dil mgo mkhyen brtse bka' 'bum
The Collected Works of the Supreme Lord of Refuge, the Vajra Holder Dilgo Khyentse, Gyurme Thekchok Tenpai Gyaltsen Palzangpo, in twenty-five volumes, was published in 1994 at the direction of his wife, Khandro Lhamo, and his grandson and successor, the Seventh Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche. The collection is a monument to Dilgo Khyentse's exemplary life as a dedicated scholar-practitioner that lead to an illustrious teaching career. As one of the last truly accomplished masters raised in old Tibet, he was instrumental in shepherding the latest generation of followers of the Tibetan Buddhist teachings and traditions. His extensive literary contributions represent a crucial facet of these activities.
The vast majority of the Dilgo Khyentse Kabum is made up of liturgical material geared towards the ritual enactment and transmission of tantric Buddhist practices. Among them, the section on sādhana, activity manuals, and other ritually orientated practice materials is by far the largest and spans eight volumes of the collection. These compositions provide accessibility to long established, sometimes even ancient, textual traditions and practices, often streamlining and standardizing their ritual performance for a more contemporary audience, thus preserving their vitality for current and future generations. These include numerous works outlining the proper performance of a drupchen, an intensive weeklong group practice performed on a massive scale. Often set in monastic compounds they are typically inclusive events that draw large crowds of participants from the surrounding lay communities. The enduring prevalence and popularity of these mass ritualized practice events in the Tibetan Buddhist world is often attributed in part to the activities of Dilgo Khyentse, himself, and the example he set with his continuous performance and staging of such drupchens throughout the last few decades of his life. In addition to these, Dilgo Khyentse wrote numerous arrangements for empowerment rituals, which span three volumes of the collections, as well as numerous contemplative guidebooks and detailed instructions on how to apply oneself in a variety of advanced practices, which span another four volumes.
Dilgo Khyentse was also a prodigious tertön, or revealer of treasures. The Dilgo Khyentse Kabum includes six volumes of treasure revelations, making him only second to Khyentse Wangpo, himself, in the sheer volume of revelatory output among the Khyentse incarnations. And, like Khyentse Wangpo before him, Dilgo Khyentse had the ability to restore lost or incomplete revelations. According to their colophons, many of these treasure texts were set into writing, or decoded, at the request or instigation of Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, highlighting the unique relationship between the two masters, as well as the possibility that sometimes two Khyentses can be even better than one.
While Dilgo Khyentse's literary output was undoubtedly prolific, one of the most impressive sections of the collection comes at the end. The last two volumes consist of a series of records of teachings that he received. This accounting of what we, in the West, might consider his curriculum vitae spans two volumes and fills more than twelve hundred pages. Thus we get a sense of the wealth of knowledge that he was able to gather over the course of his life. Knowledge that he would come to hone in decades of retreat, to the point of mastery. Therefore, when we consider the tremendous influence of his activities and their benefit to the Tibetans Buddhist teachings and community, it is difficult to quantify his legacy. He was not only a steward that served and furthered the Khyentse Lineage, he was its very embodiment. A role he fulfilled as flawlessly and completely as those that came before him.
For more on the specifics of this collection, see the Structure and Outline of the Dilgo Khyentse Kabum.
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- 669 texts cataloged in this collection.