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You are here : Home > Books > General > Biography
Togden Shakya Shri
The Life and Liberation of a Tibetan Yogin


Extract :
From - Chapter V

His Life Dedicated to Practice, He Receives Blessings and Siddhis, Such as Visions of Masters and Deities and the Discovery of Profound Termas

SOME OF SHAKYA SHRI's visions of deities and masters, and various other experiences have already been recounted. At times these signs, indicating that he had reached an optimal level in a particular practice, heralded peculiar challenging experiences. For example, when in retreat in one of the Chugoshog caves of Drugu, he experienced the cave turning upside down, with the floor on top and the ceiling at the bottom and all the grit and rubble falling down on him, Another time, the mouth of the cave closed and for a long time he stayed in total darkness. Nonetheless, Shakya Shri remained absorbed in a state of contemplation beyond hope and fear, further enhancing his state of realization; after a few days the dimensions and shape of the cave returned to normal.

When Shakya Shri spent three years in retreat at the hermitage of Lhadrag Pema Yangdzong practicing The Mind Essence of Samantabhadra, as an outer sign of his accomplishments the offering of medicine and blood began to boil, and as an inner sign, an extraordinary knowledge was born in his mind.

Around that time, when an official called Wangden went to pay him a visit, Shakya Shri emanated in the form of a tiger at the entrance of the cave. Seeing the tiger, the man was terrified. He dropped the curd, grains and other food he was carrying as offerings for the Master and fled to a safe distance. He looked back, but he could no longer see the tiger. With some trepidation he returned to the cave and saw Shakya Shri at rest there, smiling, "Why are you afraid of such a small thing? I came to greet you. But make sure not to tell anyone else what happened." When Shakya Shri was practicing alone in the wilderness, a snow leopard visited him several times. Like a pet dog, it would wander around nearby and then lie down next to him. Then in the morning it would return to the mountains.

Going from his hermitage of Solder on pilgrimage to the mountain of Khawa Karpo, he saw appear a beautiful white vulture that was the manifestation of a dakini. The vulture walked alongside Shakya Shri through three mountain passes. Then at Doke pass the people accompanying him felt the earth tremble, and saw rainbows forming and snow falling profusely in the shape of beautiful four-petalled flowers of different colors: white, yellow, red and blue, Those with pure karma saw the Master appear in the sky in the midst of the rainbows. After crossing the pass, while travelling along the road on the same pilgrimage, all those present could see a circular rainbow light with three rings directly above Shakya Shri's head.

Over the entire time they were travelling, at each place they witnessed amazing signs such as these rainbow formations and a circular rainbow resembling a canopy or parasol above Shakya Shri. As they were coming up from Tagra in the region of Trayab, a voice resounded in the sky, "The reincarnation of Trayab Kyabgon Rinpoche has been born near this river:' Shakya Shri remarked to Gyurme and some other disciples, "It seems that the reincarnation of this master has taken birth:' The prophetic words turned out to be true and the reincarnation of the lama was found in that area.

On another occasion, Shakya Shri went to pay a visit to Phagchen Rinpoche of Chamdo who was returning from Lhasa. On the way back to his hermitage Shakya Shri and his attendants had to spend the night at Dibon monastery. That night he suddenly fell ill with symptoms of high blood pressure. Caught by surprise, his attendants were at a loss as to what to do. However, by the next day, the symptoms had disappeared and he was feeling normal again. He told his attendant Tsondru Gyurme, "Last night five types of gyalpo present here were derisive, and caused me some problems. Nonetheless, because of my understanding of emptiness, they could not really create any obstacles. I overpowered them with my contemplation and bound them under oath."

Sometime before, when Phagpa Rinpoche of Chamdo, Dahen Kalzang and others were building a splendid new temple for the purpose of housing a Maitreya statue, the building collapsed three or four times. Gyatrul Rinpoche had a vision in which he saw a length of coarse felt of black yak hair blowing in the wind on top of Dilsum mountain while the temple collapsed.

