The Visionary Journey of Shuksep Jetsün Rikdzin Wangmo

Every Guru Rinpoche day for the last 12 years or so, Phakchok Rinpoche has been sending out letters to remind his students to be mindful, and to bring them back on the path.

Rinpoche already has begun to cover the visionary journeys of great practitioners to Copper-Colored Mountain (check out News for past stories), and Nekhor continues to share these Guru Rinpoche day messages. This, the ninth of the year’s series, recounts Shuksep Jetsün Rikdzin Wangmo’s journey to Copper-Colored Mountain:

Dear friends near and far,

As always, I hope this message finds you well, healthy and happy. Today, I would like to share with you the account of the visionary journey to Zangdok Palri of one of the great female practitioners of the twentieth century, Shuksep Jetsün Rikdzin Wangmo.

Shuksep Jetsün Rikdzin Wangmo (1865-1953) was an emanation of the ḍākinī Ting-Ö Barma (Blazing Blue Light), a manifestation of Yeshé Tsogyal, consort of Raksha Tötreng. Jetsünma was one of the most accomplished nuns and Dharma teachers of her time. She once remained in the death state for three weeks before coming back to tell the story (delok). She spent most of the latter part of her life teaching the Buddhadharma in the Shuksep monastery, below Longchenpa’s hermitage of White Skull Mountain (Gang-Ri Tökar) in Central Tibet.

One day, during her meditation session, Jetsünma fainted and beheld a beautiful ḍākinī with one eye who asked her if she wanted to go to the Copper-Colored Mountain. As Jetsünma answered yes, they flew through the air holding hands until they reached a majestic jeweled gate at the summit of a mountain. Here, the ḍākinī knocked and asked for permission for Jetsünma to enter.

After being cleansed by four beautiful ḍākinīs with water from purification vases, Jetsünma was led to the door of the Lotus Light Palace, where she was met by an extraordinary ḍākinī with auspicious marks and long, flowing hair. At that moment, her mind instantly merged into an absorption akin to the experience of reaching the tenth ground of realization. Together, Jetsünma and the ḍākinī then climbed the sixteen steps of the crystal staircase leading to the assembly hall.

The hall was exquisitely ornate, translucent, luxurious, and permeated with a sweet fragrance. It was filled to the brim with awareness-holders, scholars, and practitioners from India and Tibet, and in its center was Guru Rinpoché on top of an eight-cornered jeweled throne covered with fine silks. Guru Rinpoché shone with the radiance of a thousand suns, and was extraordinarily delightful to behold. Filled with devotion, Jetsünma prostrated to the Mahā Guru who smiled at her and said:

O manifestation of Ting-Ö Barma, pay heed!
This, the Copper-Colored Mountain, supreme among all,
is my excellent pure land.
It cannot be perceived by ordinary beings,
but only by men and women of great merit.
All these knowledge-holders, scholars, and practitioners
have achieved great accomplishment.
Whoever reaches this pure land
will never return to samsara, but attain Buddhahood—
so generate devotion and rejoice!
Now you must return to Tibet at once.
Be the leader who teaches cause and effect.
Be the instructor who propagates the Mahāyāna.
Be the crown jewel of all ḍākinīs.
Be the holder of the heart-essence of my tradition.

At these words, Jetsünma sang prayers to the whole assembly, who responded with the Vajra Guru mantra. Guru Rinpoché then touched her head with both hands and conferred the four empowerments onto her.

The beautiful ḍākinī who had led her to the palace then came to her, touched her forehead to Jetsünma’s, and said:

O fortunate girl, listen well! I am Ting-Ö Barma,
and we are inseparable, like water and the moon’s reflection in it.
Don’t be saddened at leaving—
by the compassion of Guru Rinpoché, you will benefit many!

Ting-Ö Barma then saw Jetsünma off. On her journey home, she visited many different realms where she benefitted numerous suffering beings. Finally, she returned to her body, swiftly recovered, and went on teach the Dharma for decades.

May we all give rise to such devotion that we too may reach the Copper-Colored Mountain in our lifetimes.

Sarva Mangalam,

Kyabgön Phakchok Rinpoche

*Shuksep Jetsün Rikdzin Wangmo’s photo generously provided by Tibet Nuns Project