The earliest terton in Tibet was named Sangye Lama. He was born at the start of the eleventh century and became a monk who practiced vajrayana. Sangye Lama is said to have lived eighty years. During his life he travelled and propagated the dharma widely, particularly in Central Tibet. He discovered several termas some of which were vajrayana practices, some of which were rituals from the sutra tradition translated from Chinese into Tibetan. This might have been important at that time because the monastic tradition was re-establishing itself in Central Tibet after the suppression of King Langdarma in the 9th century. All that remains of Sangye Lama’s original termas are some of the sutra rituals.
However, there is a kind of terma called a yangter, a rediscovered terma. These are termas that were discovered by one terton, and then re-concealed for the future because it was not the right time for the terma to be revealed. Sangye Lama re-concealed a terma called The Twenty One Dialogues Of The Sadhana That Combines the Three Roots in this manner. [The three roots are the guru, yidam or meditation deity, and protector, to be described in the coming days.]
Sangye Lama’s terma was then rediscovered by Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo in the 19th century. Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo is said to be a reincarnation of Sangye Lama, and the rediscovered terma is said to contain the essence of all of Sangye Lama’s termas. Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye later arranged this text into two empowerments: the essential empowerment and the torma empowerment. A torma is a colorful type of offering cake. Often a torma is a representation of the deity in a symbolic form.
Today we moved from the tantra class empowerments to the sadhana class. The essential and torma empowerments just mentioned were the first two empowerments in the sadhana class. After them came three more terma traditions of sadhanas combining the three roots, those of Karmapa Rangjung Dorje, Ratna Lingpa and the Northern Terma tradition, the terma cycles revealed by Gokyi Demtru Chen. The current lineage holder of the Northern Terma tradition is Changling Rinpoche who recently taught in Halifax and western Canada.
At the start of the session, just before we started the sadhana class empowerments, we received the final terma in the tantra section called The Empowerment for Chogyur Lingpa’s Supreme Bliss [Skt: Samvara] of the Union of the Buddhas. Lama Gyurme Dorje told us The Union Of The Buddhas is a Nyingma form of Chakrasamvara practice.