Nyingma tantras – Beyond the methods of Highest Yoga
The doxography employed by the Nyingma tradition to categorize the whole of the Buddhist path is unique.
Table of Contents
- 1 - Nyingmapas’s division of Buddhist paths
- 2 - The core scriptures of the teachings
- 3 - The view of Dzogchen
- 4 - List of tantras in Nyingma teachings
- 4.1 - Mahayoga
- 4.2 - Longchen Nyingthig
- 4.3 - Zhitro
- 4.4 - Guhyagarbha tantra
- 4.5 - Maṇi Kambum
- 4.6 - Nyingma Gyubum
- 4.7 - Self-existing Perfection
- 4.8 - Vima Nyingtik
- 4.9 - Union of the Sun and Moon
- 4.10 - The Mirror of the Mind of Samantabhadra
- 4.11 - The Mirror of the Heart of Vajrasattva
- 4.12 - Sixfold Expanse of Samantabhadra
- 4.13 - Shining Relics of Enlightened Body
- 4.14 - Seventeen tantras
- 4.15 - Array of Jewels
- 4.16 - Self-arising Primordial Awareness
- 4.17 - Reverberation of Sound Tantra
- 4.18 - Blazing Lamp
- 4.19 - Necklace of Precious Pearls
- 4.20 - Lion’s Perfect Expressive Power
- 4.21 - Kulayarāja Tantra
- 4.22 - Great Auspicious Beauty Tantra
- 4.23 - Direct Introduction (tantra)
- 4.24 - Piled Gems
Nyingmapas’s division of Buddhist paths
Nyingmapas divide the Buddhist path into 3 sutra systems, 3 outer tantras and 3 inner tantras.
- Carya or Ubhaya
- Atiyoga (Dzogchen)
In the later schools the inner tantric teachings are known as Anuttarayoga Tantra, which corresponds to Mahayoga in the Nyingma system, while the Mahamudra teachings of the later schools are said to lead to similar results as the Dzogchen teachings.
The core scriptures of the teachings
The Seventeen tantras of the Ancients are an important collection of tantras in the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.
They comprise the core scriptures of the “esoteric instruction series” (Menngagde) of Dzogchen teachings and are its most authoritative scriptures.
The Seventeen Tantras are part of the Vima Nyingthig (“Inner Essence of Vimalamitra”).
The Vima Nyingthig itself consists of ‘tantras’, ‘agamas’, and ‘upadeshas’.
The main Dzogchen sources (like the Seventeen tantras) are seen as communicating a path that goes beyond the methods of Highest Yoga Tantra.
The view of Dzogchen
The Seventeen Tantras explain the view of Dzogchen, the two main forms of Dzogchen meditation (sgom pa) – kadag trekchö (“the cutting through of primordial purity”), and lhündrub tögal (“the direct crossing of spontaneous presence”) – and the conduct (spyod pa) of a Dzogchen practitioner, along with other ancillary topics.
In this short video Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche explains in simple word what is the view of Dzogchen:
List of tantras in Nyingma teachings
This is a non-exhaustive list of tantras transmitted by Nyingma teachers to Tibetan Buddhism practitioners.
Mahāyoga is the designation of the first of the three Inner Tantras according to the ninefold division of practice used by the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism.
Longchen Nyingthig is a terma, revealed scripture, of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, which gives a systematic explanation of Dzogchen. It was revealed by Jigme Lingpa (1730-1798).
In Tibetan Buddhism and Bön, Zhitro is the name referring to a cycle or mandala of 100 peaceful (zhi) and wrathful (khro) tantric deities and of a genre of scriptures and associated tantric practices which focus on those deities which represent the purified elements of the body and mind. These hundred peaceful and wrathful deities are believed to manifest to a deceased person following the dissolution of the body and consciousness in the intermediate state, or bardo, between death and rebirth. The best-known, though by no means only, example of this genre of texts and practices is commonly known as the Kar-ling Zhitro cycle after Karma Lingpa, the tertön who (re)discovered or revealed this collection of texts. The text which is well known in the west as “Tibetan Book of the Dead” forms one section of Karma Lingpa’s Zhitro cycle.
