The word “oracle” is used by Tibetans to refer to formless beings, whether mundane or enlightened, that enter certain chosen men and women who act as a medium between Man and Divinity. The medium is known as a ‘kuten’ (Wylie: sku rten), which literally means “physical basis”. In Tibet, oracles have played an important part in religion and government for centuries. Even today, His Holiness the Dalai Lama as well as the Tibetan government in exile is known to consult the Nechung Oracle, as well as the Gadong and Tenma Oracles for official state matters.
Dorje Shugden is widely regarded as the wrathful form of the Bodhisattva Manjushri, and is the deity that His Eminence the 25th Tsem Rinpoche has always had a close and special connection with.
These videos contain rare and never-seen-before footage of oracular monks who mysteriously took spontaneous trance in the presence of Tsem Rinpoche. In 2009, Rinpoche went on an impromptu visit to a monastery, called Nemo Gyelche, that he just happened to stumble upon during his visit to Tibet. While travelling from Lhasa to Shigatse, Rinpoche was told about the existence of Nemo Gyelche and decided to make an impromptu trip there.
No one in the monastery knew who Rinpoche was then. However, as Rinpoche was making a khata offering at the monastery’s Protector chapel, one of the monks present went into a spontaneous trance of Dorje Shugden and greeted Rinpoche in an incredibly warm and impassioned way that surprised everyone.
That would not be the only time Dorje Shugden oracles would go into euphoric frenzy in the presence of Tsem Rinpoche. On a separate occasion, when Rinpoche was in a hotel in Lhasa, it came to be known that Rinpoche was there. Sera Monastery’s oracle-in-training, an assistant of His Eminence Denma Gonsa Rinpoche and a few other monks waited for hours to have audience with Rinpoche. And it was during this audience that the Protector Dorje Shugden suddenly entered the oracle-monk who again became the physical intercessor for an enlightened being to show his great affection for Tsem Rinpoche.
What ensued was a moving and tender exchange between two supreme and numinous beings, each entreating the other in a divine conspiracy to bring Dharma to the world.
Dorje Shugden’s affection for Tsem Rinpoche is palpable and bears witness to the relationship and closeness the great Protector invites us to have with him. It is an affirmation that the key to Dorje Shugden’s heart is not any amount of gold but the simple and sincere practice of obeisance to the Guru, faith in the Protector, and a mind ready to be shaped by the holy Dharma.
With English and Tibetan (བོད་སྐད།) Subtitles
In this incredible video, we will see a number of segments that come together to cover various aspects of the oracular tradition and tell the story of Dorje Shugden’s closeness to Tsem Rinpoche.
1: Arising as Yamantaka
The video opens with extraordinary footage of Tsem Rinpoche self-arising as the all-powerful Buddha Yamantaka, to clear the speech and heart channels of the Sera Oracle. This was done at the request of Dorje Shugden himself, who has taken trance in the oracle.
2: Supramundane Communion
Then we see how the supramundane communion between the Lama and the Divine (as reflected in Rinpoche’s relationship with Dorje Shugden) is an established tradition within Tibetan Buddhism. The oracles, through which the deities enter and speak, have been relied upon by everyone from high lamas to ordinary practitioners, for many centuries. The tradition of consulting oracles is therefore an established institution and an important part of Tibetan spiritual practice.
In the 17th Century, the practice of consulting oracles was established as an institution when Nechung was installed as a State Oracle of Tibet. The unique function of the State Oracle is to advise the Tibetan government on state affairs. Here, we see the Nechung Oracle taking trance in pre-1959 Lhasa. The ceremony to invoke him is elaborate, and shows how important this ritual is within spiritual life.
3: The Oracular Tradition in Dharamsala
We then see scenes of Dharamsala and the oracles that His Holiness the Dalai Lama consults – the Nechung Oracle, the Gadong Oracle and the Tenma Oracle. As we can see, the reliance on oracles is not limited to a particular deity. Many Buddhas and Protectors are relied upon for their advice. The Dalai Lama’s reliance on oracles reflects that it is a widespread and established practice.
4: The Oracular Tradition in the Monasteries
Footage is then presented demonstrating the oracular tradition in Pomra Khangtsen of Sera Mey Monastery. We see the current Panglung Oracle, who is the 7th in line of one of Tibet’s most-established oracle institutions, taking trance of Dorje Shugden and other deities. The ceremony is elaborate and demonstrates that this is an important occasion for one of Tibetan Buddhism’s most well-known monasteries. This goes to show that the oracle is accepted by the whole monastery and is able to take trance even in the presence of attained high lamas, geshes and other members of the Sangha. Similar scenes are seen in present day Serpom Monastery in India.
5: Tsem Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden in Nyemo Gyelche Monastery
Then we see the special relationship between Tsem Rinpoche and the Protector Dorje Shugden, as witnessed in Nemo Gyelche Monastery when an oracle monk spontaneously took trance of Dorje Shugden.
This segment opens with Dorje Shugden embracing Tsem Rinpoche tightly, reflecting the spiritual communion between Protector and Lama. This close bond reflects Rinpoche’s clean samaya (teacher-disciple relationship) and supreme intention to spread the Dharma.
6: Tsem Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden in Lhasa
The next segment takes place in a hotel in Lhasa. During a visit to Tibet in 2009, a group of monks including one of H.E. Denma Gonsa Rinpoche’s assistants and an oracle monk-in-training had an audience with Tsem Rinpoche in his hotel room.
Dorje Shugden took spontaneous trance in the oracle monk-in-training and greeted Rinpoche in a manner similar to the oracle at Nemo Gyelche Monastery. Dorje Shugden entered and left the oracle a number of times, at which point Rinpoche arose as the Yidam (meditational deity) Yamantaka and invoked Dorje Shugden to enter the oracle, to prolong the trance session.
Towards the end, Dorje Shugden worked together with Rinpoche to clear and bless the psychic channels of the oracle. During this process, the oracle is seen hitting his chest to clear the energy channels. Dorje Shugden also requests Rinpoche to bless the oracle’s speech and heart channels to ensure that future trances are smoother and for the oracle to have the ability to speak clearly.
During the trance, Rinpoche made extensive and powerful aspirations to Dorje Shugden via the oracle for the Dharma to grow, for a learning institution to arise in Malaysia and for the efficacious Vajrayogini lineage to be proliferated, among others.
7: Tsem Rinpoche and Dorje Shugden in Kechara Forest Retreat
Finally, we see Dorje Shugden in Wisdom Hall at Kechara Forest Retreat, where the centuries-old tradition of oracles taking trance continues.
700 people witnessed Dorje Shugden’s vajra dance to clear obstacles, and his approval and support for Rinpoche’s Dharma work.
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