The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism

The Nyingma School has the longest established history of transmission of all of the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. The Nyingma School primarily relies on the Old Translations, particularly of Tantric texts, and its Tibetan origins are traced to Buddhist pioneers of the time during ‘trio of Abbot Shantarakshita, Acharya Padmasambhava, and Dharma King Trisong Deutsen (Khen-Lob-Choe-Sum). This early translations were prepared by realized masters whose own spiritual attainments guided their translations and are considered to be more close to the original Indian texts. According to the Nyingma lineage histories, the original teacher of the Dharma that came to be associated with the Nyingma was Samantabhadra (Kuntu-Sangpo), who is the ‘primordial Buddha’ and who embodies the truth body or Dharmakaya of all Buddhas. The Nyingma School also identifies Vajradhara (who is said to be an emanation of Samantabhadra), and the five Buddha families, as the original promulgators of many of its teachings and practices. These are said to be the ‘Complete Enjoyment Bodies’ or Samboghakaya Buddhas, whose teachings are primarily adapted to the cognitive capacities of very advanced practitioners. In addition to these exalted figures, this lineage also has a succession of distinguished human teachers, the most important of which is Padmasambhava, also known by Tibetans as ‘Guru Rinpoche’, the ‘Precious Master.’ Guru Rinpoche was from North India. This great tantric Yogi was instrumental in the introduction of Buddhism into Tibet. Because of the Nyingma lineages’ strong links to Guru Rinpoche, as well as to other great early teachers such as Vimalamitra, Vairocana, and Shantarakshita, etc. the lineage is often considered to represents the most authentic and complete teachings of the early masters who introduced Buddhism into Tibet.