A contemporary gö kar chang lo terma

Antonio Terrone recently completed a most interesting PhD thesis on the current status of the gö kar chang lo’i dé (gos dkar lcang lo’i sde—ngakpas) in Kham and Golok (eastern parts of the culturally-Tibetan region).

Aspects of particular interest are the revelation of new termas that establish the authenticity of the gos dkar lcang lo tradition, and the political relationship of yogic Nyingma with the Chinese authority.

An abstract of the thesis is available online. I haven’t obtained a copy of the full work (titled Bya rog prog zhu: The Raven Crest. The Life and Teachings of Bde chen 'od gsal rdo rje Treasure Revealer of Contemporary Tibet). I hope the author will make a book version available soon.

The Dark Age and Buddhism’s future

Tibet’s “Dark Age,” more than a thousand years ago, may be acutely relevant to the future of Buddhism. History suggests an answer to the question “can Buddhism be successful when monks are scarce or absent?”

Some prominent Western Buddhists argue that the reason Buddhism in the West is “not working” (in their opinion) is that we do not have strong monastic institutions. They suggest that Buddhism has never succeeded anywhere without monks as the core of the religion.

That is almost true—but the Tibetan Dark Age may be a revealing exception.

The Life of Yol mo bsTan 'Dzin Nor Bu: Research into the Ngakpa Tradition and its View and Symbolic Presentation

Yol mo bsTan 'Dzin Nor Bu was a Tantirka (ngakpa) in the early 17th century in Tibet.  Recognized as the third Yol mo tulku, he was closely associate with the Chang (byang) Ter lineage, one of the six main lineages in the Nyingma School.  Benjamin Bogin's 2005 PhD thesis at the University of Michigan includes research, analysis and translation of his nam thar and other writings, and explores important issues surrounding the 'monk/nun vs. ngakpa/ngakma'  question within Tibetan culture. 

Anthropology of Repkong Ngakmas

Tiina Hyytiainen, of the University of Helsinki, recently conducted anthropological field work on the ngakmas of Repkong, in Amdo.

Repkong has one of the strongest extant ngakpa traditions. (Some may know it as the former home of Lama Tharchin Rinpoche, one of the best-known ngakpa lamas in the West; he now lives in California.  This page has history of the Repkong ngakpa tradition.)

About Ngakpa Update

Ngakpa Update presents notes and news on the non-monastic ordained Tantric sangha: the gos dKar lCang lo’i sDe, or “white-skirt long-hair category” in Tibetan.

We post brief summaries of current academic research on the history of the tradition, and on its current manifestations in the Himalayas and elsewhere. We include pointers to events and resources of interest to non-monastic Tantrikas. Occasionally, we also post essays analyzing the state of current understanding, and drawing out its implications.