Sangye Nyentön – Rigongpa

Sangye Nyentön was born to a family in Yol in 1175. He became more widely known as Rigongpa due to his practicing and teaching for many years in Rigong. From a young age he showed a natural inclination towards the Dharma and took to heart the attitude of Bodhicitta. Once he met his Lama Khyergangpa, he stayed inseparable from him in Khyergang. As predicted by Mochokpa, he was to become the next lineage holder. Lama Khyergangpa transmitted the secret instructions to Rigongpa in their entirety. He informed him of his past and future lives and advised Rigongpa to lead the life of a secret yogi, drinking beer, eating food offerings, wearing old rags and enjoying mixed company. Khyergangpa predicted that Rigongpa would establish connections with many students and would have ten fully realised disciples who would hold his transmission and the lineage of the Shangpa lamas.

Rigongpa was able to see many deities face to face. He was known to be especially close to the Six Armed Mahakala, the main protector of the Shangpa Lineage. He was protected so fiercely that when meeting Palden Lhamo in a vision, he beseeched her not to harm those human beings the protectors considered to be his enemies. In return, she requested the construction of a Six Armed Mahakala statue. At that time, an emanation of the protector appeared as a yogic practitioner, who constructed and consecrated the statue by dissolving into it, with Rigongpa in close attendance. It was housed in a special shrine that to this day attracts many great masters, including the previous Kalu Rinpoche. Upon entering the site, he commented on how the statue and the locality had retained its extraordinary blessings.

In his later years Rigongpa visited various Buddha realms in his dreams, where he was granted many empowerments and teachings. Rigongpa experienced visions of clouds of dakas and dakinis. Once a dakini appeared to him, and upon him asking who she was, she replied:”I am Sukhasiddhi, which means Bliss Accomplishment, ‘Bliss’ because my mind is filled with stainless wisdom; ‘Accomplishment’ because one can accomplish the extraordinary siddhis within a year or month by praying to me.” The dakini proceeded to bestow the four complete empowerments, the main points of practice and the supreme points on realising the non-duality of bliss and emptiness. Then Sukhasiddhi told Rigongpa, “Yogi, since your body, speech and mind are liberated, those who receive empowerments from you will never again fall into the three lower realms.” Rigongpa benefited many disciples, establishing them on the path to liberation. He passed away in 1247, at the age of seventy-two.