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Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo, Introduction to Light of Wisdom, Volume 1

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 The Wisdom Essence, Introduction

The Wisdom Essence, a most precious, concise, and profound teaching by Guru Rinpoche which condenses the entire path.

Praised by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo as being more valuable than thirty yak loads of scriptures, it comprises together with a commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul, the last volume in both the Rinchen Terdzo and the Chokling Tersar.

The English translation contains three texts, combined and spread over five volumes:


The Wisdom Essence, by Padmasambhava as recorded by Yeshe Tsogyal, revealed and decoded by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Chokgyur Lingpa


The Light of Wisdom, by Jamgon Kongtrul


Entering The Path of Wisdom, by Jamyang Drakpa as recorded by Jokyab Rinpoche, Supplemented with clarifying remarks by H.H. Dilgo Khyentse and H.E. Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Translated from the Tibetan according to the teachings of Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche by Erik Pema Kunsang

Volume One: ground, preliminaries and Mahayana

Volume Two: ngondro and development stage/ yidam practice

Volume Three: the practices connectd to the second and third empowerments

Volume Four: Trekcho and Togal

Volume Five: fruition, enhancement and clearing hindrances

Translator’s Introduction

Lord of all mandalas, Lake-Born Vajra Holder,
Manifest in the form of a supreme vidyadhara,
Great lord and treasure revealer, only refuge for the people of Tibet,
Chokgyur Lingpa, I supplicate at your feet.

===Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo===

Knower of all things as they are and how they exist,
Through nonconceptual compassion, you consider all beings your children.

King of Dharma, who overturns the depths of samsara,
Khyentse Wangpo, I supplicate at your feet.

===Jamgon Kongtrul===

Perceiver of all to be k
nown, treasure of an ocean of virtues,
Lodro Thaye, foretold by the Victorious One,
Lord who encompasses all families, Padma Gargyi Wangpo,
Great Charioteer of the Jambu Continent, I supplicate you.

===Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo===

Having begun with three verses chosen by His Eminence Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche as worthy of summarizing the life and examples
of the three great masters whose enlightened qualities form the basis for this book, in this introduction I’d like to explain where the teachings contained in the Light of Wisdom came from, the masters who revealed, propagated, and preserved its tradition as well as the style of the book itself and how to approach it.

The Light of Wisdom presents the first part of Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo accompanied by a commentary composed by the illustrious 19th century Buddhist master Jamgon Kongtrul the Great.

===The Nature of Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo===

The Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo, the title of which translates to [[Gradual Pat] of the Wisdom Essence]], is a sacred scripture that records oral teachings of the ‘Second Buddha,’ Padmasambhava, given while he blessed Tibet with a 55 year visit during the 9th century.

This most precious, concise, profound teaching of Padmasambhava is a condensation of the entire path to enlightenment and, in its full version, it contains the pith instructions of the Three Inner Tantras: Maha, Anu, and Ati Yoga. Padmasambhava himself describes Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo in the following words:

This essence of the causal and resultant vehicles,
Especially the core of the realization of the three sections of the inner tantras,
Linking together the ground with the path,
Makes you abandon the temporary defilements along with their tendencies,
Realize fruition and quickly accomplish the welfare of self and others,
In this way it is in conformity with each yet exalted above them all.
This path of the wisdom essence, the epitome of all,
Is a magical means for realizing fruition.

Merely seeing it showers down the great splendor of blessings.
By hearing it one understands the meaning, and experience and realization burst forth spontaneously.
By practicing it for six months, giving up distractions,
The wisdom of the three vajras will naturally manifest.

Since Samantabhadra, Vajrasattva and Padmakara
Are ultimately indivisible and spontaneously complete as one,
I am the emanation-basis for all the infinite tantras,
The essential meaning and the oral instructions.

Yet, in appearance I manifest in all kinds of ways as magical displays of deeds in different modes of appearing,
Such as emerging miraculously in Dhanakosha
Or being born from a womb and so forth,
For the sake of guiding the disciples on the Jambu Continent.

Lord Amitayus at Maratika
And Maha Shri Heruka at Yanglesho
Bestowed upon me with the natural sound of dharmata
This sole quintessence of all the oral instructions.

If Garab Dorje, Shri Singha, the Eight Vidyadharas,
And all the supreme siddhas from whom I received the stages of the path
Were to hold a great Dharma discussion with one another,
There would be no other summary-manual than this compiling their realization.

Throughout the countries of Uddiyana, India, Tibet and elsewhere,
This is the unmistaken condensed meaning
Of all the infinite profound and extensive wheels of the Dharma
Such as guru sadhana, the Great Perfection, Avalokiteshvara and the Eight Sadhana Teachings.

