Buddhist teachings are presented in different ways in accord with different times and individuals. The teachings of Yangti Nagpo “The Black Quintessence” are prophesied to be uniquely apt for the people of our current era as a means to attain complete enlightenment in a single lifetime.
Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche began teaching Yangti in the United States as part of his efforts to preserve and spread these powerful and beautiful spiritual practices. Each year the Ewam Yangti Gomde gathers at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas outside Missoula, Montana to receive teachings and practice guidance on progressive levels of meditation beginning with ngondro (preliminary practices) up through the phases of Dzogchen meditation. The entire course of instruction is received over a number of years, with each subsequent level entered based on the completion of the practice commitments of previous levels. Because even the ngondro has unique features not found in other systems, all participants, no matter previous experience, begin by receiving ngondro and progress through each stage.
Lineage and History
Its full title, Yangti Nagpo Ser Kyi Dru Chig “The Single Golden Syllable of the Black Quintessence” is a terma cycle of spiritual trainings dating back to the 15th century. Within the Nyingma system of Dzogchen there are the Mind (sem), Space (ying), and Pith Instruction (mengak) classes of teachings. Within the Pith Instruction Class there are the, Ati, Chiti, and Yangti levels of teaching. As the name suggests, the Yangti Nagpo teachings belong to the Yangti or quintessence class.
These teachings were initially revealed by Dungtso Repa the Later, an emanation of both Yeshe Tsogyal and Vairochana. The first Dungtso Repa was said to be a rebirth of Yeshe Dorje who is thought to either refer to a direct disciple of Gampopa or possibly to the Drukpa Kagyu master, Lingje Repa. This initial revelation occurred in the 15th century at Lake Mandal Nagpo in the Gampo Region of central Tibet and consisted of a Dzogchen guru sadhana and dark retreat instructions.
In the 19th century, a contemporary and close Dharma friend of Shabkar named Chinkar Donyo Dorje, made further Yangti revelations including the guru sadhana, Kusum Thugtik. At that time however, he stated the conditions were not right for these additions to the cycle to be disseminated, and that in his subsequent incarnation he would re-reveal and transmit these teachings. His next incarnation was Trulshik Dongag Lingpa who made the prophecied re-revelations and bestowed the Yangti teachings to the renowned Nyingma master of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the nun Chonyi Zangmo, popularly known as Shuksep Jetsun. Over the latter part of her life, Shuksep Jetsun made these teachings her main practice spending 3 months a year in Yangti dark retreat.
It was from Shuksep Jetsun that the modern day Nyingma master Trulshik Rinpoche received the Yangti teachings, with particular emphasis on the Dzogchen and dark retreat phases of practice. Trulshik Rinpoche also received Yangti teachings from Dzatrul Ngawang Tenzin Norbu, who was a prophecied holder of the cycle. Trulshik Rinpoche wrote extensive commentaries on key points of both practice and ritual, many of which the Yangti Translation Committee is in the process of translating into English.
Tulku Sang-ngag Rinpoche received these teachings from the late Trulshik Rinpoche, who entrusted him to preserve and also transmit these teachings in the West. As a primary living lineage holder of Yangti Nagpo in the world today, Tulku Sang-ngag has taken upon himself the responsibility of upholding, preserving, and disseminating these unique practices throughout Asia and in the United States.
Although sometimes mistakenly considered to be solely focused on dark retreat, Yangti Nagpo is in fact an extensive cycle of spiritual trainings spanning the breadth of Tibetan Vajrayana practice. In Tulku Sang-ngag’s Yangti Gomde, students are trained in these many practices within the categories of ngondro, kyerim, dzogrim, and dzogchen. In both the old and new revelations of Yangti, dark retreat is the main emphasis and the primary unique feature of these teachings setting them apart from of Dzogchen cycles, however entering into dark retreat will not happen right away if at all. Ewam Yangti Gomde is designed to impart a vast toolbox of spiritual practices. Which of these end up becoming a main or long-term practice depends of students individual interests and aptitudes.
At the annual Yangti Gomde gathering held at the Garden of One Thousand Buddhas in Arlee, Montana, in addition to individual practice instruction, students receive ceremonial instruction and practice in the form of a drupchö (group ritual ceremony) over one week. The drupchö is based on the Yangti Shitro Sadhana (100 peaceful and wrathful deities), a central practice within Yangti Nagpo. The main purpose of the annual Yangti Gomde gathering is for students to be guided progressively through a series of trainings over a number of years. These trainings progress through the following sequence: 1-ngondro (preliminary practices) 2-tsasum (three roots) sadhana practices focused on kyerim (development stage) 3-tsalung (subtle channels and energies training) including tummo and trulkhor 4-Dzogchen (Great Perfection) practices including rushen, trekcho, and togel. Each section of teachings is taught by Tulku Sang-ngag with additional instruction given by both Tibetan and western practitioners.
After receiving all levels of teachings and fulfilling all individual practice commitments, some students will be guided in dark retreat at the behest of Tulku Sang-ngag. Additional teachings, such as those of the 7 Jewels, the Yangti version of the practices of the six yogas, and other auxiliary practices may be taught to small groups of practitioners at different times throughout the year.
View the entire Yangti Nagpo curriculum here:
A major part of Tulku Sang-ngag’s activities involves the translation of ancient Nyingma literature as part of preservation and transmission. The entirety of the Yangti Nagpo teachings are being translated by the Ewam Translation Group. This process is ongoing and requires countless hours of meticulous effort by a number of people. If you want to support this project by donating on a one-time or continual basis please visit ewam.org/donate and be sure to specify in the message field the purpose of your donation. You can also sponsor the translation of specific sections or practices.