Preface for the Chinese translation of "The Light of Wisdom" Vol I & II (Neton Chokling Rinpoche)

Preface for the Chinese translation of “The Light of Wisdom" Vol I & II

The Buddha turned the Wheel of the Dharma three times and illuminated 84,000 different teachings getImagegearing towards sentient beings of different faculties.  That does not mean that there are 84,000 distinct paths leading to 84,000 different fruits of result.  The end result is only one and that is Enlightenment.

With the help of one’s Guru, a practitioner on the path should know how to integrate the essence of these 84,000 instructions within his or her practice.   This is very important – otherwise you will think that you are walking towards your destination but in fact you are walking in the opposite direction or else taking the long bumpy road.  That is why some teachings mention that in order to be enlightened it will take many lifetimes of practice.  While there are others which state that enlightenment is possible within one lifetime or even in a few years time period – but that is if you are fortunate enough to have chosen the right path and the right direction.

After meeting Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo, Jowo Atisha thought that it was not necessary for him to be in Tibet when a great scholar like Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo was already in the country.   Jowo Atisha asked Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo how one can implement all the teachings elucidated by the Buddha in one’s practice.  Lotsawa Rinchen Zangpo answered that an individual should practice the different teachings following their separate discrete instructions.  To this Jowo Atisha responded that the Lotsawa was wrong saying that of all the different teachings one has to integrate the necessary ones and bring them onto a single path since the end result is one.  If the response made by a great scholar was erroneous what about us in this age of defilement?  For today’s practitioner this is the major problem that many are stumbling upon- not knowing how to integrate these pith instructions within one’s personal practice.

It is due to the immense kindness of Tibet’s Dharma King Trisong Duetsen that we have in our time, an already integrated teaching- spoken directly by Guru Padmasambhava himself.  While at the temple complex of the Glorious Samye, the Dharma king Trisong Duetsen together with his retinue of his sons and Vairotsana supplicated Guru Padmasambhava to bestow a pith instruction meant for the future sentient beings of the Time of Degeneration.   To this plea Guru Padmasambhava gave them the teaching of the Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo.  The Lamrim Yeshe Nyingpo covers the entire Buddhist path to Enlightenment especially that of the inner Vajrayana.  This is the heart essence of Guru Padmasambhava’s ultimate advice- easy to comprehend and observe.

Now the Chinese translation of this teaching and its commentary is available, may it be widely distributed among the Chinese-spoken people as well as benefit all sentient beings!

A Humble Subject of Padma,
Neten Chokling

錫金蓮師洞 Guru Rinpoche Caves in Sikkim


This writing had been a victim of my procrastination during the past 2 years. The disease hasn’t been cured completely so let me post some pictures and do a preliminary write-up for the time being.

札西頂: 一切的中心 / Tashiding – The Center of All

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According to Rigdzin Godem, Sikkim is a holy place and Tashiding is the center of this sacred mandala while the four Guru Rinpoche caves are situated in the four cardinal directions.

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Since Tashiding is such a holy place, plus all those sacred stupas, it is a must to come paying respect and offering prayers whenever on our way to and from the caves.

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Making offerings and prayers here was such a happy thing to do. I can easily spend a whole day here.

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Tashiding is said to be the place with 1 billion cities of dakinis. There are a lot of sacred imprints on rocks, such as foot prints of dakinis or the door to the hidden lands.

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南蓮師洞 Southern Cave: Lho Khandro Sang Phuk


This is the cave with easiest access and hence most people only come to this one. It only requires a 10 minutes walk down to the valley from where you can park the cars.

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The cave is slightly underground but not very deep. You just need to crawl through a very narrow passage to enter the inner chamber. The last passage is said to be the image of a particular deity. I won’t name which one so that you can look at the rock and use your own imagination.


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There is hot spring from the river. You can sit by that big rock and soak your feet. In high season, the cottage will be open to allow a bath I think. Somehow  I never came here in that high season.