In short, there does not exist an ultimate instruction other than this.

Expressed in few words yet including all that should be expressed.

Easy to comprehend and convenient to practice,

Without depending on anything else, it perfects the paths for those of lower, medium and higher faculties.

This is the self-resounding tantra of dharmata, the indestructible essence,
From the space of luminosity in the five-colored sphere within the heart of me, Padmasambhava.
It is the path traversed by all the buddhas of the three times.

Praised by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo as being more valuable than thirty yak loads of scriptures, the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo comprises together with the commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul, the important last volume in both the collections of termas and teachings renowned as Rinchen Terdzo and New Treasures.

Several biographies of Padmasambhava, the Lotus-Born Master, have been published in English, including The Lotus-Born (Shambhala, 1993) and Jamgon Kongtrul’s essay in Dakini Teachings (Shambhala, 1990).

It is therefore better for the reader to refer to them than for me to try to add anything here other than historical data.

Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche was renowned as establishing the tantric teachings in Tibet in the ninth century.

He ordered the concealment of his oral instructions in the form of hidden treasures, ‘termas,’ to be revealed by the destined disciple at the appropriate time. Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo is one such treasure.


The dakini, Yeshe Tsogyal, wrote down and hid many of Padmasambhava’s teachings, including the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo.

In his Ocean of Blessings, Jamgon Kongtrul says, "Yeshe Tsogyal appeared as an emanation of Dhatvishvari Vajra Yogini and was in essence not different from the consorts of the five buddhas.

In the dharmakaya aspect she is known as Samantabhadri or Prajnaparamita; in the sambhogakaya level she manifests in the form of the great consort Dhatvishvari; and therefrom she displays an inconceivable number of nirmanakayas, appearing in whichever way is necessary to influence whoever needs.

In the pure lands she appears in the form of Sarasvati, the noble Goddess of Eloquence, and shows the skillful means for generating the light of wisdom in all aspects of knowledge, both the outer and inner levels of philosophy.

In the presence of Buddha Shakyamuni, she emanated in the form of Ganga Devi and acted as the custodian of the treasury of the Mahayana teachings.

In this snowy land (of Tibet) she took rebirth as a qualified dakini into the family line of the Kharchen clan and became a consort accepted by Guru Rinpoche.

By the power of her immense training, she accomplished perfect recall.

Traversing the secret path of Vajrayana, right to the letter, she achieved the supreme vajra abode of the twelfth bhumi.

Perfecting the great power of realization of the natural Great Perfection, she arrived at the stage at the end of the four visions.

Acting as the compiler of all Guru Rinpoche’s words, she visited everywhere in the central and surrounding lands of Tibet and concealed innumerable major and minor termas.

At present she resides in the indestructible form of the rainbow body in the Palace of Lotus Light on (the continent of) Chamara where she is indivisible from the ‘never-ending adornment wheels’ of Guru Rinpoche’s body, speech, mind, qualities, and activities, pervading as far as the reaches of space to benefit beings for as long as samsara exists."


The main recipients of the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo were the king, the princes, the incarnated translator Vairotsana and Yeshe Tsogyal, the spiritual consort of Padmasambhava. The great master entrusted these teachings to a small gathering of his personal disciples during which he concluded with these words:

I will entrust it to the assembly of suitable vessels, the destined and qualified ones,
The king and his sons who are worthy recipients for the instructions,
Vairotsana whose realization is equal to mine,
And my spiritual consort who has rendered perfect service.

Do not let it dissipate, retain it in the core of your hearts.
Rely on it, engage in it, expound and practice it.
By means of it may all the infinite number of disciples
Accomplish the wisdom essence within the very same lifetime.

===Prince Murub Tseypo===

One of the principal recepients of the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo was the second prince, known variously under the names Yeshe Rolpa Tsal, Murub Tseypo or Mutri Tseypo.

An untitled and unpublished manuscript written by His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche explaining the Sheldam Nyingjang, herein called Commentary on the Essence Manual of Instructions, contains some background information on this prince:

"The single father King Trisong Deutsen had three sons of which the middle one was called Murub Tseypo, a lord of the tenth bhumi who in actuality and visibly had achieved the noble qualities of abandonment and realization.

Also known as the Prince Translator, he reached perfection in learning.

At the end, his bodily form vanished into the body of light and he attained the supreme accomplishment of perceiving the primordial wakefulness.

It is his magical reincarnation who appeared during this age of degeneration, renowned worldwide under the title Orgye Chokgyur Dechen Shikpo Lingpa, the universal ruler over an ocean of accomplished revealers of Dharma treasures."


