Wood Monkey Year – 2004

The Significance of the Wood Monkey Year: 2131

Teaching given on Tibetan year 11/18/2130 – Gregorian: January 10, 2004

These days, we recognize the Monkey Year and Month as a special anniversary of Guru Rinpoche. The reason is unfathomable numbers of kalpas ago, many millions of Buddhas of the three times recited an aspiration prayer in order to propagate the teachings of the Secret Mantrayana and specially the Great Perfection (Dzogpachenpo) in the realm of sentient beings. These Buddhas poured forth blessings unanimously chanting the aspiration prayer that we know today as the Seven-Line Prayer:

[The Seven Vajra Line Invocation To The Lotus-Born Guru]

In the northwest country of Uddiyana

Born in the pollen heart of a lotus,

Endowed with the most marvelous spiritual attainments,

You are renowned as the “Lotus-Born.”

Surrounded by a retinue of many Dakinis,

Following in your footsteps

I pray to you: Please come forth and grant your blessings!


By the power of these words and intentions of the Buddhas and without depending on the parental cause, Guru Rinpoche was then born spontaneously in Dhanakosha Lake within a lotus. From then on in every following eon many Buddhas came to turn the Wheel of Dharma. During those periods Guru Rinpoche, though he may not be called by the same name but was still of one entity, manifested to benefit the fortunate beings with good karma by giving teachings of Secret Mantrayana and particularly the Great Perfection (Dzogpachenpo). Thus numerous beings were liberated.

When the three Buddhas of the past, Kasyapa, Kanakamuri, and Krakucchanda came to this Saha world, Guru Rinpoche manifested and taught Vajrayana teachings to the fortunate ones with the karma to receive them. Twenty-two years after the Parinirvana of Sakyamuni Buddha, in the southwest Dhanakosha Lake of this Buddha-field, many hundreds of thousands of Dakinis prayed to Guru Rinpoche by saying the Seven-Line Prayer. As the result of this, Guru Rinpoche manifested a form body in a lotus in the lake.

First, King Indrabodhi invited Guru Rinpoche to be his heir. However, gradually Guru Rinpoche renounced his kingship and went to practice austerity in the eight charnel grounds. There he turned the Wheel of Dharma for the mamos, pawos and pamos, and dakinis. He stayed more than a thousand years in India in these eight charnel grounds. When there was threat to Buddhadharma he appeared in person to clear the obstacles and turn the Wheel of Dharma. After doing, so he again returned to the charnel grounds.

For instance, in glorious Nalanda University there were many thousands Panditas. Of these adept Panditas, a most celebrated Pandita was kept at the four gates to discuss and debate with the Tirthika critics and avert their wrong views. For many years they were able to abide in this way, but at one time about five hundred Tirthika scholars who had mystical powers and adept in the field of sciences came to Nalanda. They challenged the Buddhists to debate and set the terms that whoever was defeated must follow the winner. Additionally they determined not only to debate but also to compete with their mystical powers.

While the Buddhist Panditas felt confident they could win in debate with the Tirthikas, they doubted their ability with mystical powers. They grieved thinking they might have to follow the Tirthikas. Then in dreams they saw a Dakini who told them, “This is a great threat to the Buddhadharma and you all cannot clear the obstacles. If you invite my brother he can avert this. Otherwise it will be impossible.” This was the prediction of Dakini Zhivatso.

When the Panditas asked her, “Who is your brother and where is he?” she replied that her brother was in Merebarwa Charnel Ground. The Panditas responded, “There is no one among us who can go there!” And she replied, “You don’t have to worry! Make a huge offering and a seat on the roof of the temple.” Then she taught them the Seven-Line Prayer and asked them to chant it while she departed to invite her brother. According to these instructions, the Panditas made a great offering, burned incense, and chanted the Seven-Line Prayer with deep devotion.

When Guru Rinpoche arrived, he came from the sky because the entrance to Nalanda University was blocked by many Tirthikas. At that time they allowed only the people who fetch water for the monastery to pass. Guru Rinpoche said to the Panditas, “You don’t have to worry – I can defeat the Tirthikas.” He then manifested into a four Panditas, one for each of the four directions. He debated the Tirthikas and defeated them. Then the Tirthikas displayed their mystical powers by doing things like flying in the sky as well as other wondrous deeds. But when Guru Rinpoche pointed his fingers in the wrathful mudra and said, “HUNG! HUNG!” the Tirthikas fell to the ground. As a result, they accepted their defeat and began to follow Buddhism. Then Guru Rinpoche himself taught the Panditas, afterwards returning back to the charnel grounds.

Such accounts of Guru Rinpoche appear not once or twice. There are numerous such accounts during his time in India.