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東洞 Eastern Cave: Shar Chog Bey Phuk

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There is motor road to this Eastern Cave now so the access is very convenient as well. From the road, it is also a 10-20 minutes walk down.

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This cave is however very deep underground, the kind of place where it seems you can walk miles down there and get lost. A flashlight is a must if you decide to go down.

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This cute dog had been leading us along the road to the cave and was faithfully sitting in front of the gate when we climbed out.


北洞 Northern Cave: Byang Lhari Rinchen Nying Phuk



Northern Cave and Western Cave are not accessible by car and requires a one day trekking from the nearest village. The journey to this Northern Cave is especially harsh. But several months after I went, I realized it is where Lhatsun Namkha Jigme revealed the terma Rigdzin Sokdrup, “The Practice of the Life of the Vidyadharas”, from which the “Riwo Sangcho" comes from, hence I have been very grateful to the friend who picked this cave over the Western Cave for me.

第一天:札西頂 –拉章 / Day 1: Tashiding to Labdang



So in order to go to Northern Cave, we took the public transportation from Tashiding to Labdang. The road was bad so even if you hire your own car, you will need to hire a jeep and someone who really knows the road.

When we went to have lunch before the jeep departed, we actually left our  2 backpacks and 2 duffel bags on the street unattended (just like what the picture above shows). I was a bit worried, but when we finished lunch, coming out of the restaurant, these bags were still there intact. That’s another reason why I love Sikkim. It’s just not like other parts of India where you need to watch out all the time.


There was another passenger on the jeep. He is from Labdang and agreed to be our guide for the trip. So the jeep dropped us directly somewhere near his place, then we walked for 10 minutes into the mountain to his house.

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The guide is Nepalese descend and his place is like a small shangrila to me. There are a few cottages together. Next door is his grandfather’s and others are his cousins’.  They grows a lot of things in the compound and have chickens, goats around.

We wandered into one of his cousin’s place as we heard the chanting of a lama doing a one-man puja there. They are all very nice people. They gave us tea and let us just sit there by the fire and enjoy the moment.

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Before it gets dark, the rooster and hens would walk over a wooden stripe  to get back to their elevated shelter. First time seeing chickens can be trained to do something.

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The guide let us stayed in the best room in his place. The Nepalese wooden cottage is very clean, and warm at night. The family cuisine was also good.

第二天:拉章-山上 (9 公里) / Day 2: Labdang into the Mountains (9 Km)

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Northern Cave is further inside the mountain from where I stayed.  Somewhere in the opposite range in the picture.

The 2012 rainy season lasted longer than usual. The local community  has not cleared the road to the cave yet. We were the first group trying to go that year. I was very surprised that our guide was willing to bring us in after I saw how much work he and his nephew had to do. They literally had to cut a road out of the jungle for us.

121007 Village to the Lodge 001(LR)01兩千多米的海拔,我們要走九公里的山路,翻過兩個山坳才能到蓮師洞。按一般人的腳程,單程要走五到七個小時,當天是無法來回的,所以晚上要在當地人為朝聖者所搭建的一個小屋裡過夜。

The altitude was 2000+m. 9 km to the cave, for the locals, it is a 4-5 hours walk, for city dwellers, probably 5-7 hours, so there is no way to do a day trip. You have to spend a night at a shelter house the community built near the cave.


This kind of trail only happened in the very beginning. Once we got to the other side of the mountain, there was no trail at all. The guide just took turn to cut a one-man wide passage out of the thick rainforest.


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In some places, we had to climb though land slides. Those are the times I’d thank Robert for teaching me rock climbing basics in Fontainebleau.

For the parts where the safety fence that locals built were completely out of shape, you can only chant mani and pray those grasses on the cliffs can provide you some support .

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But the view is good. At least in the beginning when you still have energy to appreciate and explore.

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錫金的蘭花很有名。Probably orchids.

