Origin of Karma Lingpa
In the 8th century, the Dharma king of Tibet, Chogyal Thri-song Deu-tsen invited the great Indian tantric master, Guru Padmasambhava (emanation of Buddha Amitabha) to Tibet and they built the Samye monastery. Guru Padmasambhava gave many tantric teachings to the Kong and his subjects. During this time Guru Padmasambhava was residing in Ch’im-phu cave in the vicinity of Samye when an important minister of the king, Nyima, had a tragedy. Nyima who had two palaces and was in the process of moving from one to the other, was packing some belongings by the light of a lantern when a small spark caused a fire which instantly burned down the whole palace tragically killing thirteen people including his parents. All his horses, mules, cattle and other animals also perished in the fire. Minister Nyima, thinking of the love and respect that others show their parents felt that he had committed the heaviest of sins by causing the death of his parents and others.
The king desiring to end the suffering of his minister went to Ch’im-phu cave to request the help of Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava by miraculous power went to the Pure Land (Dewachen) to see Buddha Amitabha. He told Buddha Amitabha about the suffering of Minister Nyima and of all the sentient being and asked Buddha Amitabha to give a special teaching to free them all from suffering. Buddha Amitabha gave this Phowa teaching to Padmasambhava and instructed that it should only be given to Minister Nyima for the time being. Padmasambhava through miraculous power then came back to Ch’im-phu cave in Samye and gave this teaching to Minister Nyima who then gave up all worldly activities to practice the Phowa which he eventually actualized. Through the path of Phowa, Minister Nyima’s consciousness attained the Pure Land (Dewachen) and when death came, many different signs appeared like rainbows in the sky and relic from his body.
This Phowa text was hidden in the Black Mandala Lake which is at the back of Dhaglhagampo hill. The Naga King, Tsurana Ratna was asked to be the guardian of this text and was told by Padmasambhava that the future incarnation of Minister Nyima would be Nyida Sangye and that he must give the text to him.
Padmasambhava then left to go to the land of the Rakshas. After more than 350 years the incarnation of Minister Nyima was born as the son of a shepherd. When Nyida Sangye was growing up he felt great compassion and wept tears of sorrow when the animals would die. In order to alleviate his great suffering, Buddha Amitabha appeared to him and gave him this Phowa teaching for the benefit of all sentient beings. Nyida Sangye then gave Phowa to all the dying animals and often many different signs appeared.
The Naga king then came to Nyida Sangye and told him of the Hidden text (terma) and Nyida Sangye took the Ter from the Black Mandala Lake and gave the teaching to the Nagas. Through this teaching many of the Nagas were reborn into a higher life.
After this Nyida Sangye gave many teachings to human beings through which many reached liberation.
Karma Lingpa was Nyida Sangye’s eldest son.