The Guhyagarbha Tantra is the main tantra of the Mahayoga class and the primary Tantric text studied in the Nyingma tradition as a key to understanding empowerment, samaya, mantras, mandalas and other Vajrayana topics.
The Maṇi Kambum is a Tibetan Buddhist terma text which contains teachings connected with the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara. The Maṇi Kambum was composed over time by different hands. It was likely composed from the 12th century to the 13th century.
Nyingma Gyubum is the Mahayoga, Anuyoga and Atiyoga Tantras of the Nyingma lineage.
Self-existing Perfection is one of the Seventeen tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.
Vima Nyingthig, “Seminal Heart of Vimalamitra”, is one of the two “seminal heart” collections of the menngagde cycle Dzogchen, the other one being “Seminal Heart of the Dakini”.
Traditionally the teachings are ascribed to Vimalamitra, but they were codified and collated by their Tibetan discoverers in the 11th and 12th century.
Union of the Sun and Moon
The Union of the Sun and Moon is one of the Seventeen tantras of the esoteric instruction cycle which are a suite of tantras known variously as: Nyingtik, Upadesha or Menngagde within Dzogchen discourse.”This tantra shows which experience a person undergoes in the intermediate state, the bardo, after passing away. It teaches how to resolve one’s master’s oral instructions during the bardo of this life, how to stabilize awareness during the bardo of dying, how to attain enlightenment through recognizing awareness during the bardo of dharmata, and, if necessary, how to be assured a rebirth in a natural nirmanakaya realm during the bardo of becoming and there reveal buddhahood without further rebirths.”
The Mirror of the Mind of Samantabhadra
The Mirror of the Mind of Samantabhadra is one of the Seventeen tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.
The Mirror of the Heart of Vajrasattva
Sixfold Expanse of Samantabhadra
The Sixfold Expanse of Samantabhadra is one of the Seventeen tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.
Shining Relics of Enlightened Body
Shining Relics of Enlightened Body is numbered amongst the ‘Seventeen Tantras of Menngagde’ within Dzogchen discourse and is part of the textual support for the Vima Nyingtik.
In Tibetan Buddhism, specifically in the literature and practice of Dzogchen, the seventeen tantras of the esoteric instruction cycle are a collection of tantras belonging to the textual division known as the “esoteric instruction cycle”.
Array of Jewels
The Array of Jewels is one of the Seventeen tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.
Self-arising Primordial Awareness
Self- Arising Primordial Awareness is one of the Seventeen tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.
Reverberation of Sound Tantra
The Reverberation of Sound Tantra, is considered to be the root tantra of the seventeen tantras of the Menngagde class of the Tibetan Buddhist Dzogchen tradition.
Blazing Lamp is one of the Seventeen tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.
Necklace of Precious Pearls
The Necklace of Precious Pearls is one of the Seventeen tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.
Lion’s Perfect Expressive Power
The Lion’s Perfect Expressive Power is one of the Seventeen tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.
The Kulayarāja Tantra is a Buddhist Tantra extant in Tibetan which centers upon the direct teachings of the primordial, ultimate Buddha (Adibuddha), Samantabhadra. Samantabhadra is presented or personified in this tantric Buddhist text as bodhi-citta, the Awakened Mind, the “mind of perfect purity”. In the Kunjed Gyalpo, Samantabhadra discourses to Vajrasattva who asks questions in clarification. This tantric work is the principal ‘mind-series’ text of the Dzogchen view of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. Importantly, the Kunjed Gyalpo is the first text in the Tsamdrak edition of the Nyingma Gyubum.
Great Auspicious Beauty Tantra
The Great Auspicious Beauty Tantra or Trashi Dzenden Chenpögyü is numbered amongst the ‘Seventeen Tantras of Menngagde’ within Dzogchen discourse and is part of the textual support for the Vima Nyingtik.
Direct Introduction (tantra)
Direct Introduction is one of the Seventeen tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.
Piled Gems, or Rinpo Chepungwa, is one of the Seventeen tantras of Dzogchen Upadesha.