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A tertön (Tibetan: གཏེར་སྟོན་, Wylie: gter ston)1 is a discoverer of ancient texts or "terma". Many tertöns are considered incarnations of the 25 main disciples of Padmasambhava. A vast system of transmission lineages developed. Nyingma scriptures were updated by terma discoveries, and terma teachings have guided many Buddhist and Bön practitioners.
According to generally accepted history, the rediscovering of terma began with the first tertön, Sangye Lama (1000–1080). Tertöns of outstanding importance were Padmasambhava (1124–1192), Guru Chowang (1212–1270), Rigdzin Gödem (1307–1408), Dorje Lingpa (1346-1405), Ratna Lingpa (1403–1478), Pema Lingpa (1450–1521), Migyur Dorje (1645–1667), and Jigme Lingpa (1729-1798), Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820–1892) and Orgyen Chokgyur Lingpa (1829–1870).
The "seal" of all tertöns is said to have been Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892). In one of his visions, he could clearly see all the terma that were hidden throughout Tibet and other countries. He was the only master in Tibetan history to have not only received, but also transmitted the "seven transmissions" (bka' babs bdun), that are the canonical teachings, treasures taken from the earth, reconcealed treasures, mind treasures, recollections, pure visions, and aural transmissions received in visions. (Ricard, undated).
In the 8th century, Padmasambhava predicted that in the future hundreds of tertöns would spread his teachings. Throughout the centuries many more people were known as tertön. Five of them were widely recognized as very important ones and called the "five tertön kings:"2
- Nyangral Nyima Özer (1124-1192)
- Guru Chökyi Wangchuk (1212-1270)
- Dorje Lingpa (1346-1405)
- Pema Lingpa (1445/50-1521)
- Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-1892)
One of the special requirements for the discovery of termas is the inspiration of the feminine principle, just as it was necessary for their concealment. The great majority of tertöns have been men, and generally they are accompanied by their wives or female companions (who need not necessarily have a sexual relationship with them). Alternatively, something representing the tertön's complementary energy, whether male or female, must be present.4
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Tertöns.|
- "Tibetan-English-Dictionary of Buddhist Teaching & Practice". Diamond Way Buddhism Worldwide. Rangjung Yeshe Translations & Publications. 1996. Retrieved 2011-02-05.
- "Tertön". Rigpa Wiki. Retrieved 2013-11-09.
- Courtesans and tantric consorts: sexualities in Buddhist narrative ... By Serinity Young; p155
- Fremantle, Francesca (2001). Luminous Emptiness: Understanding the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Boston, Massachusetts, USA: Shambhala Publications, Inc. ISBN 1-57062-450-X p.19.