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Rechung Lineage

The practice of the Rechung Lineage

Like his predecessors, Changling Rinpoche has started teaching the Rechung lineage practices to interested students.

These Rechungpa teachings are rare in the East and West.

Thus, each year, Changling Rinpoche teaches further sepcific practice from the Rechung lineage at  Rechung Gar, a practice retreat held at Shechen Changchub Ling,  Lotus Speech Canada’s home and retreat centre near  Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island, British Cloumbia.

The retreat center is located in a beautiful park like setting.  The shrine room, overlooking the property, is a serene and inspiring place to practice and visit, especially now with the addition of the Rechung Vajrayogini Sand Mandala made and consecrated by Chnagling Rinpoche in June 2009.

Read on for more…..

Brief History of the Rechung Lineage

There are two main Kagyu lineages: the Marpa and Shangpa Kagyu. In the Marpa Kagyu, there exist two lineages: the Dagpo Kagyu from Gampopa and the Rechung Kagyu from Rechungpa.

Rechungpa purposely took rebirth to collect the life stories and songs of Milarepa and restore the teachings of the formless dakinis.  As Marpa could only translate two of the eight chapters of the eight dharmas of these teachings, he told Milarepa that one of Milarepa’ disciples would gather these teachings.

Later, Milarepa said to his student Rechungpa that since he had a prophecy from his master that one of his students would go to India, he, Rechungpa, should go to India and get the rest of the formless dakini teachings.

Rechungpa went to India and met Tipupa who was none other than Marpa’s first son Dharma Dode who was intended to be the blood lineage holder of Marpa’s oral instructions.

Marpa gave his son Dharma Dode the exceptional and secret phowa empowerment and pith instructions to transfer consciousness into the recently expired body of an ordinary human being.

Dharma Dode was critically wounded in an horrific horse riding accident.  As Dharma Dode lay dying, Marpa gave him the pith instructions on the exceptional transference of consciousness.

No appropriate recently deceased human corpse could be found, so Dharma Dode transferred his consciousness into a newly deceased pigeon with the direct pith instructions from Marpa.  Marpa’s other students present saw many miraculous signs and all saw Dharma Dode in the form Hevajra.

Marpa sent the pigeon to India to a charnel ground where the recently deceased body of a 16-year-old boy was to be burned. Dharma Dode transferred his consciousness from the pigeon into the boy’s dead body and that boy appeared to come to life again. “Tipu” means pigeon. This phowa lineage was thus temporarily lost as the lineage could only be given once orally from guru to student and it had already been given the once to Dharma Dode.

Tipupa became a student of Naropa and Maitripa and received all of the formless dakini teachings from them.

When Rechungpa came to India, Naropa had already gone to Khechara, so Rechungpa received the rest of the formless dakini teachings from Tipupa, brought them back to Tibet and gave them to Milarepa. This formless dakini lineage is thus Naro, Tipupa, Rechungpa and Milarepa.

The Rechung Formless Dakini lineage and practice

The Rechungpa practice extends from the preliminary practices to mahamudra. The ultimate teachings of mahamudra are the formless dakini teaching.

Milarepa gave teachings to everyone equally, but his closest heart son was Rechungpa and so Milarepa wrote teachings in his own hand from the development to the completion stage for Rechungpa only. These teachings were thus transmitted not by singing, but by Milarepa composing them himself.

Because of this, we have Milarepa’s extremely direct explanation from Milarepa himself – an explanation not passed from master to student, but rather the exact view of Milarepa himself.

-condensed from a discourse by the present Changling Rinpoche

The Rechung Kagyu and Changling Tulkus

As said, the Rechung Kagyu is mainly based on the formless dakini teaching and the teaching Rechungpa received from Naropa.

Tsang Nyon Heruka was from Rechungpa’s lineage of students and is known as an emanation of Rechungpa. Tsang Nyon Heruka was the Kagyu master who collected Milarepa’s life story. Tsang Nyon Heruka’s second purpose was to restore the teachings of the formless dakini. This is a strict teaching lineage – the lineage holders do not give general public teachings, but teach only a few select students.

Tsang Nyon Heruka had many students, but his heart student was Gotsang Repa Natsok Rangdrol.

Gotsang Repa in turn had many students – of his two main students, one was Gothukpa Sangye Dorje. He is regarded as the incarnation of Tsang Nyon Heruka, and was the first Changling Rinpoche, who Tibetans from Tsang called ‘Lama Rechungpa’. This first Changling Rinpoche and the first Dalai Lama were contemporaries. Some subsequent Changling incarnations died at a very young age. There have been fifteen incarnations altogether.

The Changling tulkus are regarded as the lineage holders of the Rechung Kagyu. The eleventh and twelfth Changling Rinpoches engaged more in the Nyingma Northern Treasure practices and established the Northern Treasure tradition in Changling monastery.

The previous Changling Rinpoche wrote many commentaries on the Rechung Kagyu teachings – even the renowned Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo came to his monastery to receive the Rechung Kagyu lineage from him. The fourteenth Changling Rinpoche became more involved in the Nyingma and thus had two types of students: Kagyu and Nyingma. The fourteenth Changling incarnation died at around 50 years of age, and did not come to India.

When the fourteenth Changling Rinpoche passed away, there were two incarnations.  One is the present Changling Rinpoche at Shechen Monastery in Nepal, and the other is still in Tibet. There is still a Kagyu group and a Nyingma group of students: the current Changling Rinpoche was brought up by the Nyingma group.

In Tibet there were two main seats of the Rechungpa lineage. One was Rechung Phug and the other was Changling.  Changling is in the Shigatze district, between Shigatze and Sakya. Sakya Ngor monastery and Changling monastery are separated by one big mountain. The Kagyu practiced in this lineage is the Rechung Kagyu tradition.

-condensed from a discourse by the present Changling Rinpoche