Gyatrul Rinpoche said, "It is the magical display of some perverse demon. The situation can only be solved by inviting a realized and powerful master."The important Dahen sent a monk to invite Shakya Shri. That monk thought, "If Phagchen Rinpoche and his spiritual heirs aren't able to subjugate the interfering demon, then how can that lazy old fellow do it?" When he arrived in the presence of Shakya Shri, the Master, having read the monk's mind said, "Oh, if the Protector (that is, Phagchen Rinpoche) and his heirs can't do anything in this situation, what can a lazy old fellow like me do?" His hidden thought exposed, the monk realized Shakya Shri's power, and developed boundless faith in him. He then invited the Master properly, and Shakva Shri came to Chamdo. Merely by performing the fierce concentration of issuing commands and expelling interferences, he overcame the obstacles that had prevented the temple construction, and the signs of disturbance immediately subsided.

The following year, when the huge statue of Maitreya was being built, parts of the statue completed during the day would collapse at night. Some of the sculptors also died. When the construction of the statue had almost been renounced, Shakya Shri was invited, as before, to resolve the impasse. For seven days the Master practiced the rite of hurling the tormas, united with the practice of dark blue Guru Tragpo. Then he performed the ritual of consecrating the statue in connection with various deities. All obstacles ceased and the erecting of the statue could be completed, to the satisfaction and delight of the lamas and overseers.

In the same miraculous way, a source of water sprang up at the hermitage of Solder. No matter how much they drew, the water was sufficient for all the local people. At times its color became as white as milk. This marvelous spring is still there today.

Later on Shakya Shri stayed in retreat, engaging in the practice of Kilaya Yangsang Putri. He had a vision of the glorious Vajrakilaya who conferred upon him the ability to perform magical feats of power and strength. Thus he was victorious over all demonic forces and interferences. Shakya Shri exhibited such powers when the forest at the base of the mountain facing his retreat place caught fire, He extended his hand in the threatening mudra and instantly the fire went out. On another occasion a magical display of demonic forces provoked a violent storm that was extremely unusual for the season, causing a huge landslide. He took the phurba attached to the belt around his waist and gestured with it, causing the storm to subside and the landslide to reverse its course.

Shakya Shri convinced many hunters such as Khang Mardopa of Trayab and others to vow to abstain from killing. Each hunter gave his knife to Shakya Shri and begged him to knot the weapon thus transforming it into an object that inspires faith. Shakya Shri blew on the weapons and enjoined some of his disciples, "Knot them!" In accordance with the hunters' wishes, the knives became knotted. Later in the day a hunter came with his knife wishing to ask Shakya Shri to knot it. The Master had already entered his daily session of formal practice, and thus one of his disciples called Shingkyong, who did not want to interrupt him, knotted the knife himself. This actually happened.

At a certain point, Shakya Shri wrote several letters to Töndrub, the overseer of Aghe monastery inTrayab, warning him that he would be facing serious trouble. Soon after, Töndrub was cast into a Chinese-Tibetan prison, in danger of execution. An unshakable faith in Shakya Shri arose in him and he made an earnest plea for help to Shakya Shri. Following that, he was released from prison. Töndrub became a disciple of the Master and his mind attained full liberation through his practice of the teachings. At his death, many bone relics were found after his cremation. The Gelug master Changmon and others greatly praised Töndrub for his outstanding realization.

At the age of thirty-seven Shakya Shri travelled to Lhasa. There he camped on the shore of Artsa lake. One day as he sat in contemplation he said, "A perverse and malevolent local guardian is planning to strike us from above with lightning". The Master performed the serkyern and when he rotated between his palms the phurba which he carried on his belt, pointing it toward the sky, the signs indicating imminent danger subsided. Then the Master bound the local guardian under oath.

When Shakya Shri visited Ganden monastery, he prayed in front of the statue of LobzangTragpa (blo bzanggragspa, JeTsongkhapa), the monastery's founder. Signs of his realization were exhibited to those present when the white scarf, signifjiing respect, thrown by him towards the statue remained suspended in space for some time before reaching it.

Shakya Shri then travelled to Samyeling. The guardian Gyalpo Pehar was there with his entourage. Wishing to assess the level of Shakya Shri's realization, the guardian repeatedly opened the bolt that closed the door to the room where the Master was staying, and attempted to compete with him by manifesting various magical displays. Shakya Shri remained unperturbed and brought Pehar and his entourage under control through the force of his contemplation...



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