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看了蘑菇就覺得肚子餓。Cute mushrooms.





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The real challenge was leeches. I didn’t realize there was such a thing until after 1/3 of the trail, I saw those blood coming out of one guide’s leg after he took out some leeches, even at that time I still thought it was due to those nasty sharp vines. Then those guys finally enlightened me by pointing at my own bloody pants. After I rolled up the pants, I saw leeches on my leg for the first time in my life – not one or two, but more than a dozen.

They were tiny. Most are not even 1 cm long. Yet they are vicious. Like motion detectors, they would know before you  come and stand up on the leaves, twisting and waiting for you. Once you pass by, they jump over to you, then they follow your pants or shoes to seek the soft skins to satiate their blood thirst.


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Fortunately when we got closer to the destination, probably due to the high altitude or something, the leeches all suddenly disappeared. Even those biting into you became inactive.

The shelter house is still several hundred meters from this sign and the Cave is probably 1 km away.

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This stream before reaching the house was like heaven. We ran out of water so refilled ourselves with this cool and sweet nectar. Also, took the leisure to stop and wash off the dead leeches on my feet. Though it was freezing and my feet turned purple, but it feels great.





The house is just a roof with walls for people to tug in for the night. No power but there is running spring water outside.

Since it was getting dark, so we decided to stay put and wait until the next morning for the cave.

Our guides made a fire and cooked some instant noodles they brought up as dinner. Then we all tugged in at 6pm. You do need a warm sleeping bag. My light one, said to be good for 10 C, was definitely not warm enough.  The guides simply wrapped themselves in a blanket so I should’ve asked them to bring a blanket for me instead.

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第三天:北洞-拉章 (11 公里) / Day 3: Up to the Northern Cave – Back to Labdang (11 Km)



So today, 1 km to and from the Cave, plus the 9km to get back to Labdang, a total 11 km to go.
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Although it feels walking in a special zone throughout the journey, the feeling got even stronger when getting closer to the cave.

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It’s a half open cave. Our guides helped us put up some prayer flags.

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I was amazed by all those statues and big butter lamps brought here by previous visitors.

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Sang offering and various prayers. It feels like something flowing in the air, like an unheard song, invisible, vibrating, making your mind clear and joyful.


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Though we started early, we spent a lot of time at the cave and it was almost 10 when we got back to pick up our luggage and had some breakfast. Next time I will spend more than a night there.



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回去的路上,連小背包都讓嚮導幫忙背回去。即使如此,還是到晚上七點多,天都全黑了才回到拉章。我的腳程就是來回都要9個小時 [汗]



Though I passed my little backpack to the guide, it still took me 9 hours to get back to Labdang. For them, since they don’t need to cut trees and make roads anymore, it probably took them only 3-4 hours to get back.

And they are super sweet. When I was tired and hungry on the road, one of them came back to us at around 4 pm to bring us some hot tea and warm roti!

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第四天:拉章-札西頂 / Day 4: Labdang to Tashiding

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Love this place I stayed in Labdang.

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On the previous night I took out those leeches in front of the guide’s house, my blood on the ground was still visible this morning. In total, I had 32 bites on my torso and 100-200 bites on my legs/feet. A great cleansing with all the blood I offered to this pilgrimage!

121009 Labdang 15(LR)01 這是拉章村的公車站。旁邊有個社區辦公室,一定要去那邊交錢支持他們的開路和維護聖地的工作,每人只收20盧比,5毛美金都不到。


This is the jeep stop in Labdang. The community has an office nearby. They only charge 20 Rupee per person for their hard work on making roads and maintaining the shelter. Please do support them.

For my guide, even though we did not talk about price upfront, this morning he charged a very reasonable 4000 Rupees for the two of us, including brining us up there, home stay, meals and everything. So  I offered  a tip for their hard work. Make sure you can find this guide if possible. Too bad I forgot his name already 😦

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Beautiful lights on the way  back  to Tashiding.

