Lineage tree: A Pathway of transmission

Hi friends, what follows is some important information concerning the universal dharma lineage of teachers specific to our network and other significant teacher influences. Thanks for asking; sharing this outside the practice room is lovely.

Firstly, I think it’s important to understand that it is difficult to trace through an oral lineage tradition precisely the relationships that have carried the vehicle of the dharma to us today. This lineage article is based on stories shared with me from teacher to student during retreats and on travels to meet lineage holders. I have also investigated and researched links, though I am not a historian or academic. I do not know all the stories and connections that exist. I have heard them primarily through my teachers; they are in the context of their experiences and recollections, now woven through my own. I offer acknowledgement and respect to others who know the lineage connections and stories more intimately than I do. Hopefully, this article creates an opportunity to share and build understanding further in solidarity. For any inaccuracies and mistakes found here, I offer my sincere apologies. I will endeavour to understand as I grow and develop along the path.

Essential aspects of exploring lineage are the necessity to put aside misconceptions based on nation-state borders existing in the modern world, rigid views or fixed beliefs embedded within powerful institutions and organizations, and any sense of seeking ownership or claims to be the one true source of knowledge and wisdom. People have forever travelled across territories, met new peoples and cultural ways, shared knowledge and belief systems, and woven and integrated new understandings into their worldview, taking on and creating new variations of cultural practices and ceremonies, a natural evolution is always underway.

I want to share with you what I know about the cultural connections to the teachings received by Namgyal Rinpoche. They are based on a cross-cultural link between the Burmese Theravadin Mon. people connected through Mon. Mahathera Sayadaw U Thila Wonta, and the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism through 16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje from the Kham province of Eastern Tibet. A geographical and historical relationship is many centuries old between the Mon. and the Kham peoples.

The Mon. are said to hail from the upper reaches of the western Yangtze River (located today within the borders of modern-day China) and extending into the northeast provinces of current-day Burma and northern Thailand. The Mon., believed to be one of the earliest peoples of Mainland Southeast Asia, are considered descendants of this part of Indochina (which today borders Sichuan province and Bhutan). The Mon. modern-day region is now associated with southeastern Burma.

The Kham peoples are described as a mix of ethnic groups from various kingdoms, tribes, and chiefdoms traditionally covering areas including Eastern Tibet, Mongolia, China, Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, and other provinces. These regions, across many centuries, have been governed by various rulers and dynasties. I have been told (I am unaware of any written historical references that link the Mon. and Kham peoples) that the buddha-dharma connection between the Mon. and Kham is through students of Milarepa. Other sources say Buddhism was introduced to the Mon. through Ashoka, the Buddhist King/Ruler of the Maurya Empire of India, in the 3rd century BCE when he sent students into Southeast Asia.

Reflecting on the general histories of the movement of peoples over the past few millennia travelling vast areas, the cross-cultural nature of the dharma tradition is understandable. History is filled with stories of people going to great lengths to seek and discover teachings, wisdom and practices. Crossing and intersecting Eastern Europe with the Middle Eastern region, North Africa and India, crossing into Mongolia, Russia, China, and Japan, making their way into Southeast Asia and into the Malay Archipelago (Indonesian/Malay), and returning to study, sharing and spreading the buddha-dharma along the way. The Silk Road land and sea passages are central to this movement. Cross-cultural melds have often happened due to conquest and, at other times, through dialogues of peace and solidarity, likely both occurring concurrently. Given these histories, it is highly probable there were significant movements and interrelationships between the Mon. and Kham through the shared border regions, valleys and mountain ranges that connected their traditional areas.

The Namgyal Rinpoche lineage through which we have received the dharma here at Tig-Le House springboards into the West from these histories. This lineage tree is founded in a cross-cultural tradition brought into the West through Leslie George Dawson, an Irish-Scottish Canadian, born and raised in Toronto, Canada. Leslie Dawson met the Buddhadharma (1956) and received teaching and ordination as Ananda Bodhi (1958) under the guidance and instruction of Sayadaw U Thila Wunta Mahathera of the Mon. peoples from the Burmese Weizza/Wizard Theravadin forest tradition in the lineage of Bodaw Aung Min Gaung a Weizza of the Mon. peoples that dates back through the Hanthawaddy Kingdom into the 13th century.

The other source of Buddhadharma transmission carried through the Namgyal Rinpoche lineage derives from his introduction, recognition, and consecration received (1968) from 16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpa Dorje from the Karma Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. Namgyal Rinpoche was recognized and named by the 16th Karmapa to be a reincarnate Tulku (spiritual teacher), a great meditation master returned. Other sources of recognition and acknowledgment of Namgyal Rinpoche’s nirmanakaya emanation include H.H. Sakya Trizin lineage holder of the Sakya school, H.E. Chogye Trichen Rinpoche senior Lama and the head of the Tsar sub-school of the Sakya tradition, and Dudjom Rinpoche of the Nyingma sect.

