A Teaching on The Essence of Dependent Origination

from The Essential Amrita of Profound Meaning: Oral Instructions and Practical Advice Bestowed Upon Fortunate Followers, Eye-opener to What is to be Adopted and Abandoned

by Chokgyur Lingpa

To all the lord gurus, we make this supplication!
Guru of especially great kindness, please grant your blessings!

Lord Padmasambhava, king of the awakened ones,
is my very father, and I his heart son.
I am Chokgyur Lingpa, the tantric priest who lives up to his name!

The glorious forest hermitage, the Lhoyel cave,
is where all the transmissions of the great father reside.
Now, at this time when folks have gathered at this place,
I have discovered a treasure illustrious and profound,
which shall benefit all of Tibet and Kham.

There are auspicious omens in plenty, not manufactured, but spontaneously present.
I shall give some teachings on the essence of dependent origination.1
In answer to the questions of the mother Dekyi (Bliss and Joy) and her son,
I shall sing a song that is easily understood, that is brief yet clear.

To attain a body with the freedoms and advantages is no easy task.
Yet even this attainment is impermanent and will not last forever.
Thus, when you start to consider karma, cause and effect, you no longer dawdle.

Generally speaking, the suffering of samsara is all but impossible to bear.
The beings of this wicked age are especially so very miserable.
If you find disenchantment in all this, then practice the divine Dharma!

Just take a look outside at what people of this wicked age do,
then look within at your own relentless wants and needs—
consider this carefully, and you’ll see there is absolutely no point to it all!

If you are to practice the Dharma genuinely, first give rise to renunciation.
Then, with trust in the unfailing refuge of the Three Jewels,
place all your hope and trust in them.

Our path—the precious teachings of the Buddha—
has unfolded here in Tibet, and flourished in all locations,
without distinction of good and bad.

Thus, maintain pure perception toward all other practitioners
and enter a school that is free from controversy.
Maintain a strong footing in that tradition, while not disparaging others.

Cut through all your misunderstandings and doubts
under the care of a learned and accomplished master.
If you repeatedly request teachings from all over,
your practice will turn into a hodgepodge and you’ll be faced with samaya lapses.
You won’t be able to extract the marrow from any of the various practices
and your Dharma will be like a beggar’s tsampa flour.2

There is no need for such things, so give up your sarcasm.
Care equally for all mother-like beings scattered throughout the six realms
with loving kindness, compassion, and bodhicitta.

Take up the refuge vow and request the lay vows—
forsake killing, stealing donations, and inciting dispute!
Forsake deception and cursing—they don’t help anyone!
Forsake your ceaseless activities and all your wicked substances3—there is no end to them!

To quell the conditions which are non-conducive to the stages and paths,
exert yourself again and again in all the types of practices for purifying the obscurations.
To complete the accumulations, the conditions conducive to progress upon the path,
make offerings up to the merit field that is the Three Jewels,
and, with compassion, give generously to beings.

It is not through relying on high and low objects when gathering the accumulations,
but through pure, altruistic intention alone that purification will take place.
Bringing all types of desirous and conceptual thoughts to a halt,
and acting with carefulness—this is the meaning of the Vinaya.

These are the vows to be upheld by those who are fully ordained.
Household practitioners with long hair and white robes
should train in the lay vows right up to bodhicitta.
Bodhicitta is simply a virtuous frame of mind.

Even if an action may appear to be non-virtuous,
nevertheless, by definition, bodhicitta is for others’ benefit.
It’s like, for example, bloodletting by a doctor.4
You should benefit others without any expectations for yourself.

Secret Mantra is the core of the entire Dharma.
Here, one offers the three types of service5
to a qualified master, and receives the four empowerments.

The external, or vase empowerment empowers you to practice the generation stage.
The internal, or secret empowerment empowers you to train with the subtle channels and winds.
The supreme, or wisdom empowerment empowers you to train in great bliss.
The ultimate, or word empowerment is the Great Perfection itself.

Once you have received these four empowerments,
you should train in their intents, their true meanings.
Then, traversing the four stages of vidyādharas,6
directly or indirectly and so forth,
you shall seize the ultimate kingdom of the five kāyas.

These few points have been but a general explanation of Dharma practice, my dears.
If you can understand this, then you will naturally come to understand the general framework of the Dharma.

That said, please now make this the root and heart of your practice:
if one does not receive the gracious guru’s blessings,
it appears to be extremely difficult for realization ever to dawn in one’s mind.

Thus, practice guru yoga toward your father guru, time and again!
With complete surrender, let your words and intentions7 be in agreement!
Meditate on the guru as inseparable from your own mind.
This will allow for realization to naturally dawn.

| Lhasey Lotsawa Translations, 2021.


Source text
  • mChog gyur gling pa, “rJes ’jug skal bzang rnams la bstal pa’i zhal gdams bslab bya nyams len gyi skor spang blang mig ’byed zab don snying gi bdud rtsi.” In mChog gling bka’ ’bum skor. Vol. 36 of mChog gling bde chen zhig po gling pa yi zab gter yid bzhin nor bu’i mdzod chen po, 87-88. Kathmandu, Nepal: Ka-nying Shedrub Ling monastery, 2004.

  1. The Tibetan word tendrel (rten ’brel) can mean the auspicious connection of various causes and conditions, as in “auspicious omens” above, as well as the universal ebb and flow of the causes and conditions behind all phenomena, i.e. dependent origination. The reader should thus note the significance of the word tendrel appearing twice, here and in the line above, yet also understand the need for differing translations according to context. ↩︎

  2. The image here is of a beggar receiving small donations of barley flour from many different people. Some is of high quality while other portions are bound to be of low quality. ↩︎

  3. (Tib. ngan rdzas) We can imagine tobacco, alcohol, and the like. ↩︎

  4. That is to say, although a doctor may have to use a scalpel to inflict pain during a bloodletting or surgery, the doctor’s ultimate aim is to help the patient. ↩︎

  5. The three ways of pleasing the guru are, (1) to offer material goods (zang zing dbul ba), (2) to offer service with one’s body and speech (bkur sti rim gro byed pa), and (3) to apply and accomplish the guru’s instructions and commands (bka’ bzhin sgrub pa). ↩︎

  6. The four stages of vidyādharas are (1) the matured vidyādhara (rnam smin rig ’dzin), (2) the vidyādhara with power over life (tshe dbang rig ’dzin), (3) the mahāmudrā vidyādhara (phyag chen rig ’dzin), and (4) the spontaneously accomplished vidyādhara (lhun grub rig ’dzin). ↩︎

  7. Literally, “mouth and heart” (kha snying). ↩︎


Chokgyur Dechen Lingpa

Courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources



rten 'brel gyi snying po chos bshad

A Teaching on The Essence of Dependent Origination


Chokgyur Dechen Zhikpo Lingpa


Verses of advice on dependent origination by Chokgyur Lingpa.