A History of the Treasury of Precious Instructions
The following is an excerpt from Ringu Tulku’s The Ri-me Philosophy of Jamgön Kongtrul the Great:
When they were together at this time, Kongtrul asked Khyentse [Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo] what he thought of their collecting the most important instructions they had received from the eight practice lineages, in order to keep these teachings from fading away. Khyentse Rinpoche replied that he had already written down about twenty volumes of explanations and commentaries, but his writings were unorganized and there were some missing parts, like the empowerments. He told Kongtrul it would be very good for him to do that and that they should call it the Treasury of Instructions. Khyentse listed the order for the contents of the ten volumes of the Treasury of Instructions, and then he gave Kongtrul the transmission of the Red and Black Volumes of the Lamdre, which are Sakya lineage teachings of the Path with Its Result.
Khyentse told him, in particular, to write a commentary on the Sakya lineage teaching called the Eight Cycles of the Lamdre Teaching, and Kongtrul agreed to do that. On the ninth evening of that month, Khyentse Rinpoche had an auspicious dream in which he was in a beautiful forest in India, full of sandalwood and teak trees. He saw the Ngorpa Sakya lama, Khenchen Dorje Chang Jampa Kunga Tendzin, sitting on a throne made of teak wood. He was wearing monks’ robes and looked radiant, warm, and smiling. Khyentse prostrated to the khenpo, who said to him, “It is very good that you and Kongtrul Rinpoche are writing a book about the Lamdre teachings.”
Khyentse said to him, “Oh, we are not composing a book about the Lamdre teachings. Since last year we have been merely collecting the existing empowerments, transmissions, and instructions that are part of the Lamdre.”
The khenpo pretended he had not heard that and said again, “It is so excellent that you are writing a book on the Lamdre teachings. Previously, the great lama Sönam Gyaltsen wanted to make a commentary on all nine of the Lamdre teachings, but he finished commentaries on only the first four great root texts. He was unable to write commentaries on the eight later Lamdre teachings. So, your doing that will fulfill his intentions. Here is the text called the Hearing Lineage of the Path with Its Result. We should also give this to Kongtrul.”
Saying this, Khenchen Kunga Tendzin took out from under his arm a medium-sized red book and gave it to Khyentse. Khyentse was astonished because he had never heard of a text by that name. He thought to himself, “Why should this be given to Kongtrul?”
The khenpo smiled and said, “Of course, you realize that Kongtrul belongs to us.”
Khyentse asked out loud, “Who do you mean by ‘us’?”
The khenpo replied, “But of course, Kongtrul is Muchen Sangye Rinchen.”
Muchen Sangye Rinchen had been one of the greatest Sakya lamas, and Khyentse thought to himself, “Muchen Sangye Rinchen was the teacher of Jamgön Kunga Drölchok, a great Jonangpa lama. In fact, Muchen Sangye Rinchen gave Jamgön Kungpa Drölchok the Chakrasamvara teachings at the age of eleven or twelve. Jamgön Kunga Drölchok later reincarnated as Taranatha, and Taranatha reincarnated as Kongtrul. Unless Muchen Sangye Rinpoche and Jamgön Kungpa Drölchok are of one mind, one could not be the reincarnation of the other.”
Again the khenpo knew his thoughts and said, “That’s right. Muchen Sangye Rinchen and Jamgön Kunga Drölchok are of one mind.” That was Khyentse’s dream, which he later told to Kongtrul.
To encourage this particular composition, Khyentse Rinpoche offered Jamgön Kongtrul five very special representations of enlightened body, especially an image of Tara that spoke. This image had belonged to Nagarjuna and was discovered by Khyentse Rinpoche at the place called Shang Zabulung. As representations of enlightened speech, he gave Kongtrul twelve volumes of pith instructions, and there were also two gifts representing enlightened mind. While making these offerings, Khyentse Rinpoche made an elaborate and auspicious speech. Kongtrul took all those things back to his own retreat place, and there began writing his commentary on the Lamdre teachings.
During this time he also continued writing the Treasury of Instructions. He began this compilation in 1871, and put the finishing touches on it ten years later, in 1881. In the Water Horse year of 1882, he gave the first transmission of this work.
Resources Guide to The Treasury of Precious Instructions
- Resource Guide: An Overview
- A History of the Collection
- High Quality Recordings of the Video Workshop: A great way to really immerse yourself in this work!
- Download the catalog describing in great detail the 18 volumes
- A Reader's Guide to the Works of Jamgon Kongtrul
- Ringu Tulku discusses the importance of Treasury of Precious Instructions
- Translating the Tibetan
While not focused exclusively on the Treasury, this session preceded the workshop and touches on the work repeatedly. This will be of interest for any pracitioner, not just translators.