Jamyang Tenphel was a yogin and poet from Kham, the eastern province of Tibet, who lived during the second half of the nineteenth and early part of the twentieth centuries, practising meditation in lonely mountain valleys. As a disciple of the great Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, one of the luminaries of the Rime movement in Tibetan Buddhism, Jamyang Tenphel was profoundly influenced by the non-sectarian atmosphere of the time. In 1959, our teacher, Karma Thinley Rinpoche, a grand nephew of Jamyang Tenphel, brought a copy of his poems with him to India, and subsequently we were able to translate them.
Here is one of these poems, remarkable in its expression of the challenges of a spiritual life and the toughness needed for it. Here Jamyang Tenphel sings of the tenacity of his mind’s obsession with the ‘eight dharmas’ – praise, criticism, fame, notoriety, gain, loss, happiness and suffering. These eight dharmas are the obstacles to a spiritual life. Jamyang Tenphel himself was able to overcome them through the power of his indefatigable practice, and he became a true source of inspiration and blessings for others.
His life story is amazing. We will have more about Jamyang Tenphel in the future.
A Song of Jamyang Tenphel
Through the kindness of the root teacher, union of all refuges,
I have let go of this life and practiced the essence.
Yet the imprints of worldliness and the eight dharmas return again and again.
So I have made the vow to shake them off my foremost intention.
Food and clothing alone are enough of a basis for the eight dharmas,
So I wander alone in deserted lands and remote mountain valleys.
Withstanding heat and cold and enduring hardships,
I am living my life like the holy saints,
But if I do not achieve enlightenment in this life,
Think of me, my teacher, with your compassion, which accomplishes the benefit of beings.
Thus I spoke, generating endurance and remaining without wavering in the development and completion stages.