In addition to the second prince who was reborn as Chokgyur Lingpa, another important person present during Padmasambhava’s transmission of Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo was King Trisong Deutsen who later incarnated as Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.

Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye is regarded as the emanation of the translator Vairotsana.

These three great masters met together again in the middle part of the nineteenth century in accordance with numerous predictions of Guru Rinpoche.

During a short period of time they revealed to the world an immense treasury of precious teachings.

To expand upon these masters, I requested Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche to give a short essay on their lives and qualities and his beautifully expounded anecdotes are included right after the introduction. More details of the life of this most wonderful masters can be found in The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, pages 859-868.

===Chokgyur Lingpa===

His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche describes Chokgyur Lingpa in his Commentary on the Essence Manual of Instructions,
"Quoting the omniscient Yonten Gyatso (Jamgon Kongtrul), ‘Your excellent aspiration is to consider the beings of the dark age; your excellent activity is to manifest in accordance with those to be tamed; your excellent life example is to uphold an unprecedented treasury of secrets; I supplicate you who are endowed with this threefold excellence.’

In accordance with these words, the embodied forms of the activity of the king (King Trisong Deutsen) and his sons who will never forsake the beings of this world are to an increasing degree unimpeded, even in this period of the dark age. And thus, there arose a new auspicious coincidence, the wonderful nature of which resembles the appearance of the Buddha in the world."

"The most important among the profound termas of this great revealer of Dharma treasures was the Four Cycles of Guru Sadhana, belonging to the Sadhana Section, and the Seven Profound Cycles, belonging to the Tantra Section, the latter of which were expressed in a terminology that is in harmony with the Oral Transmission (of Kama).

Each of these were endowed with the complete aspects of empowerment, sadhana, tantra, development stage and completion stage, each of which again were adorned with wonderful and profound details. In this way his Dharma treasures were totally unmatched."

"Together with these Dharma treasures he (Chokgyur Lingpa) also revealed sacred substances and innumerable most amazing representations of Body, speech, and mind. He was an unprecedented lord of a treasury of secrets, as if Dharmevajra had appeared in person."

"Moreover, the activity of his enlightened deeds was beyond partiality in both exposition, practice, and action, to such an extent that an untold number of learned and accomplished masters of Sakya, Geluk, Kagyu and Nyingma -- headed by the two lords of the Land of Snow, who are like the sun and moon in presiding over the chariot of the Dharma in this world, as well as their disciples and lineage holders -- all directly or indirectly accepted the nectar of his deep teachings; and thus the sunlight of these profound and extensive termas has shone far and wide for the Buddhadharma and all beings."

"Chokgyur Lingpa was assigned to become a master over one hundred sacred places and treasure troves and would have done so had the auspicious circumstances all been perfected. Nevertheless, there are thirty-seven profound termas well-known within the general domain of experience.

The most complete and concise is the root of blessings, the Heart Practice of the Vidyadhara Guru, endowed with an outer, inner, secret, and innermost section."

The Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo belongs to this fourth, the Innermost Cycle Dorje Drakpo Tsal.

===Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo===

Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892) was one of the greatest masters of the last century. Regarded as the last of the five terton kings, he became the master and teacher of all the Buddhist schools of Tibet and one of the founders of the non-secterian Rimey movement.

Described as a holder of the Seven Transmissions, he was together with his close friend Jamgon Kongtrul one of the codifiers of the Eight Chariots of the Practice Lineage.

There are ten volumes of his works in addition to his termas. In his Wish-fulfilling Source of Splendor, Jamgon Kongtrul describes his close friend, guru and lineage holder in these words, "Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Dorje Ziji Tsal, the king of all learned and accomplished masters, was the combined incarnation of the great pandita Vimalamitra and Tsangpa Lhayi Metok, King Trisong Deutsen appearing as a nirmanakaya for the sake of beings."

Among his other names are Kunga Tenpey Gyaltsen, Ösel Trulpey Dorje, and his terton name Padma Ösel Do-ngak Lingpa.

===Jamgon Kongtrul===

Jamgon Kongtrul (1813-1899) is also known as Lodro Thaye, Yonten Gyatso, Padma Garwang and by his terton name Padma Tennyi Yungdrung Lingpa.

He was one of the most prominent Buddhist masters in the 19th century Tibet and placed special focus upon a non-sectarian attitude.

Renowned as an accomplished master, scholar and writer, he authored more than 100 volumes of scriptures.

The most well known are his Five Treasuries, among which are the 63 volumes of the Rinchen Terdzo, the terma literature of the one hundred great tertons.

It is impossible to adequately describe the full scope of the impact this master has had on Tibetan Buddhism.


