Nyingma traditional histories consider their teachings to trace back to the first Buddha Samantabhadra (Güntu Sangpo) and Indian mahasiddhas such as Garab Dorjé, Śrī Siṃha and Jñānasūtra.
Traditional sources trace the origin of the Nyingma order in Tibet to figures associated with the initial introduction of Buddhism in the 8th century, such as Padmasambhava, Yeshe Tsogyal, Vimalamitra, Vairotsana, Buddhaguhya and Shantaraksita.
Nyingma teachings are also known for having been passed down through networks of lay practitioners .
Nyingma Tradition is the old school of Tibetan Buddhism is the name given to the followers of those original translations of the teachings of the Buddha into Tibetan.
The Nyingma teachings are divided into the Long Transmission (Tib. ring gyü) of the Kama and the Short Transmission (Tib. nyé gyü) of Terma; other teachings were received by masters directly in Pure Visions (Tib. dak nang) from deities or gurus, in experiences or in dreams.
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The subject depicted in this thangka is called Guruparampara, a “Line of Teachers.”
It depicts the family tree of Nyingma lineage, as it were, and its function is to indicate a line of descent.
The meaning of this presentation is to show a refuge for believers. It creates a kind of structure with a number of deities and teachers in whom devotees take refuge, because they will help believers in the course of their spiritual development.
Tibetan Buddhism has such a unifying symbol, known variously as a Refuge assembly, Field of Merit, or Refuge Tree. It is known as a Refuge assembly because it is a visualized gathering of figures representing the three Refuges.
It is known as a Field of Merit because by visualizing a great array of Enlightened figures and then making offerings to them, and by performing other skillful actions, such as committing oneself to the Bodhisattva path .