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Sikkim Pilgrimage 2011 錫金朝聖

Since most people needed to catch their flights, we only did a two-day trip out of Gangtok after the teachings. Hope I will get a chance to stay longer next time.

Temi Tea Garden 茶園
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After leaving Gangtok, we had breakfast and tea at Temi, the only tea garden in Sikkim and considered one of the best in India and in the world.

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I asked lama to buy me this snack after seeing an Indian chewing it in a tiny grocery shop. I suspected the Indian took something similar to betelnut wrapped in a leave, but the lama got me something sweet.  Ani-la forbid me eating it out of concern for my health so I only sample- tasted some of the ingredients. Like the rose flavor jelly sweets 🙂



Giant Guru Rinpoche Statue at Namchi 36公尺高的巨大蓮師像
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Ravanla Monastery and Buddha Park / 惹旺拉寺與佛陀公園
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Ravanla is building a Buddha Park 小鎮正在建設一個佛陀公園,以後可供人遊憩。
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Tashiding 扎西頂
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It is said that the whole Sikkim is a holy place and Tashiding is the most sacred place among Sikkim. Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro was cremated at Tashiding and the golden one is his stupa. Even thinking of soon to see this stupa made my way up so joyful.


There is also one ‘Thong-Wa-rang-Dol’, ‘Liberation by mere seeing’ stupa here.
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This old man, Garpa, came from my beloved Kyegu since his twenties and spent the past fifty years carving mani stones in this holy place. His works include various mantras and Buddha images. He kindly showed us around to see various sacred sites/imprints of Guru Rinpoche and dakinis. He is over seventy years old now but can still walk really fast.

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Guru Rinpoche Long Life Cave at Tashiding 蓮師長壽岩穴
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It was completely dark and rainy when we walked down the hill toward this cave. I was nagging silently that if not for waiting for Ratna Vajra Rinpoche for lunch, we could have arrived while there were still sunlight (some other people were nagging out loud…). When it was my turn to squeeze inside the cave (the passage is so narrow that only one person is allowed to try each time), I heard my jean ripped while passing through the sharp edge of rocks. The ripping was right on my butt that if I can tear off the bottom parts, they would become perfect hot pants for the beach. Now I was really happy that it was so dark that nobody can see this small disaster.




Pemayangtse Monastery 貝瑪楊澤寺
This is one of the oldest monasteries in Sikkim. 錫金最老的寺院。
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A Holy Lake 聖湖  — Khecheopalri Lake?
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This was the first capital of Sikkim, where the first Chogyal of the Kingdom of Sikkim was consecrated in the 1641 AD by three learned lamas.
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One Sikkim School 路過的錫金小學
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Another Holy Lake 又一神湖
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Guru Rinpoche Cave 蓮師洞
There are four Padmasambhava caves in Sikkim. This one, Khado Sangphug, is the only one accessible by car. Secret Cave of Dakinis, simply love the name! There is also hot spring right outside by the river.
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Gangtok 甘托克

View of Gangtok city from cable car
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Sikkim Legislative Assembly where H.H. Sakya Trizin gave a public teaching on “Basic Understanding of Buddhism” in October
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Tsuklakhang Royal Chapel and Monastery, where Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and Khandro Tsering Chodron used to live
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Namgyal Institute of Tibetology housing a rich depository of Tibetan literature, rare manuscripts, paintings, thangkas, statues and religious objects and other works of art and history
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Chorten Monastery where Dodrupchen Rinpoche resides with many many cats
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This cat is not from Chorten Gonpa but belongs to a friend. It treats me like a member of the family, or more precisely, a cushion of the house.
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Also learned how to make Tibetan barley wine, chiang 🙂
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Sikkim definitely offers the best Tibetan food, especially their family cuisine, simply delicious! The famous fireball chilies look deceivingly cute and I did not dare to try until reaching Manduwala.
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