The Dharma teachings of Tibet and the different schools of Tibetan Buddhism are deeply interconnected. When I was in Rumtek, Sikkim, visiting lineage friends of the Karma Chokor Dechen Ling nunnery, I was given a book by one of the young nuns, Ani Tsomo, which outlined the history of the Karmapa’s. The book extensively recounts histories and relationships of cross-sect and cross-cultural transmissions of the teachings, a vast shared network of teachers and students studying and training together. This reaffirmed for me the histories and stories I had heard previously about the cross-cultural approaches of the ancient dharma tradition continuing to this day.

Senior Tibetan Buddhist teachers gifted Namgyal Rinpoche and his senior students the dharma teachings. They were asked to explore, convey, understand and find suitable means of expression in the context of our culture, in appropriate and meaningful ways, as an expression of solidarity, health, Peace and Refuge. It is vitally important to understand that the teachings and practices shared with us through this lineage network have been handed over, carrying the blessings of friendships and care. We are not seeking to be Tibetan or Kham, Mon. or Burmese.

We are, however, dedicating ourselves to the practice to explore, understand, explicate and express the deep wisdom within the teachings. We are evolving means to enable and enact these wisdoms in a manner that is cognate with the true intent of the dharma, to cultivate lasting meaningful health and Peace and Refuge amongst peoples that supports all beings, all that live. We are taking on the responsibility to share this essence safely, openly and creatively in a respectful, integrated, sustainable and life-affirming manner for all that lives in the world, both now and for the future of life that is to come.

Below (on the next page) is a table of the lineage described in Wongkur ceremonies at Tig-Le House, followed by a lineage tree diagram with names and photos of the networks of influence. There are also some maps showing the geographical regions I have mentioned.

I hope you enjoy exploring the lineage and receiving the blessings of Refuge that this can bring.

Metta Ian Hackett – Tig-Le House

Lineage table as describe in Wongkur ceremony through Tig-Le House

Siddhartha GautamaShakyamuni the historical Buddha of our era, 5th & 6th century BCE.
5th century BCE to 2nd century CE.There is a large history in this period which I will cover in another article.
NagarjunaIndian Mahayana Buddhist Scholar and Philosopher, Nalanda University, India, 2nd & 3rd century CE.
TilopaBengali, tantric practitioner and Mahasiddha, 10th & 11th century CE.
NaropaKashmiri, Vice Chancellor of Nalanda University, student of Tilopa, origins of the Kagyu, 10th & 11th century CE.
Marpa LotsawaTibetan, Buddhist teacher, farmer, scholar, translator who brought the Kagyu lineage to Tibet, student of Naropa, 11th century CE.
Jetsun MilarepaTibetan Yogi, singing poet saint, student of Marpa, 11th & 12th century CE.
AtishaBengali, Buddhist leader and master, Kadam school, 10th & 11th century CE.
GampopaTibetan, Professor of Buddhist Philosophy, student of Milarepa, merged the Kagyu lineage and Kadam traditions, 11th & 12th century CE.
Line of the Karmapa’s Kagyu lineage 12th to 20th century CE1st Gyalwa Karmapa Dysum Khyenpa, 2nd Karmapa Karma Pakshi, 3rd Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, 4th Karmapa Rolpe’I Dorje, 5th Karmapa Deshin Shegpa, 6th Karmapa Tongwa Donden, 7th Karmapa Chodrag Gyamtso, 8th Karmapa Mikyo Dorje, 9th Karmapa Wangchuk Dorje, 10th Karmapa Choying Dorje, 11th Karmapa Yeshe Dorje, 12th Karmapa Changchub Dorje, 13th Karmapa Dudul Dorje, 14th Karmapa Thegchog Dorje, 15th Karmapa Khakyab Dorje.
Bo Bo AungBurmese, Weizza Tradition 18th Century CE.
Jamgon Kontrol RinpocheTibetan, Buddhist scholar, poet, artist, physician, polymath, founder of the Rimé movement (universalist / non-sectarian), 19th century CE, 1813 – 1899.
16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe DorjeKagyu lineage holder, Tibetan in Exile, Rumtek, Sikkim, 20th century CE, 1924 – 1981.
Bodaw Aung Min GaungBurmese, Weizza Tradition 20th century CE.
Sayadaw U Thila Wunta Mon. MahatheraBurmese, Weizza/Wizards’ tradition, Abbott of Dat Pon Zun Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar/Burma, 20th century CE. History of Ven Sayadaw U Thila Wunta
Leslie George Dawson 1931 – 2003.
– Ananda Bodhi
– Karma Tenzin Dorje Namgyal Rinpoche

Student of Sayadaw U Thila Wunta (1956). Ordained Ananda Bodhi (1958).
Student of 16th Karmapa. Ordained Karma Tenzin Dorje Namgyal Rinpoche (1968).
Lineage: Our Spiritual Roots
17th Karmapa Thaye DorjeOne of two lineage holders of the Karma Kagyu tradition, 1983 – current.

Land areas of significance connecting the Mon. and Kham peoples

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