelug and in Kagyü. In fact, some Kagyü teachers are also earlier Dakini lineage teachers. Some of the more prominent influences in the Dakini Oral Lineage from Kagyü are reflected in melodies and methods of beating a Chöd drum (damaru).
The Near Lineage is as follows:
•Chöying Rangdröl (Chos dbying rang grol)(Chos nyid rang grol) (1604-1669)*
•Lodrö Rabne (bLo gros rab gnas)
•Machig Köncham (Ma cig dkon lcam)
•Sönam Wangchug (bSod ames dbang phyug)*
•Ngagchang Kumche (sNgags chang sku mched)
•Dorje Gyeltsen (rDo rje rgyal mtshan)
•Sanggye Sangpo (Sangs rgyas bzang po)
•Sanggye Lodrö (Sangs rgyas blo gros)
•Sönam Lhündrub (bSod ames lhun grub)
•Damchö Tsomo (Dam chos mtsho mo)
•Karma Dargye (Karma dar rgyas)
•Lhawang Rigzing (Lha dbang rig dzing)
•Ngagwang Phungtsog (Ngag dbang phung tshogs)*
•Kelsang Tsognyi (sKal bzang tshogs gnyis)
•Kelsang Chöwang (sKal bzang chos dbang)
•Chöden Kelsang (Chos ldan skal bzang)
•Lobsang Rabten (bLo bzang rab brtan)
•Geleg Pelsang, E Lama (dGe legs dpal bzang, E bLa ma) (1385-1428)*
•Lobsang Yeshe, Chözeling Lama Rinpoche Chadrelwa (bLo bzang ye she, Chos zed ling lama rin po che Bya dral ba)
•Gendün Gyeltsen (De dun rgyal mtshan)
•Geleg Rabgye, Lhatsün Rinpoche (dGe legs rab rgyas, Lha btsun rin po che)
•Jigme Gyeltsen (Jig med rgyal mtshan)
•Jampel Namdröl, Khalkha Jetsüun Dampa Rinpoche (Jam dpal rnam grol, Khal kha rJe tsun dam pa Rinpoche) (1932- )
According to Khalkha Rinpoche, the Dakini Oral lineage was once very popular and many practitioners, attracted by its beautiful melodies, appeared in Lhasa. The chanting melodies of The Profound Path of the Peaceful Machig (Zhi ba lam zab) were heard in every corner of Lhasa. Sangri Khangmar (Zangs ri khang dmar or Zangs ri mkhar dmar), on the side of the Brahmaputra River in the southern part of Tibet, is the place where Machig Labdrön spent the last half of her life. There are several temples and monasteries where it is said that the sadhanas of The Profound Path of the Peaceful Machig and The Tröma Nagmo (khros ma nag mo) in the Dakini Oral Lineage were practiced. Near Machig Labdröns birthplace, Lab, in the area called E, there was the monastery of Machigs son, Gyelwa Döndrub, called Tashi Langlhün (lang lhun). In addition to Tibet, it is said that the Chöd teaching of E Lama, the Dakini Oral Lineage, was spread throughout Mongolia. Most of the E Lama disciples who have received the teachings and initiations and have performed retreats according to the Dakini Oral Lineage were Mongolians.
At present the main lineage holder of the Dakini Oral Lineage are the Ninth Jetsun Dampa, Khalkha Rinpoche who has his temple in Dharamsala and currently resides in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.
Khalkha Rinpoche mentioned one example that illustrates that holding this lineage has not been easy. When this lineage was declining in the early 20th century, Kyabje Lhatsün (Lha btsun) Rinpoche, who was the teacher of Khalkha Rinpoche, went from Tibet all the way to Inner Mongolia to receive the transmission of E Lamas teachings and practices according to the Dakini Oral Lineage. At that time, Chöd practices, including the practice of The Seven-Evening Wilderness Retreat (gNyan khrod zhag bdun), were popular in Inner Mongolia. Lhatsün Rinpoche brought the tradition of the Dakini Oral Lineage from Mongolia back to Tibet after thousands of miles of traveling.
The Dakini Oral Lineage has also had some difficulty in transmission because traditionally these special initiations and teachings were kept very secret (bka kyab ma) and were not easily given to the public. In contrast to the Ganden Oral Lineage, the Dakini Lineage is still unknown to most Buddhists and scholars since no strong institutional connection has been made, as is the case with the Ganden Oral Lineage. As of today 2011, there is seen a revival of the Chod of the Dakini Lineage in Mongolia under the guidance of Khalkha Jetsun Dampa Rinpoche and his lineage holder, Osel Rinpoche.
In 1995 for the first time Khalkha Rinpoche visited the west and gave some students the appropriate initiations, qualifying them to practice the Dakini Oral Lineage and leading them in the Seven-Night retreat. In 2003 Khalkha Rinpoche also gave the initiations and instructions on practicing this lineage to those sincerely seeking to practice Chöd, when they came to his residence in Dharamsala, Takten House. Most of the latter students are Mongolian and Russian. Rinpoche lead the Troma Nagmo retreat called the 108-Spring Wandering retreat twice in Himarchal Pradesh, India, and twice in Mongolia. Currntly Osel Rinpoche from the Sera-me monastery is supervising Mongolian Chod students in Mongolia.
In 2009 Zasep Tulku Rinpoche bestowed the same chöd uncommon initiation to a group of students and led the Seven-night Wildness retreat, the training retreat for the Tröma Nagmo practice.
THE NINTH JETSUN DAMPA
The Ninth Jetsun Dampa (Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Khutukhtu) Jampel Namdrol is a Buddhist spiritual leader in Outer Mongolia. The 1st Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Khutukhtu was the incarnation of Tarantha who was the Dharma king of Jonang sect. When the 8th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa Khutukhtu was passed away in Mongolia in 1924, the People Revolution Government of Mongolia declared that they were not going to find his incarnation. This diplomatically terminated the incarnation of Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa in Mongolia at that time. The identification of incarnations had been in fact conducting confidently by the 13th Dalai Lama in Tibet. Eventually the 9th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa was identified in 1936. His existence was kept a secret all the time for safety reason. He left Tibet with H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959.
H.H. Dalai Lama declared the existence of the 9th Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa in 1991. H.H. Dalai Lama invited Khalkha Rinpoche to build his temple Takten House in Dhalamsala. In 2011 Khalkha Rinpoche was officially enthroned as a spiritual leader of Mongolians by H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama in Mongolia.