In the author’s colophon at the end of the commentary on Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo, Jamgon Kongtrul explains why he took the effort to write this text: "This brief commentary on the Oral Instructions in the Gradual Path of the Wisdom Essence , the background teachings for the Four Cycles of Guru Sadhana, (was written based on) receiving the command of both vidyadhara gurus, the two great treasure revealers and all-encompassing masters and lords of the circle; the spiritual sons of the fourteenth Omniscient King of the Victorious Ones, the two supreme incarnations in his family at Tsurphu who illuminate the teachings of the Kamtsang; and also the wise dakini Dechen Chodron with a gift of a golden flower, had for a long time encouraged me (to write).

Later on, in the company of the son of the terton, the vidyadhara Tsewang Drakpa , she again requested me. Headed by the bodhisattva spiritual teacher Tsa-nyag Lama Sherab, also other devoted people made insistent requests.

For these reasons, taking as the chief material the outline bestowed by the omniscient Jamgon Lama Rinpoche and the nectar of his words which I received directly, I have used whatever was present within the realm of my mind.

Taking also several appropriate parts from the eloquent expositions of other learned masters, this was written down in a legible and concise manner by an ignorant meditator, the mere image of a renunciant, by the name Padma Garwang Lodro Thaye, also known as Chimey Tennyi Yungdrung Lingpa Tsal, at the upper retreat of Palpung Shri Devi Koti known as the practice center of Tsadra Rinchen Drak.

May it be a cause for the unwaning light of benefit and wellfare for the teachings and beings to spread and flourish!"


The Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo is a terma revealed in unison by Chokgyur Lingpa and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and belongs to the fourth among an amazing set of terma teachings renowned as the Four Cycles of Guru Sadhana.

Tukdrub Barchey Kunsel In his Key That Opens One Hundred Doors to Accomplishment, Jamgon Kongtrul describes the lineages for these four cycles: "In general, the outer, inner, secret and innermost Four Cycles of Guru Sadhana were first received by Padma Ösel Do-ngak Lingpa.

Later Chokgyur Lingpa revealed, as his personal destiny, the Tukdrub Barchey Kunsel and so forth, establishing these terma teachings as perfectly trustworthy by combining mother and child like joining two rivers into one."

The Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo belongs to the fourth of the four cycles, the innermost cycle of the wrathful form of Padmasambhava, Dorje Drakpo Tsal, meaning Powerful Vajra Wrath.

Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo was revealed according to Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche in The Life and Teaching of Chokgyur Lingpa in the following way: "Chokgyur Lingpa traveled again to Derge in Eastern Tibet, now as a great lama.

Everyone considered him Guru Rinpoche in person and he brought great benefit to others. Dzongsar Monastery At this time he was invited to Dzongsar Monastery in Derge, from where he went to Rongmey.

At Rongmey, Khyentse Rinpoche and Chokgyur Lingpa called for Jamgon Kongtrul.

Chokgyur Lingpa told Khyentse, "A precious terma treasure is to be discovered, but you must call the king of Derge."

Khyentse Rinpoche wrote a letter and the Derge king came with many chiefs, filling the whole area with horses and men. Everyone went to Karmo Taktsang.

At the end of the town was a big cave where Guru Rinpoche had appeared in his wrathful form of Dorje Drolo.

There Chokgyur Lingpa sang many songs, saying, ‘Now I will take some termas. If everything is auspicious, and works out well, I have things to do for Tibet.’

Even Khyentse Rinpoche was amazed and sang a lot of songs. Chokgyur Lingpa told everyone to recite the Vajra Guru mantra and the Dusum Sangye prayer.

He said, ‘If the three of us work together, we can really do something.’

Proceeding to where the terma treasure was located, Chokgyur Lingpa Rinpoche put a note on a pine tree telling the guardian of the terma to give it to him.

Then they went to a rock. Chokgyur Lingpa opened the rock and extracted a vajra, leaving it half out and half in just for show.

He removed a terma box and let everyone come and touch it with his head. That was the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo."


As soon as the root text was revealed, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo taught it in detail after having established the outline, which flowed forth from his vast realization. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye used this outline as the framework for his commentary.

In the Key that Opens One Hundred Doors to Accomplishment, Jamgon Kongtrul says, "The most secret cycle for accomplishing the guru in the form of Powerful Vajra Wrath was revealed by (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Chokgyur Lingpa) together at Rongmey Karmo Taktsang.

From this cycle the Omniscient Guru (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo) decoded only the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo while the other teaching cycles were at that point not accessible."
In Clarifying the Aspects of the Auspicious Melody, Konchok Gyurmey Tenpey Gyaltsen, the second incarnation of Chokgyur Lingpa explains:

"The 31st terma, the cycle of the secret sadhana Dorje Drakpo Tsal, was revealed from the left side of the Secret Cave at Karmo Taktsang after having broken through thirteen consecutive seals.

