A Brief Introduction to the Incarnations of Dza Mura Rinpoche
Translated from Tibetan
Known in Tibet as Chenrezig Mura Tulku, many great masters, including Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo and the Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche, recognised Mura Rinpoche as an emanation of the Buddha of Compassion, Avalokiteshvara.
Wherever Mura Rinpoche went, he benefited countless beings by holding mani prayer recitals, the six syllable heart mantra of Avalokiteshvara. As many as tens of thousands of people gathered to take part in these recitals. In places where recitals were held, old folks who, apart from reciting the mani knew no other way to practise Dharma, on their deathbeds would have visions of Avalokiteshvara and dream of Mura Rinpoche holding a white flag, coming to meet them.
At the beginning of twentieth century there was a famous delok or ‘returner from death’ named Duklip Lama. This lama would actually go to the hell realms and lead millions of beings to liberation. In his text entitled ‘Duklip Delok’, he writes that Arya Avalokiteshvara is unmatched amongst all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for actually going to the hell realms to shake up samsara from the very depths. He continues by saying amongst all the root lineage lamas of the day there is not one so compassionate as Mura Tulku, or one who brings as much benefit to sentient beings as he does.
In successive incarnations, wherever Mura Rinpoche went, he would encourage compassionate and virtuous behaviour. He would stop the hunting of wild animals, prevent the slaughter of yaks and sheep, and free livestock. As a result the places he visited became famous for the kindness of the local people.
Every time the master received offerings from faithful devotees, he used them to commission the carving of hundreds of thousands of mani mantras into stone. The flat stones were collected and piled up to form huge collections known as mani walls. The most famous of these collections is called Mura Mani and is located in the Serchu district of Eastern Tibet. It is one of the largest and most ancient collections of mani stones in the world, and many great masters have remarked that the wind and running water in the area carry the naturally occurring sound of the mani mantra. Mura Rinpoche himself said anyone who circumabulates the stones or makes offerings to them will not fall down to the lower realms.
The third Mura Rinpoche wrote that mani stones are unrivalled in their special qualities. He continued ‘There is not one drop of the essence of the eighty-four thousand teachings of the Buddha Dharma that is not contained within the six great syllables of the mani mantra. Carving the six letters into stone will preserve them as long as possible. If other, more extensive teachings were carved there would be a greater chance of small sections being damaged and making the scripture incomplete. Carving the mantra into stone makes it hard for the natural elements to destroy. If temples or representations of Buddha body, speech and mind are made out of gold, silver or other precious materials they can be destroyed by wind, rain or fire. They might be stolen or plundered and there is the risk of their being lost. People also might get the idea that they own them. These and many other delusions and drawbacks can occur. But this basis for creating merit that I have built is not easily destroyed. No one is going to consider a mani stone as their property, and for as long as it exists, not only the people of the area who make a connection with it, but even the insects carried on the wind that touch it, will at some time reach the level of liberation and become freed from samsara.’
The Five Incarnations of Mura Rinpoche
The First Mura Rinpoche Retrot Rinzin Gyatso was born in Nuktrot. When it was time to teach, he travelled to Dzodot in Kham and spent the rest of his life there. On the northern bank of the blue Dza river he began construction of the great Mura Mani wall.
The Second Mura Rinpoche Bonpo Gyurme Chodar was born in the region of Gazay and was recognised by the Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche Migyur Namkhe Dorje. Filled with the mind of Bodhichitta, this son of the conquerors showed all those who had a spiritual connection with him true happiness and peace.
The Third Mura Rinpoche Pema Daychen Zangpo was also born in Gazay and recognised by the Fourth Dzogchen Rinpoche. Having reached a high level of accomplishment, he possessed unhindered clairvoyance and miraculous powers. With the maturing empowerments of the kama and terma and the liberating guidance of the Great Perfection, he nurtured many great masters of awareness in Dokham region. In particular he was the main lineage holder of the profound guidance of the six bardos and had countless great students, including the Fifth Dzogchen Rinpoche Thupten Choki Dorje, Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche, Shadral Kunkar Palden, Shechen Gyalstup Pema Namdral, Great Khenpo Yonten Gyatso, Dukla Gonchok Gyaltsen, Great Khenpo Kunpal, Great Khenpo Tupgar, Gatok Nukchong and Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
The Fourth Mura Rinpoche Pema Norbu’s father was the Dzogchen awareness holder yogi Adro Socho, and his mother was Delok Khandro Baldron. He was recognised by the Fifth Dzogchen Rinpoche Tupthen Choki Dorje. His wisdom and intellect were excellent and he possessed clear signs of accomplishment and clairvoyance. He gave instructions of the maturing and liberating empowerments in many monasteries throughout the region, and those with karmic connections became his followers. As he gave numerous transmissions of the precious conqueror’s teachings, the sound of the mani mantra could be heard. He passed away in the body of great transference and disappeared into light. The number of masters who attain the rainbow body is not few, but to pass away in the body of great transference is very rare so his amazing biography is honoured within the Buddha Dharma.
The Fifth Mura Rinpoche Tenzin Khachab Dorje was born as his previous incarnation’s great grandson and was recognised by a consensus of many great masters. He is highly learned and rich in the pure and good spiritual qualities of a true master. He is a great teacher, debater and writer and engages in much study, contemplation and meditation. With his excellent command of Tibetan, Chinese and English he works world-wide to promote the qualities of compassion and kindness as the all-benefiting root of happiness, and to spread the holy Buddhist teachings.
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