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Shangpa Kagyu Teachings

CODE: 178


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The Shangpa Kagyu lineage is generally little known. It is often considered to be a secondary line of the Karma Kagyu lineage (the celebrated lineage of Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa, and the Karmapas), but in fact these two lineages were born at about the same period in India, around the 10th century. The Karma Kagyu lineage begins with Tilopa and Naropa. The Shangpa Kagyu lineage begins with the latter’s sister, the dakini Niguma, and the dakini Sukhasiddhi. From that time onwards each of the two lineages had its own development, even if they remained close to each other within Tibetan history.

Throughout its history, the Shangpa lineage has never converted itself into an institution or school. It is above all a lineage of practice and has never been concerned with power or wealth. Most of its holders were great yogis living in hermitages all of whom had attained great spiritual enlightenment.

It had very few monasteries, was without hierarchy, and remained a “secret” lineage transmitted from master to disciple. In each generation, several branches appeared; some of them passed away, others endured. Moreover, it was often held by masters of other lineages and schools.

In the 19th century, when it was almost extinguished, the great masters Jamgön Kongtrul Lodrö Thaye and Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo gathered together the transmissions of the different branches and gave renewed energy to the lineage. They along with Pema Nyingche Wangpo (the ninth Kenting Tai Situpa) put great effort into preserving and upholding the Shangpa lineage.

The lineage was revived in Palpung Monastery in Tibet where the Shangpa Kagyu retreat Nigu Choe Drug (Six Yogas of Niguma) was established, and still today functions as a Shangpa Kagyu retreat.

Then of course the previous Kalu Rinpoche went all over the world and established many retreat centres of both the Marpa Kagyu and Shangpa Kagyu lineages.