Guru Rinpoche Day Teachings

Khandro Yeshé Tsogyel’s Departure to the Copper-Colored Mountain

Dear friends near and far

I hope this message finds you well, healthy and happy, as this new year begins. On this Guru Rinpoché day, I would like to share with you the account of Khandro Yeshé Tsogyel’s departure to the Copper-Colored Mountain at the end of her life.

On Khandro Yeshé Tsogyel’s two-hundred and eleventh birthday, her time of teaching the beings of this world had come to an end, as foretold by the Lotus Guru, her consort. And, just as Guru Padmasambhava had departed to the Copper-Colored Mountain one hundred and thirty-one years before, so she too was now bound to do so. Having bestowed final Ati pith instructions upon her eleven root disciples, thus liberating them all, she announced that in five days, on the eighth of the Tibetan month, they would all climb to the summit of Mount Zapbu and see a great wonder: the Copper-Colored Mountain. As they made their way up the mountain, close disciples and fortunate followers made vast feast offerings, supplicated Khandro Yeshé Tsogyel not to depart, and received her advice, instructions, and prophecies.

Throughout the night of the eighth and the ninth day, myriads of ḍākinīs then appeared in the sky, each with different colors, steeds, weapons, ornaments, and postures, singing and dancing their praises and offerings to Khandro Yeshé Tsogyel. She in turn made a vast feast offering (ganachakra) and, at dusk, made her way up to the summit of the mountain, which was indeed heart-shaped like the Copper-Colored Mountain. There, a host of rākṣasas and the four Guardian Kings successively came to invite Khandro Yeshé Tsogyel to the Guru’s pure land. All the spirits and deities of the land of Tibet then also appeared, and upon all who requested, she bestowed final prophecies and instructions.

Finally, on the tenth day of the month, a palanquin of light in the form of an eight-petaled lotus appeared with the first light of dawn, borne by four ḍākinīs. The Lady stepped onto it, a ḍāmaru in her right hand and skull-cup in her left. Becoming radiant with five-colored light, she dissolved into a sphere of deep blue light, and disappeared. The four ḍākinīs then raised the shimmering light upon the four-petalled lotus high into the air until it disappeared. All those present cried out and lamented, weeping and wailing in supplication. Then Khandro Yeshé Tsogyel’s voice resounded from a cloud of brilliant light, bestowing a final teaching that concluded in this way:

The Lotus-Born is your predestined teacher.
To accomplish the Guru you should strive,
Perceiving your own teacher in the form of Padma.
Thus the blessings of compassion will flow the more abundantly.
Practice on the Teacher’s Mind in sadhanas both long and short,
And Buddhahood, I pledge, in one life will be yours.
Recite the quintessential Guru Siddhi mantra.
On the tenth day of the waxing and the waning moon,
And on the eighth day and the fifteenth of the month,
Keep the ganachakra feast with offerings.
A single ganachakra, and the door is closed to birth in lower realms!
I promise, it will lead you to the state of no returning.

This is certain truth. This know and understand!
The essence of the teacher is this Guru Siddhi mantra:
OM: is the union in five Bodies of all Buddhas gone to bliss;
ĀḤ: distills the essence of the fivefold wisdom Speech;
HŪṂ: is the Suchness Body, Wisdom’s five aspects;
VA: is the sign and seal of indestructibility;
JRA: is deployment of the diamond-like compassion;
GU: the guru herukas of the triple time;
RU: the drop of essence that matures and liberates;
PAD: the threshold of the pure abode of bliss;
MA: is staying in the womb of bliss unmoving;
SID: is compassion in great strength and power;
DHI: is the accomplishment that satisfies all wants;
HŪṂ: the gaining of dominion in the primal ground.

This mantra has indeed the likeness of a wishing-jewel.
And further, since the twelve dependent links thereby are purified,
It is the nature of the ten perfections,
And therefore the Great Mother.
Of every aspiration it is the fulfillment.
Thus, all of you now here, and those in times to come,
Should zealously recite this mantra.

For a time now, while your dualistic minds persist,
It will seem that I have left you, but take heart.
When your dualistic minds subside, you will see that we were never parted.
May health and happiness embrace the very limits of the sky!”

Extracted from Lady of the Lotus-Born, trans. Padmakara Translation Group, pp.205-6.

With these instructions of profound wisdom, I wish you all benefit and happiness at the beginning of this new year.

Sarva Mangalam,


Phakchok Rinpoche


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4 responses on "Khandro Yeshé Tsogyel’s Departure to the Copper-Colored Mountain"

  1. The you Rinpoche for Yeshé Tsogyal‘s final request. It is very beautiful, encouraging and gives more confidence in our practise. Please Rinpoche have a very long live, perfect disciples and success in whatever you wish for. Your desasterous student, Michael

  2. Thank you Rinpoche for Yeshé Tsogyal‘s final request. It is very beautiful, encouraging and gives more confidence in our practise. Please Rinpoche have a very long live, perfect disciples and success in whatever you wish for. Your desasterous student, Michael

  3. very inspiring Rinpoche, thank you! Hopefully I will see you soon, either in my country or in Nepal.

    Shlomo Shantiparamita

  4. Thankyou so much for this story about Yeshe Tsogyal it is so beautiful ,I find Yeshe Tsogyal so inspiring

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.