But, due to circumstances it couldn’t be written down in its entirety. handprints of Chokgyur Lingpa Nevertheless, Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa succeeded in revealing the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo which is superior to one hundred loads of terma teachings.

As the extracted essence of the tantras, statements, and instructions, it is the background teaching for all terma treasures in general and for the Four Cycles of Guru Sadhana in particular.

Padma Ösel Do-ngak Lingpa (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo) decoded it from the yellow parchment and Chimey Tennyi Yungdrung Lingpa (Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye) wrote a commentary upon it.

Thus they established the tradition for expounding and studying this profound teaching which will shatter samsaric existence by merely hearing its name, which causes unconditioned wakefulness to grow forth when one studies it and reflects upon it, and which bestows the fruition of buddhahood when applying it in practical experience.

The commentary itself was also a terma teaching that arose from the expanse of sublime wisdom and a normal person, no matter how learned, will not be able to write such a book."

In the Garland of Jewels Tekchok Tenphel, the third tulku of Neten Chokling, summarizes: "The cycle of the secret sadhana Dorje Draktsal was revealed as Chokgyur Lingpa’s 31st terma from the left side of the Secret Cave at Chimey Taktsang, but due to a lack of auspicious circumstances all its parts were not written down in full.

Nevertheless, Chokgyur Lingpa took out the terma of Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo decoded it from the yellow parchment.

This profound teaching which was clarified by Jamgon Rinpoche (Lodro Thaye) was at first explained in great detail by the omniscient Dorje Ziji (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo) two times as soon as it was decoded.

(Jamgon Kongtrul later) gave the transmission for the commentary Spreading the Light of Wisdom and also the reading transmission mixed with explanations for the root text and commentary combined."

In the words of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche: "Prior to this Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo had been presented with a scroll containing the list of the termas through which he had gained certainty as to the preciousness of the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo.

At a certain point of time after that, he and Chokgyur Lingpa met together during a perfect coincidence of time and place.

This was predicted by Guru Rinpoche as the reunion of father and son in the sense that Jamyang Khyentse was the reincarnation of King Trisong Deutsen while Chokgyur Lingpa was the rebirth of the prince, the king’s second son. It was at Karmo Taktsang that they then revealed the cycle of termas within which the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo is included."


After Chokgyur Lingpa and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo had established the root text, this precious scripture was propagated by their chief disciples, headed by Jamgon Kongtrul, and has been transmitted in an unbroken lineage to this very day. Every lama who possesses the lineage for the Rinchen Terdzo or Chokling Tersar will evidently also be a holder of the reading transmission for Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo.

What follows are just a few of the many lineages for these two major sets of Vajrayana precepts.

His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpey Dorje, mentions in his Tob-yig, a record of teachings received, for the Chokling Tersar, that his transmission for the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo came through Dorje Ziji Tsal (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo), Padma Garwang (Jamgon Kongtrul), Khewang Loten Chogyal, Tsewang Norbu, Lama Chimey, (Surmang) Tenga Rinpoche and then to himself.

H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche similarly describes that his lineage comes from Chokgyur Lingpa to the two great masters, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul, and from all three of them to Tsewang Norbu, the son of Chokgyur Lingpa.

Tsewang Norbu transmitted to both Pema Gyurmey Tekchog Tenphel, the incarnation of Chokling at Neten Gompa, and to Konchok Gyurmey Tenpey Gyaltsen, the other incarnation of Chokgyur Lingpa who took up residence at Tsikey Monastery.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche’s root guru, the illustrious master Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro Rinpoche received the lineage from both incarnations of Chokgyur Lingpa.

His Holiness also mentions an alternate line of transmission as having passed from Tsewang Norbu through Katok Situ Pandita Orgyen Chokyi Gyatso and Yabje Rigdzin (Serpa Tersey) Gyurmey Tsewang Gyatso to Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, as well as from Tsewang Norbu to Samten Gyatso Rinpoche to Khakhyab Dorje, the 15th Karmapa who wrote many of the arrangements.

Tekchok Tenphel, the third incarnation of Chokgyur Lingpa at Neten who is the father of Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche and Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, describes his lineage for explaining the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo originared with Chokgyur Lingpa who took out the yellow parchment and gave it Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo who then decoded the symbolic dakini script. Having received detailed teachings twice from Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgon Kongtrul wrote the commentary.

From them the lineage went to the great khenpo Rinchen Namgyal, then to the second Chokling and from him to Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, his root guru.

