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A Modern-day Tertön: Sang Ngak Lingpa

Painted sa tsa image of Sang Ngak Lingpa. Photo credit: Himalayan Art Resources.

Sang Ngak Lingpa, also known as Nyak Ter Sang Ngak Lingpa or Rikdzin Sang Ngak Lingpa, was born in 1865 CE in Nyak Shö Eastern Tibet. His father was Tsering Tashi and his mother was Pema Kyi. He became a great tertön, revealer of sacred hidden treasure, and was both a disciple and lama of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen. The Hagiography of the A Tri Lineage Lamas written by Shardza Rinpoche contains a brief overview of his life and accomplishments.

From a young age he had a pleasant and gentle demeanor, and could read and write at the age of four. He went on to have many lamas and worked together with his companion Khandro Dechen Wanggi Dronma, also known as Khandro Dechen Wangmo, who was also a renowned tertön and lama. (See previous post ) Both he and Khandro Wangmo were nonsectarian. Thus, they are associated with both the Yungdrung Bön and the New Bön religious traditions.

Tertön Lingpa met Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen at the latter’s hermitage, Dechen Ritro, and they had a profound influence upon one another’s life and works. Due to the advice and assistance of Sang Ngak Lingpa, Shardza Rinpoche created xylographic copies of his extensive compositions. Tertön Lingpa bestowed many teachings and empowerments upon Shardza Rinpoche, and also advised him regarding the finding and revealing of terma, or sacred hidden treasures. Many of the tertön’s revelations were made as a direct result of a personal request by Shardza Rinpoche to reveal a terma in order to benefit the multitude of suffering sentient beings.

Tertön Sang Ngak Lingpa

While staying in the meditation cave of Yudrang Chukmo, he had a spontaneous vision of the enlightened religious protector Sipé Gyalmo. In response to a fervent request by Khandro Dechen Wangmo regarding his vision, he composed a short exhortation for the sacred activity of Sipé Gyalmo.

“JO! Self-arising wisdom appears as Sipé Gyal, protector of the teachings within the boundaries of cyclic existence and nirvana.

To you, the principal deity, Single Mother, a goddess riding a black mule, and to your retinue; I present a vast expanse of pure clouds of offerings.

Having repaired and fulfilled my sacred commitments with you, thoroughly establish the accomplishment, without exception, of spontaneous, enlightened activity!

Liberate the antagonistic and malevolent enemies of the teachings!

Think of me like a mother for her child! Spread the teachings of the Yungdrung Bön!”

A brief list of Tertön Sang Ngak Lingpa’s textual terma includes:

  • Exoterical
    • A Rainfall of Nectar which is like an Ocean
    • Rites for the Lu
  • Esoterical
    • The Secret Mantra of Meri for Forceful Protection
    • Accomplishment of Takla for Subduing Phenomena
    • Peaceful and Wrathful Rites for the Lord of the Dead
    • Cycle of Practices for Red Mule Sipé Gyalmo
    • Cycle of Practices for Black Mule Sipé Gyalmo
    • Quintessential Instructions for Fixation and Agitation
    • General Collection of the Tantra of Sangwa Düpa
    • A Cycle of Longevity Practices
    • The Inner Essence of the Accomplishment of Longevity
    • Accomplishing Longevity for the Lama
  • Secret
    • Practices of the Great Completion for Accomplishing the Two Stages of the Three Bodies
    • Cycle of Instructions for the Chöd Practice of Tukjé Kündrol
    • Accomplishment of Mawé Sengé
  • Extraordinary
    • Hagiography of the Immortal and Great Tsewang Rikdzin
    • Hagiography of the Widely Known Drenpa Namkha

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