In this recording, Phakchok Rinpoche recounts stories of the life and activities of the Mahāguru Padmasambhava or Guru Rinpoche. Rinpoche talks about the prophecy made by Buddha Śākyamuni 2,600 years ago that, 20 years after his parinirvana a great master would emerge after being miraculously born from a lotus on lake Dhanakosha in the kingdom of Oḍḍiyāna. Guru Rinpoche is the embodiment of Buddha Amitābha, Avalokiteśvara, and Śākyamuni.
Rinpoche recounts Guru Rinpoche’s search for the Dharma throughout classical India. He spent a century studying the Dharma at Bodhgaya with Shakyamuni’s main disciple, Ānanda. In this form, he manifested as Shakya Sengé. Later, he returned to Bodhgaya to defend Buddhism from Non-Buddhist philosophers as Sengé Dradok, “The Lion’s Roar.” He practiced in the great charnel grounds of India, where he appeared as Guru Nyima Ozer. Traveling the lands of India, he obtained instructions in the Vajrayana from the Khotanese master, Shri Singha. In one arresting story, Guru Rinpoche is eaten by one of his teachers, miraculously transforming into a seed-syllable as he passes through the Guru’s vajra body. Phakchok Rinpoche emphasizes the vast multitude of Buddhist masters. And in the modern era, we are unlikely to be able to meet and practice all their teachings and systems. However, we can meet Guru Rinpoche, the master who has accomplished them all and is one with all Buddhas.
Guru Rinpoche’s activities are not limited to India. He also traveled widely throughout the broader Himalayan region. In Nepal, he practiced Amitāyus with his consort, the Indian princess Mandāravā. Through accomplishing Amitāyus, he achieved the state of life mastery and attained immortality. During his stay in Nepal, he also accomplished the practice and became one with Shri Heruka. In Bhutan, he bound the indigenous mountain spirits to the Dharma, making them Dharmaphalas, or protectors of the doctrine and practitioners. In this form, his consort transformed into a tigress, and he manifested as Dorjé Drolö, “Fearless Vajra Wrath”.
Most famously, Guru Rinpoche was invited to Tibet at the behest of Emperor Trisong Detsen. The Bengali Abbot Śāntarakṣita requested his attendance in Tibet to help tame the spirits that were preventing the construction of the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet, Samye. With his Vajra, Guru Rinpoche bound the spirits of Tibet to the Dharma, and they assisted in the construction of this famous monastery.
Ultimately, Guru Rinpoche has transcended birth and death. Accomplishing the Great Rainbow Body of accomplished Dzogchen practitioners, Guru Rinpoche’s body became light, as did his Guru Vimalamitra. Masters have continued to demonstrate this accomplishment until the present day. Rinpoche talks about a practitioner who accomplished the Great Rainbow Body in the modern era. Less diligent Dzogchen practitioners can accomplish the Minor Rainbow Body, which is demonstrated by the shrinkage of the body after apparent death.
You can read more about the life and activities of Guru Rinpoche in The Great Tertön: The Life and Activities of Chokgyur Lingpa, which recounts the life-stories of Guru Rinpoche, Chokgyur Lingpa, and the subsequent Chokling incarnations. Lhasey Lotsawa Translations and Publications also maintains a library of texts by the Chokgyur Lingpa replete with praises, supplications, and stories connecting to the Mahaguru Padmasambhava.