The 4th lunar day of the 10th lunar month is the celebration of the founder of the A TRI dzogchen lineage, Me’u Gongdzö Ritro Chenpo Rinpoche. In 2020, this date coincides with November 18th on the Western calendar. Born into the Me’u family in 1038, he is often referred to simply as “Dampa” meaning “The Saint.” The A TRI teachings are one of the three primary lineages of the Great Perfection teachings within the Yungdrung Bön religious tradition. In addition to material he collected from other sources for the A TRI scripture, he also added his own gong ter, or mind treasure, to the collection. He organized the practices of the A Tri into 80 meditation sessions. Later in the 13th century, other lamas condensed the practice into 30 sessions, and then later it was further condensed into 15 sessions of practice as it is taught today.
When Gongdzö Ritropa was very young, his parents arranged for him to be married. Later as a youth, he had some realization of impermanence and yearned to leave worldly life. He asked his wife if they could separate so that he could practice the spiritual life but she refused. Feeling despondent, he made a plan. He burned some brush and mixed the ash with poison and yogurt. He rubbed this mixture onto his hands and arms. Soon afterwards his skin reacted in such a way that it looked as though he had contracted leprosy. He then went to his wife and family and showed them. He told them that he was afraid that he would spread the disease and he asked his wife if he had permission to go away. Alarmed, the wife and the rest of the family agreed. He rejoiced that he was now free to follow the spiritual path.
He received teachings from nine different teachers including the founder of Yungdrung Ling Monastery, Dru Yungdrung Lama. Deciding that he would be of greater benefit as a monk rather than a scholar, he requested ordination. At first, he was refused but upon the positive dream of the lama, he was given the vows of a monk. The lama advised him to live as a hermit and to be diligent in his meditation practice. Therefore, at the age of twenty-four, he became a monk and began a life of living as a reclusive yogi.
He exhibited many signs of accomplishment such as flying through the sky and leaving his hand and foot prints in stone. Although his primary focus was upon his meditation, he also wrote a number of texts. The A Tri lineage of dzogchen teachings was closely associated with the Dru family. From the founder of Menri Monastery Nyammé Sherap Gyaltsen Rinpoche until HIs Holiness 4th Menri Trizin Kunzang Gyaltsen Rinpoche, the A TRI lineage was passed down through the abbots of Menri Monastery. However, after Künzang Gyaltsen Rinpoche the lineage split away from the line of Menri Abbots.
All translations and content by Raven Cypress Wood ©All Rights Reserved. No content, in part or in whole, is allowed to be used without direct permission from the author.
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