Hi friends, I’ve been asked to share some information about lineage specific to our network, many thanks for asking it’ll be lovely to share this outside of the classroom.
Firstly, I think it’s important to understand that it is very hard to trace through an oral lineage tradition exactly 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 retreat and on travels to meet holders of the lineage. I have also investigated and researched links, though I am certainly not an historian or academic. I do not know all the stories and connections that exist, and I have heard them mostly through my teachers and therefore they are in the context of their experiences and recollections, now woven through my own. To others who know the lineage connections and stories more intimately than myself I offer my acknowledgement and respect and 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 endeavor to understand increasingly as I grow and develop along the path.
Important 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 traveled across territories, meet new peoples and cultural ways, shared knowledge and belief systems, 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 would like to share with you what I know in relationship to the cultural connections to the teachings received by Namgyal Rinpoche. They are based on a cross-cultural link between the Burmese Theravadin Mon. people 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. There is a geographical and historical relationship that 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 thought to be descendant of this part of Indochina (which today boarders Sichuan province and Bhutan). The Mon. modern-day region is now associated with southeastern Burma.
The Kham peoples are said to be a mix of ethnic groups from a variety of 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 buddhadharma 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, wisdoms 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 studying, sharing and spreading the buddhadharma along the way. The Silk Road land and sea passages are central to this movement. Cross-cultural melds have happened many times, often 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 was significant movements and interrelationships between the Mon. and Kham through the common 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 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 within 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 nun’s, Ani Tsomo, which outlined the history of the Karmapa’s. The book recounts extensively 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.
Namgyal Rinpoche and his senior students where gifted the dharma teachings by senior Tibetan Buddhist teachers, and it was asked of them that they explore, convey understood and find suitable means of expression in the context of our culture, in appropriate and meaningful ways, as an expression of solidarity, of health and Peace and Refuge. It is vitally important to understand that the teachings and practices that have been 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 wisdoms 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 lives. We are taking on 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 as described in Wongkur ceremony 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 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 Gautama||Shakyamuni 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.|
|Nagarjuna||Indian Mahayana Buddhist Scholar and Philosopher, Nalanda University, India, 2nd & 3rd century CE.|
|Tilopa||Bengali, tantric practitioner and Mahasiddha, 10th & 11th century CE.|
|Naropa||Kashmiri, Vice Chancellor of Nalanda University, student of Tilopa, origins of the Kagyu, 10th & 11th century CE.|
|Marpa Lotsawa||Tibetan, Buddhist teacher, farmer, scholar, translator who brought the Kagyu lineage to Tibet, student of Naropa, 11th century CE.|
|Jetsun Milarepa||Tibetan Yogi, singing poet saint, student of Marpa, 11th & 12th century CE.|
|Atisha||Bengali, Buddhist leader and master, Kadam school, 10th & 11th century CE.|
|Gampopa||Tibetan, 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 CE||1st 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 Aung||Burmese, Weizza Tradition 18th Century CE.|
|Jamgon Kontrol Rinpoche||Tibetan, Buddhist scholar, poet, artist, physician, polymath, founder of the Rimé movement (universalist / non-sectarian), 19th century CE, 1813 – 1899.|
|16th Gyalwa Karmapa Rangjung Rigpe Dorje||Kagyu lineage holder, Tibetan in Exile, Rumtek, Sikkim, 20th century CE, 1924 – 1981.|
|Bodaw Aung Min Gaung||Burmese, Weizza Tradition 20th century CE.|
|Sayadaw U Thila Wunta Mon. Mahathera||Burmese, 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 Dorje||One of two lineage holders of the Karma Kagyu tradition, 1983 – current.|