Blue Annals Chapter 13

Tibetan Texts > Specific Tibetan Text Studies > Deb Ther Sngon Po (Blue Annals) > Chapter By Chapter Summary - The Blue Annals > Chapter 13

Summary of The Blue Annals Chapter 13: The Cutting (gcod) Traditions and the Tradition of Kharakpa

by K. Thornton

This section (save the introduction) is largely character based. So I approached it from that tack, extracting the key aspects from the story of each key character.

Formerly he used to fall ill, whenever he felt cold, or hot. There he pressed his stomach against a cold stone, drank ice-cold water, and slept naked. He gave up himself saying: “Illness (is) joy. Death (is) pleasure”. He practiced (the precepts of gcod) “and on the eleventh day a foul odor came out of his mouth. On the twelfth day, about midnight, he vomited out all his ailments. About midday he was completely cured. Within half a month he succeeded in completing the study.

13.1 Female Cutting (mo gcod kyi skabs. Chandra 870; Chengdu 1139; Roerich 980).

Labs sgron

Dam pa visits Tibet and four black birds flew around him. They transformed themselves into four dakinis: labs sgron of gye, ma jo byan chub of upper gnal, zan mo rgyal mthin of gtsan, and smyon ma (the ‘Mad One’) of lha sa. Gos lo tsa ba goes on to talk about each individual and does so with more sensitivity than any other treatments. Maternal and other traditionally feminine qualities are played up.

Jo mo byan chub of upper gnal

Zan mo rgyal mthin

Lha sa’i smyon ma (the ‘Mad One of Lhasa’)

Next are the great ‘Sons’ who received the precepts from labs sgron. They include the following. From upper yar: snags pa rgyal mstshan. From lower yar: an ston rin chen bar. From middle yar: dre na jo sras and sud bu lo tsa ba. And many others (several more are listed in the text).

Labs sgron’s son, grub che

Tshe dban had three sons: rgyal ba ston gzuns lived in ri mo mdo, thod smyon bsam grub lived in sam po gans, and skye med ‘od gsal lived at a ‘o mdo in upper gnal.

Thod smyon bsam grub

Gans pa dmu yan

Sangs rgyas bson bsruns

gans khrod ras pa

There are several members of the lineage mentioned briefly here before dwelling on ma gcig’s disciple khu sgom chos sen.

khu sgom chos sen

dol pa zan thal

From here, there are several more members of the lineage, but they largely focus on the same things. From here, practitioners become more confident and several purposely contract illnesses in order to practice the gcod rite. They help others, but mostly live as hermits when they are not touring localities that are infested with illnesses.

13.2 Male cutting (pho gcod kyi skabs. Chandra 883; Chengdu 1158; Roerich 996).

He had visited India and not discovered the doctrine he was looking for. He then encountered an a tsa ra. The Indian ascetic broke the staff of his companion (a kalyana mitra named dnos grub), saying that – while he knew how to use it – it was useless. Sma ra ser po was intrigued and asked the ascetic’s companion who he was. The companion told him that it was dam pa and he proceeded to ask for instruction in the doctrine. Dam pa imparted the precepts on dnos grub, who was convinced and accepted dam pa as his guru. Dam pa said to sma ra ser po “a doctrine desired by you, is coming to you in the future.’

Dam pa took up residence in a hospice. While there, a man named skyo skya ye ses came to ask dam pa to heal his two sons whose brothers had been destroyed by demons. Dam pa imparted the gcod precepts on skyo, his disciples and sma ra ser po. The boys practiced the precepts, skyo practiced them only on himself, and sma ra ser po wrote them down, put didn’t preach them to others until his old age. Then he bestowed them on his attendant smyon pa be re. When he taught them, he told them not to bestow them on any others.

Clearly there is a very secretive aspect to the phod gcod. The nest transmission takes place when lce ston fell ill and he sought the gcod doctrine. He and phug ston sought them out. While they got three sections, the teacher did not give them all.

When rog ses rab ‘od asked for all the precepts, he initially declined, saying, “I didn’t disclose more than three to sa ston rdoy ‘dzin at phu than. If I were to preach to you the complete precepts, he might become displease.” He explains by saying that imparting the doctrine to monastics leaves them open to being copied by other men they live with. However he was convinced and imparted the entirety of the doctrine saying he did so because he would be of benefit to living beings. However, he demanded that he not write down the oral precepts.

These precepts were then handed down to a line of sons, daughters, and disciples. Throughout, there was a premium on keeping a secretive nature and not passing all of the precepts until the possessor was in old age or there was a dire need for the rite.

13.3 Kharakpa (kha rag pa’i skabs. Chandra 886; Chengdu 1162; Roerich 999).

Opens by saying that Tibetans possess a crown ornament and two ear ornaments: the crown ornament being padmasambhava, the first ear ornament is kha ra sgom chun, and the second ear ornament is the venerable mid la.

A ro ye ses ‘byun gnas had been seen by a royal nun who took him in as a child. He later walked into a room where monks were praying and recited prayers and doctrines, but also told the monks that he knew many doctrines they didn’t know. The monks deemed him the origin of knowledge and listened as he imparted wisdom and doctrine.

He had a long disciple lineage that believed in the potency of the rite (one said, “If I were to preach the doctrine into the ear of a corpse, the corpse would move.”) Gru gu klog ‘byon taught the doctrine to rba sgom bsod names rgyal mtshan. When the latter met atisa, he offered him his understanding of the doctrine.

Atisa suggested the practice should be tempered by love and mercy. He was disappointedwhen he read several Tibetan writings, but then he read the Mahayana-yoga of a ro and was pleased. This lineage is much higher profile with the invocation of much more high profile names (atisa also cites the aid of maitreya and avalokitesvara).

There was a particular affinity for hermits in this tradition, but a clear feeling that the teachers and disciples were more venerable than the hermits. However, some of this pomp took its toll on the lineage. Many realized this and saw the potential of some un-ordained practitioners. The lineage was spread widely by people in positions of power and fame enough to move the rite fast and far.

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