Remebering Gyalrong and Yungdrung Lhateng

Gyalrong is the name of a Tibetan region, which is to the southeast of Kham. Thai people know this region through the famous Jiujaigo. The people there are called Gyalrongbas. They look like Tibetan, dress a similar outfit but speak a different language called Gyalrong language. Sadly, nowadays they mainly speak Chinese and are illiterate in Tibetan.

Before I went to Chengdu this time, I planned to visit Gyalrong, particularly the Yungdrung Lhateng Monastery in Jinchuan, where I visited in January and met a lama named Pema Rigzin. His lineage is renowned for Chod practice. He himself finished a three year retreat at Dokden Monastery in Aba county before being appointed to look after this monastery. He also finished one and a half year Chod retreat and had gone to 108 springs to recite Chod alone.

Once he came to see Lhasray Rinpoche and asked him for his advice in managing this monastery. He said the people in Gyalrong do not pay much attention to monks and do not make offering. So it’s hard for monks to sustain themselves. Rinpoche suggested him and his monks to perform a feast offering to the protectress Palden Lhamo. He said when Hungchen Rinpoche was living, Yungdrung Lhateng was one of his temples and he made it a special place for a practice on Palden Lhamo. Pema Rigzin followed his advice. Although the monastery didn’t have much food, he offered the protectress all the tsampa they had. After that it was like a miracle. The monastery made a progress. More and more people come and offer the monks food. But since the Gyalrongbas do not eat yak’s meat and they raise mainly pigs, the monks decided to become vegetarians.

When we were there in January, there were only 5 monks. There’s a Chinese old lady from Xinjiang who came to look after them. Even though we were there for only 2 nights, it was a special experience. The first day I jotted down all the things needed to be done when one wants to practice Chod. The second day I made prostrations to Palden Lhamo in the assembly hall. I felt an urge to do so when I stepped inside the hall. I felt special blessings from Hungchen Rinpoche and Lhasray Rinpoche. While I was prostrating, Pema Rigzin recited the prayer to Palden Lhamo. The sound of his drum is still vivid in my memory even now. That night we recited Chod together using Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche’s text and recited the prayer for bardo beings using Hungchen Rinpoche’s text.

The reason I talked about Gyalrong is not only because I miss Yungdrung Lhateng but also because Gyalrong is a special region where many termas in the New Bon tradition have been discovered. One of the greatest masters of our time Kundrol Dragpa (b. 1700) or the first Kundrol started the rimed movement there. Hungchen Rinpoche is his 6th reincarnation.

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