Another lineage is from Tsewang Norbu to Chokyi Lodro, and a third line goes through Jamgon Kongtrul to Lama Tendzin Chogyal, to Tsewang Norbu, to Situ Gyurmey Tsewang Gyatso, to Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and then to himself. This is the lineage held by Lama ‘Putsi’ Pema Tashi.

The lineage of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Tsewang Chokdrub Palbar, is traced through Chokgyur Lingpa, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgon Kongtrul, Tsewang Norbu, and Samten Gyatso, as well as through Samten Gyatso to Karmapa Khakyab Dorje Gyalwang Karmapa Khakhyab Dorje and then to Jamgon Palden Khyentse Öser from who Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche received the Rinchen Terdzo.

Jamgon Palden Khyentse Öser, the son of the 15th Karmapa, was the reincarnation of Jamgon Kongtrul as well as the root guru of Kalu Rinpoche. In addition, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche received detailed instructions from Jokyab Rinpoche.

In recent years, the transmission for Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo and its commentary has also been passed on to most of the incarnate lamas of the Karma Kagyu lineage by Kalu Rinpoche and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.

Among the living masters of our time who either have or are about to transmit the Rinchen Terdzo or Chokling Tersar we also find His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, Dodrub Chen Rinpoche, Kela Chokling Rinpoche, and Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche.

The reason I mention this is that now, while you are holding this book in your hands, I encourage you to make the wish to request the transmission for Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo from one of these many authentic masters of the living tradition.

It has been a tradition to give a lengthy exposition of Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo as the ‘background teaching’ when conferring the empowerments for the New Treasures.

For instance, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse in 1978 passed on the transmission for the entire termas of Chokgyur Lingpa at Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling Monastery in Boudhanath, Nepal, to a large group of incarnate masters, ordained and lay practitioners,

including reincarnations of Chokgyur Lingpa,

Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, and

Jamgon Kongtrul,

headed by Trulshik Rinpoche,

Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche,

Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse,

Chokling Mingyur Dewey Dorje,

Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and

Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche,

Tulku Pema Wangyal and

Tulku Jigmey Khyentse,

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche,

Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche and his son

 Jigme Norbu Rinpoche, and many many others.

During this time His Holiness continued every day explaining Jamgon Kongtrul’s commentary,

The Light of Wisdom, showing its great importance. Being both deaf and dumb regarding the Tibetan language, it was during this time I formed the strong wish to understand and translate Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo.

Many years later, when requesting clarification on The Light of Wisdom, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse gave me his blessings and permission to translate the entire commentary, and also strongly suggested to read the Notes, a collection of annotations by Jokyab Rinpoche, entitled Entering the Path of Wisdom.

When mentioning this to Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, he revealed that he had personnaly carried this manuscript out of Tibet and, possessing the only existant copy, later lent to His Holiness for publication. This original manuscript was often consulted for verification.


The English translation of The Light of Wisdom, Vol. 1, is a combination of three texts:

-- Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo, The Gradual Path of the Wisdom Essence; the terma root text recorded by Yeshe Tsogyal.

-- The Light of Wisdom; the commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul.

-- Entering the Path of Wisdom; the notes collected by Jokyab Rinpoche.


The Gradual Path of the Wisdom Essence is the root text Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo.

It contains Guru Rinpoche’s oral instructions on the gradual path to enlightenment according to the Three Inner Tantras, Maha,

Anu, and Ati Yoga, as recorded by the dakini Yeshe Tsogyal and is a terma revealed by Chokgyur Lingpa and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.

The translated portion of the root text presented here includes the historical narration and the instructions that are common for all levels of practitioners.


The Light of Wisdom, a commentary on Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo by Jamgon Kongtrul the First.

This exposition of Guru Rinpoche’s teachings is because of its depth and encompassing scope considered by many masters to be a mind treasure in itself.

I shall now briefly sketch the contents of Jamgon Kongtrul’s commentary as it is structured here in the Light of Wisdom, Vol. 1. Jamgon Kongtrul follows the traditional writing style of a pandita with numerous levels and sublevels.

These divisions and their names are retained within the text, but as a kindness to the general reader, I have also used the structure of sections and chapters: three sections with a total of 15 chapters.

The first section contains three chapters covering the traditional front matter in which the author pays his respects to the masters of the lineage, here Padmasambhava, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Chokgyur Lingpa.

This homage followed by the author’s pledge to complete his writing, his synopsis of the topic and his method of explanation, are all included in Chapter One.

Chapter Two contains his clarification on the various levels of meaning expressed in the title, with special emphasis on the words Yeshe Nyingpo, Wisdom Essence.

