Rinpoche was on a roll last night. I think the transmissions are inspiring him enormously, even though, as he says, they’re “so difficult to understand.” No other transmission he’s given has required him to do any homework, but this time, on top of everything else he has to fit into his day, he goes through the next day’s teaching before retiring for the night. The man is a force of nature…
Without the Dam Ngak Dzö, Rinpoche said, we wouldn’t have the necessary authoritative texts to clarify problems or ‘doubts’ (as the Tibetans like to put it) that arise from the teachings we focus on today, for example the Longchen Nyingtik—which, according to Rinpoche, is child’s play in comparison to the teachings of the great Indian Mahasiddhas. If I understood Rinpoche correctly, the Dam Ngak Dzö is a compilation of all the root tantras that were the basis from which the Tibetan tradition evolved. Although I’m not sure I should use the word ‘evolve’…
Rinpoche then told a marvellous tale about one of the Indian Mahasiddhas who is also revered by the Hindu tradition. I assumed his teachings appear in the Dam Ngak Dzö, but Rinpoche wasn’t that explicit. You may be familiar with this story, but I think it bears retelling.
Minapa was a fisherman. One day he caught a fish that swallowed him whole, and he found himself living in its belly. At the same time, Shiva had finally decided to give Uma a teaching that, Rinpoche said, “he was only allow to give three times.” He therefore wanted to make sure no one overheard him and instructed Uma to build herself a dwelling under the sea. She did so, and soon Shiva began to teach.
As luck would have it, Minapa’s fish found its way to Uma’s undersea home and proceeded to circle it throughout the transmission. As a result and quite by accident, Minapa received all of Shiva’s teachings. When Uma dozed off and Shiva asked “Did you hear that?” it was Minapa who replied, “Yes.”
Uma later confessed that she had been asleep and couldn’t possibly have responded to his question, so Shiva, who was a god after all, located Minapa in the fish’s belly and realized that, having received the transmission, he was now his student.
I looked up Keith Dowman’s ‘adaptation’ (rather than translation) of this story and he reckons that Minapa then practised in the belly of the fish for twelve years before the fish was caught by another fisherman, who cut Minapa out. Minapa then worked for the benefit of others for 500 years, and progressed along the path until he ended up in a ‘Dakini Paradise.’ Appropriately enough, his name means ‘Fish-Siddha.’ Good story, no?