Generally Buddhism came to Tibet during the reign of King Songtsen Gampo, but the establishment of Buddhism was very much prevented by the Bonpos and the Bonpo ministers. Additionally numerous local deities and evil spirits prevented the flowering of Buddhism. Because of this there were some developments and declinations of Buddhism for many generations of kings.

At the time when King Trisong Detsen was establishing Buddhism he encountered many obstacles to the building of temples. The spirits destroyed whatever men built in the daytime by carrying back the stones and earth used for building to their original places at night. They stopped rain from falling, caused fires to break out, as well as floods and other calamities. The king was greatly grieved and thought that he would never succeed in establishing Buddhadharma in Tibet.

Nyang Tingzin Zangpo, a master who had special power in shamatha, predicted though his meditational experience that if Lopon Chenpo Pemajungne, spontaneously born from a lotus, were to be invited to Tibet that he would be able to subjugate and bind under oath all the malignant local deities and eight classes of spirits in Tibet. That way it would be possible to establish the Buddhadharma.

Following this prediction, the king sent a few translators to India to invite Guru Rinpoche. These messengers met Guru Rinpoche in Nepal and presented him with an invitation letter and offerings of gold plates and other gold offerings. Then they told him of their purpose. He accepted but said, “You go before me, and I will follow afterwards. We cannot travel together because the local deities and spirits would show their magic and these would affect your bodies as they are made of flesh and blood.” Thus he sent the messengers before him and followed afterwards.

On his way from Nepal to Samye he encountered many malignant local deities and spirits who had mighty mystical powers. With each of them he challenged their power and mystical spells summoning them under his command. He gave them teachings, empowerments and put them under oath to follow the Buddhadharma. When he arrived in Samye he went to the peak of Hapori. There he summoned all the local deities and spirits of Tibet and subjugated them. He gave them teachings and kept them under oath to follow the Buddhadharma. From then on when the king was building Samye Monastery, the construction done by the spirits at night was greater then the one built by humans during the daytime. Samye was built much faster this way.

During that time the flawless Buddhadharma was flourishing in India. So Guru Rinpoche trained many Tibetan translators by teaching them Sanskrit and the Dharma and advising them to practice. When they developed spiritual powers under his guidance, he sent them to India to bring all the teachings of Buddha that existed. They brought the teachings and translated them into Tibetan. The two-system spiritual community was established with the saffron ordained monastics studying and practicing the sutras and the yogis studying and practicing the tantras. Thus the Buddhadharma flourished in Tibet like the rising of the sun.

As mentioned earlier, as one entity of exalted body, Guru Rinpoche manifested into numerous emanations. Through his eight manifestations he propagated the Buddhadharma. When he came to Tibet, he manifested in the form of Guru Dorje Drolod. In Tibet there are thirteen tiger’s dens, sacred places associated with Dorje Drolod. Simultaneously in these places Guru Rinpoche manifested as Dorje Drolod and brought the deities and spirits under oath causing the flourishing of the Buddhadharma. And, although we commonly speak of eight manifestations, there are forty manifestations and more. In this universe there are ten millions of three thousand worlds. Our world is just one of them. Just because we don’t see them, we can’t say they are not there. They do exist! In this universe there are ten million jambudvipa worlds. In all these Guru Rinpoche manifests individually to help sentient beings. In the six realms Guru Rinpoche manifests into six forms to help sentient beings. Generally speaking many accomplished meditators and adept scholars appeared in Tibet. The majority of them experienced the blessings of Guru Rinpoche and had visions of him. We can know about this by reading their biographies. Therefore we are very grateful to Guru Rinpoche.

So, primordially when many Buddhas came together and said the aspiration prayer of the Seven-Line Prayer, Guru Rinpoche was born at that time too on the Monkey Year and Month. In many other occasions when he manifested in the specific world it was the same year and month. In reality from the time when he primordially manifested by the blessing of Buddhas he has one body, which is free from birth, death, old age and sicknesses. Still then in the apparent phenomena of the sentient beings he appeared to them in many forms, and performed benevolent activities to benefit them. All these manifestations took place during the Monkey Year and Month.

Generally on every tenth day, he will come to any one who prays to him. We are not able to see him but actually he is always with us like our shadow. So the Monkey Year and Month is very important anniversary. During this time if we make offerings and pray to him there are many more blessings and it is more powerful. This is why we consider the Monkey Year and Month auspicious.


May the Guru remain in the world for a long time to come, may the light of His teachings pervade the sky of mind and bring happiness to all. We requested this teaching on the significance of the Monkey Year from the compassionate one, Kyabje Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche, who responded to our request with enthusiasm. The copy of the teaching was transcribed and translated by Khen Rinpoche Tenzin Norgay. The teaching took place on the 18th day of the 11th month in the Water Sheep Year. May these efforts serve to awaken the absolute reality of Guru Padmasambhava in the hearts of all beings.