Chapter Three covers the significance of the ‘dakini script,’ a secret code that is legible only to masters possessing the transmission of Padmasambhava. These characters are included on page 00 at the beginning of the root text.

The second section is called ‘The Explanation of the Actual Body of the Text’ and contains five chapters.

The two first, Chapter Four entitled The Setting and Chapter Five named The Circumstances are titles often used in the tantras, the sacred literature of Vajrayana.

These two chapters cover the historical background, The Setting explaining where and when, and The Circumstances details why and who requested the great master Padmasambhava to give this most precious teaching.

Chapter Six is a detailed clarification of ‘The Four Vajra SyllablesOM AH HUNG HOH, explaining how these four tantric syllables demonstrate the nature of all aspects of spirituality, here known as ground, path, and fruition.

In Chapter Seven Jamgon Kongtrul clarifies the meaning of the five perfections -- teacher, place, retinue, teaching, and time.

Together these five aspects show the Buddhist cosmology for propagating the Dharma on the three levels of dharmakaya, sambhogakaya, and nirmanakaya.

This chapter concludes with Padmasambhava’s injunction to his present and future followers, explaining the value of retaining and practicing the teachings.

Chapter Eight covers the meaning of the buddha nature, here called the ground.

The clarification of the ground, our basic enlightened essence, details both the basis for confusion as well as enlightenment, according to the general system of Mahayana as well as from the extraordinary perspective of the Great Perfection.

The third section is called ‘Path.’

By path is meant the period from the very outset of awakening faith and interest in liberation from samsaric existence and the attainment of complete enlightenment.

Among the seven chapters in this section, Chapter Nine covers the details of how to carefully and genuinely connect with a spiritual teacher.

Chater Ten explains how to develop true renunciation by means of reflection on ‘The Four Mind Changings,’ the preciousness of our human life, the sad fact that everything is impermanent, the inevitable consequences of our actions, and the nature of existence while under the power of ignorance and delusion.

In Chapter Eleven Jamgon Kongtrul describes in detail the reason and method for taking refuge under seven points.

Chapter Twelve covers the teachings on how to develop the genuine wish to attain enlightenment for the welfare of all sentient beings, here called the ‘Conventional Bodhichitta of Aspiration.’

Chapter Thirteen details how to implement this wish in action, how to train in the six paramitas and four means of attraction -- the conduct of a genuine bodhisattva.

In Chapter Fourteen is explained the ‘View of Ultimate Bodhichitta,’ the nature of emptiness of all things, both phenomena and the individual self.

Chapter Fifteen clarifies the ‘Meditation of Ultimate Bodhichitta’ as well as the path and result of Mahayana, leading to the state of unexcelled, true and complete enlightenment.


Entering the Path of Wisdom, a collection of annotations to the above commentary spoken by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo to one of his learned disciples, Jamyang Drakpa, and written down by Jokyab Rinpoche, a student of Jamyang Drakpa. Entering the Path of Wisdom, was written down as fragmented pieces of information and additional explanations to be used when teaching the Light of Wisdom.

They cast invaluable light on some of the more profound parts of Jamgon Kongtrul’s words and also filled out places with explanation which he had left as something meant to have been already understood by the person giving the teachings.

To shed further light on how the oral transmission of these teachings took place, I will repeat the words of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche: "Jamyang Drakpa was a student of both Jamgons (Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and Jamgon Kongtrul) and was present when the root text was revealed.

He is one of the sixteen destined disciples who would spread the teaching and is predicted in the root text Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo.

Consequently, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo told him "Your activity for the welfare of others is to propagate the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo. So do that!"

The explanatory lineage for the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo at one point rested on him. He had reached a high age, above eighty, by the time Jokyab Rinpoche came to receive the transmission for the Lamrim.

I knew Jokyab Rinpoche personally since I was fortunate enough to receive the teachings on the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo from him.

Jokyab Rinpoche also received the entire transmission for the Chokling Tersar from my uncle and guru Samten Gyatso Rinpoche as well as the Damngak Dzo from Khyungtrul Karjam Rinpoche.

Samten Gyatso Rinpoche sent a message to Dru Jamyang Drakpa, requesting teachings on the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo on behalf of Jokyab Rinpoche.

Jokyab remained with the great master Jamyang Drakpa for an entire year, but the teachings on the Lamrim did not commence during the first six months, due to the master’s advanced age and fragile health.

The first months were spent on questions on the Guhyagarbha Tantra with which Jamyang Drakpa was quite familiar, knew by heart and therefore didn’t have to look at pages in order to consult.

The second half of the year was spent on the Lamrim.

