The Nyingma Tradition And Palyul Nam Chö Lineage

With Many Thanks to Palyul Canada 

Padmasambhava - Guru Rinpoche


The Nyingma (ancient) school of Tibetan or Vajrayana Buddhism was founded in the eighth century by the great enlightened Indian tantric master Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), “the second Buddha”. Nyingma is the oldest of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism (Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelugpa). Its teachings, transmissions and lineage of enlightened masters have continued unbroken to this day.

At the heart of the Nyingma tradition is the practice of Dzog Chen, the most ancient and direct stream of wisdom within the teachings of Buddhism. Mipham Rinpoche (1846-1912), one of Tibet’s greatest scholars and masters, wrote: Crowning the banner of the complete teaching of the Buddha, is the beautiful ornament of the clear light teachings of Dzogpa Chenpo.

Through practicing and realizing these teachings, tens of thousands of beings have become enlightened. Although the Nyingmapa school is the oldest tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, its Dzog Chen teachings are the clearest, most effective and relevant to the needs of beings today. Untouched by the sometimes tragic events in Tibetan history, the Dzog Chen teachings have been passed down in an unbroken line from the Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra, teacher to student, to this day, in all their freshness, immediacy, and power.

“Dzog Chen is a state, the primordial state, the state of total awakening that is the heart essence of all the Buddhas and all spiritual paths, the summit of an individual beings spiritual evolution.”

Dzog Chen can only be understood and fully realized with the direct guidance of a qualified and experienced Dzog Chen master. His Holiness Penor Rinpoche is such a being, an emanation of the great Dzog Chen master Vimalamitra.

The Palyul Nam Chö Lineage


Mingyur Dorje

In Tibet, there were six mother monasteries which upheld the Nyingma tradition. In eastern Tibet, the foremost of these was the glorious Palyul. The land the monastery is situated on was blessed by many great saints and bodhisattvas and it was during the time of the great vidyadhara Kuzang Sherab that the Palyul tradition was established and the monastery known as Palyul Namgyal Changchub Choling became one of the major Nyingma monastic institutions.

As with all Nyingma Dharma lineages, the Palyul holds the complete canon of the Mahayana sutras and tantras as well as the Kama (long), Terma (short) and Pure Vision transmissions. However, the Palyul lineage is distinct in that it continues to practice, realize and transmit all the various lineages and dzogchen transmissions that were held and passed on by Kunzang Sherab into one vast Dharma Ocean.

The Kama or long lineage is the combined oral tradition of Panchen Vimalamitra, the translator Vairocana and master Padmasambhava on the inner yogas of Generation Stage Maha Yoga, Transmission stage Anu Yoga and the Great Perfection stage Ati Yoga. The Palyul also holds the Non-Dual Great Seal Mahamudra – Great Perfection Ati Yoga, uniting the highest Nyingma teachings of Dzog Chen with the ornament of the Kagyu school, the Mahamudra of Marpa the translator, forefather of the Kagyu. 

From Kunzang Sherab to the present throne holder, His Holiness Penor Rinpoche, as well as the greater Palyul sangha, this has been maintained as a principal practice which includes: clear light togyal, inner togyal, darkness practice, dream practice, training in the nature of sound and pure realms practice. The terma or short lineage refers to spiritual treasures (terma) that were concealed by Padmasambava and his close disciples to be revealed at a later, more appropriate time. These termas were hidden in both physical elements and within beings mind streams, to be remembered and revealed in later incarnations. As such, the lineage for these termas is considered “short” historically, as opposed to the long lineages originating with Sakyamuni Buddha. The principal terma lineages of the Palyul are those of Terton Nyang, Guru Chowang, Ratna Lingpa, Jigme Lingpa, Karma Lingpa and Mingyur Dorje.

The Profound Lineage of Pure Vision originates with Terton Mingyur Dorje’s Nam Chö Great Perfection revelations, transmitted directly from Kunzang Sherab.

For further reading regarding the Palyul Nam Chö lineage, please see: A  Garland of Immortal Wish Fulfilling Trees: The Palyul Tradition of Nyingmapa by Venerable Tsering Lama Jampal Zangpo and Sangye Khandro, Snow Lion Publications, 1988.

His Holiness Pema Norbu Rinpoche


His Holiness Penor Rinpoche

His Holiness the Third Drupwang Pema Norbu (Penor) Rinpoche [1932-2009] was the 11th Head of the Palyul Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, and one of the foremost masters in the Buddhist Tradition of Tibet. He was the embodiment of the profound wisdom and limitless compassion which are the hallmarks of this tradition. Throughout the Buddhist community he was respected for his vast knowledge and accomplishment, and for the integrity and strength with which he upheld the Buddha’s teachings.

Born in eastern Tibet in 1932, Penor Rinpoche was recognized as a young child as the incarnation of Vimalamitra and was installed in the Palyul monastery as its eleventh throne holder. From a very early age he displayed many miraculous signs and abilities.

His Holiness fled Tibet in 1956 and established Palyul Namdroling Monastery in southern India to preserve the Nyingma tradition. From its small beginning with a handful of monks, the monastery has grown to become the largest Nyingma monastery in the world, with over 1,500 monks and nuns and many incarnate Lamas. The monastery also contains a large scholastic college and three year retreat centre.

His Holiness was a pure holder of many ancient and important teachings and works tirelessly to preserve and spread these unbroken lineages of Dharma treasures, giving empowerments, teachings and transmissions all over the world. His Holiness was also responsible for the recognition and training of reincarnate lamas (tulkus).

“His Holiness Penor Rinpoche is one of the great Buddhist saints alive today. He is a great realized being, and seeing him is like being face to face with the Buddha and Padmasambhava.”    -Vajracharya Ven. Peling Tulku Rinpoche

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