The following is an excerpt from a teaching by Choggi Rinpoche that is quite poignant for the spiritual seeker of today.
It is especially profound for the Tibetan Buddhist aspirant that understands that life is impermanent. Rinpoche tells the story of how His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche came to write his last prayer.
This prayer was the last prayer written by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche who was my teacher. According to Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness is believed to be the manifestation of Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava was born eight years after the parinirvana, the death, of Buddha Shakyamuni. As prophesized, Padmasambhava was called the second Buddha, and was the founder of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet. In every prophecy, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche is described as the manifestation of Padmasambhava himself.
This teaching is not a simple teaching. It was a vision. This is the story about how this teaching appeared.
His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche’s wife had a special Dakini, a wisdom goddess, who would visit her in her dreams from time to time. This Dakini would predict many things to her. One day this wisdom Dakini appeared in her dream and asked her to please ask His Holiness for a prayer, which would be extremely beneficial for future human beings.
The next day His Holiness’ wife made the request. She said, “I had a dream. Please write a prayer for beings.” And His Holiness said, “I have written so many prayers. There is no lack of prayers for people to read. It’s just that they don’t read. That’s the thing. There is no end to what I have written.”
And his wife thought maybe that was right, because in his last life, he wrote 23 texts of different practices. These texts were not just composed. They were wisdom manifestation teachings called terma.
During the time of the eighth century in Tibet, Padmasambhava realized that in the future the teachings would be disrupted. There would be negative forces – those who would try to change the essence of the teachings. So Padmasambhava and his Dakini Yeshe Tsogyal concealed those teachings. They concealed the teachings in the ground, in space, in the water, and predicted exactly at what particular time they would be revealed in the future and the name of the particular Terton that would reveal each teaching or practice. And that is exactly what has happened to this day. These terma revelations are so fresh, and therefore the whole teaching is preserved as it is.
The Terton, or treasure revealer, is like one who has been directly initiated by Padmasambhava himself. All the protectors who were keeping that wisdom took a vow with Padmasambhava that the terma would be given only to the right person, to the Chosen One of Padmasambhava. The whole teaching might be 300 pages, but the 300 pages are written in one line. It is secret and kept hidden in Dakini letters, which is itself hidden. No one can read that text except for the Terton initiated by Padmasambhava. Only he can read it. When discovered, there is only one line and through that a spontaneous text comes out. Terma is self-hidden wisdom. It is so important that we are able to have that. I feel very fortunate. We believe that His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche is the manifestation of Padmasambhava.
Then His Holiness’ wife had another dream. Twice the same Dakini appeared in her dream and this time she said, “I asked you before. It is very important that you request a prayer and you did not. Now please, ask him. Don’t neglect that. It is very important. There is big meaning within the prayer.”
So again she asked His Holiness. And then again His Holiness said the same thing. “No, I have written so many prayers. People just don’t do. From my side there is nothing lacking.”
And then she requested a third time. That morning His Holiness was in his Paris apartment in France. In the early morning hours, he was in his sitting room, and suddenly he had a vision of Padmasambhava. The whole room started to glow, and became big. A person wearing a white cloth and a symbol came dancing. And then Padmasambhava himself spoke. He said:
“Establish the dharma. Plant it in your heart. In the depth of your heart, you will attain Buddhahood. Enter the Buddha land. Purify confusion. Happily the Pure land is nearby. Generate diligence in the essence practice. Without practice, who can get results? Looking at all of one’s faults is difficult. Laying down one’s own fault is the essential point. One day all defects will slowly purify themselves. And good qualities gradually flourish.”
That was the teaching. And then right at that moment, His Holiness wrote this whole teaching.
The life of a Terton is extremely interesting, because all communication is on an extremely subtle level. For gross consciousness it is very hard to understand. His Holiness immediately picked up a table and told the attendants to fill it with milk, and then he asked his wife and son Shenphen Rinpoche to come.
It was very early and Shenphen Rinpoche thought, “What’s happened? Is His Holiness’ health ok?” He came rushing down. And His Holiness said, “Just sit down. And drink this milk.” Now this is how delicate a Terton’s life is. If Shenphen Rinpoche did not drink the milk at that point, what would become of the teaching? Sometimes they say that one person represents all human beings when in front of a very powerful being. So Shenphen Rinpoche drank it all. And that showed that the blessing would be attained by all beings. He drank all the milk. And His Holiness said, “Good.” This is how Tertons are.
Sometimes when one is next to a Terton, the Terton will tell you to get him something. He or she may tell you in the middle of nowhere, “Get me something” which you can never get. But the Terton never has the idea that it is not possible to get it, so the only thing you have to do is pick up anything and just give it to him because for the Terton habit is totally dissolved. There is no such thing. And when you just present that, it manifests in that state.
So when His Holiness said, “Drink the milk,” his son drank all the milk. And His Holiness said, ‘Very good. Just now I had this vision of Padmasambhava.” And then he wrote this prayer. This is the last prayer of His Holiness. And there is a tremendous blessing in this prayer.
Click here to download: The Last Prayer