When Jamyang Drakpa finally began the explanations, Jokyab took notes on small pieces of paper, one after the other, so that at the end he had a heap almost the size of a volume of scriptures. Having returned to Tsikey Monastery, he organized and transcribed his notes and this collection is what is now known as the Zurgyen, the Side Ornament.

After this he went to Central Tibet."

His Eminence Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche received transmission for Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo from many great masters, including the reincarnation of Jamgon Kongtrul who was the son of the 15th Karmapa, but the detailed explanation he received from Jokyab Rinpoche himself.

In addition to the notes by Jokyab Rinpoche, I have added some clarifications from other masters.

In order to identify the various sources explained in the notes I have used the following codes: "[JOKYAB]" means that it is translated from Entering the Path of Wisdom.

His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche later corrected this text and where his opinion differs from the original words the mark "[DKR]" follows the note. "[TUR]" means that the information was transmitted orally by Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.

Clarifications from Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche are followed by "[CNR]". Annotations followed by "[EPK]" are my own, but of course based on oral teachings I have received from living teachers.

In addition, two other texts have been used to substantiate the three above:

1. The Illuminating Sunlight by Khenpo Rinchen Namgyal. A short commentary which is a simplified version of Jamgon Kongtrul’s Light of Wisdom embellished with his own learning and eloquence.

Also used is Mipham Rinpoche‘s Outline for Teaching the Light of Wisdom.

This outline was made according to the oral teachings of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.

Jamgon Kongtrul’s commentary, the Light of Wisdom, makes reference to the root text, the Wisdom Essence, only in an abbreviated way.

For the sake of easy reading, I have inserted the root verses in full at the appropriate places.

All quotations from the root text are denoted by bold script of a slightly larger size and are preceded by "The Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo root text says".


Level one: The root text by itself in connection with the oral instructions of a living master.
Level two: The root text with the Jamgon Kongtrul’s short commentary immediately following the quotations from the root text.

This short commentary is usually the first paragraph after the root text is quoted.

Level three: The root text with the extensive commentary by Jamgon Kongtrul, the Light of Wisdom.
Level four: The light of Wisdom together with the notes and appendices from Entering the Path of Wisdom.
This present book combines all four levels in the following way:

  1. The root verses are found seperately in the beginning of the book.
  2. The simplified commentary is what immediately follows the root verses and contain the words used in these verses.
  3. The extra quotations from the scriptures and additional explanations.
  4. The notes and appendices at the end of the book.


I would never have been able to undertake and complete such a difficult work without the help of many kind masters of the present time. Due to their great kindness, it has been my fortune to receive teachings and clarify questions chiefly from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche as well as other learned teachers including H. H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Tulku Pema Wangyal, Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, Khenpo Pema Sherab, Lama Putsi Pema Tashi, and Acharya Tubten Chophel. May this work in some way repay this kindness.

Also thanks to George MacDonald, Graham Sunstein, and Philippe O’Sullivan who at several states financially supported the translation work.
Many of my friends have given generously of their time and energy, lending their different skills in editing: Judy Amtzis, John Fredricks, and Ben Rosenszweig. Also thanks to my friends who read through the manuscript at various stages: Ani Jinpa Palmo, Ani Lodro Palmo, and Thomas Doktor. Special thanks to Graham Sunstein for help in locating information. Last but not least, the completion of this work is owed to my Marcia Dechen Wangmo, who helped at all stages of the production.
I dedicate whatever merit may arise from completing this work to the great masters of our day; may their lives be firm. May this effort act as conduit to the flourishing of Padmasambhava’s precious teachings and may innumerable beings benefit from putting these instructions into practice.

To conclude, I would like to repeat some of Padmasambhava’s words from the end of Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo.

There will be eight people with mind transmission,
Twenty-five supreme vidyadharas,
Sixteen who will uphold and spread it,
And two times five authentic dakinis.
If all of them are able to practice it,
They will achieve special supreme and common siddhis.

Moreover, there will be one hundred destined ones,
One thousand and eight who attain siddhi,
And eighteen times hundred thousand who gain connection.
Thus, there will be an inconceivable number
Of human and non-human disciples.

This Gradual Path of the Wisdom Essence,
Whoever writes it down with precious gold
Sprinkles it with the five nectars,
And, together with the samaya substances of means and knowledge,
Attaches it around the neck,
Or binds it at the top of the head,
Will be liberated through sight, hearing, remembering and touch,
And the wisdom of realization will effortlessly dawn.

Likewise, whoever reads and memorizes it,
Recites, explains or studies it,
Will be blessed by me, Padma.
So it’s needless to mention about someone who practices it correctly.

Erik Pema Kunsang
Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling Monastery,
Boudhanath, 1993