Simdha Getok Tulku Getse Pema Rinchen Rinpoche

Getse Pema was born in the water-rabbit year of 1745 in Madza Zelmoi Gang, Derge, Kham. He was recognized as the reincarnation of Nyida Sangye (d.1744/5).

During the Derge King's time, he had four states under his kingdom. Likewise, they had appointed four different ministers to look after each of the state. Pema Rinchen was born in the Getok House who was heading such one of the state. Thereby, henceforth given the title of the Second Getse Getok; his previous incarnation was thus posthumously given the title of First Getse Getok. He is the first successor of abbots of Sim Dzogchen’s second lineage.

When he was quite young, he took vows and received many teachings from the master with which he had been connected throughout many lifetimes. He is said to have taken the vows at a young age before joining Mindroling Monastery in central Tibet. There he received teachings and transmissions from several teachings, including the third throne holder of Mindroling, Rinchen Namgyel (1694-1758) and afterwards went into solitary retreat for five years at place called “The Sky Fortress of the Lion”at the end of which he personally met his yidam, completely realizing the dzogchen, and gaining clairvoyance. It is also said that during this time he was able to remember the phowa practice ('pho ba) instructions he had received in his past lives, and was thus able to teach them again.

When he was forty-four years old he oversaw the expansion of Shang-ngak Monastery at the request of the Third Shechen Rabjam, Rigdzin Peljor Gyatso (1771-1807). Since the Third Simdha Dzogchen Tulku, Gyurme Tekchok Tenpa Namgyel (1786-1839) was at that time too young to care for Simdha Dzogchen Monastery, with close ties to Mindroling – the Third Rabjam requested him to supervise the monastery.

During his tenure at Simdha Dzogchen he relocated the monastery, which was falling apart due to water damage and was apparently infested with snakes. The Fifth Mindrolling Trichen, Gyurme Trinle Namgyal (1765-1812) was consulted, and the site where it currently stands was chosen, and it was renamed Sangchen Tashi Chenmo - The Auspicious Dharma Place of the Great Secret.

Getse Pema supervised the construction and design of the monastery, which was filled with many exemplary art pieces. Its monks were sent to Mindroling to learn ritual (the ritual tradition of the monastery follows that of Mindroling). The monastery's ritual dance tradition was also initiated at that time.

Getse Pema was known as a potent practitioner of phowa, and his hagiography includes stories to illustrate this. For example, one story tells of two young cattle herders who thought to play a prank. One approached Getse Pema with the slingshot of the other, who he claimed was dead, and asked him to perform phowa. After the service, when he returned to his friend, he found that the phowa had been successful and his friend's consciousness had been ejected from his body; he was dead. The young man returned to Getse Pema, who restored his friend's consciousness to his body.

Getse Pema was also known for his incredible power of clairvoyance. One day, when he was in Zachuka, two kids who were herding cattle had heard about his phowa abilities and decided to test them. One of the kids pretended to be dead, while the other went to the Lama with his friend’s slingshot, told him his friend had died of a terrible disease, and asked for a phowa for his dead friend. The Lama did the phowa on the slingshot without checking if the friend had actually died. When the boy got back to his friend, he found that the power of the phowa had really killed him. He went back to the Lama, crying, and told him about the prank. The Lama came to where the corpse was, and did a ceremony to pull the consciousness back into the body.

Other times, he would do phowa and the corpse’s skull would then explode into pieces. There are many incredible stories like this. He was well-known for his ability to give teachings by experience to many people according to their needs. His many great disciples included the third Simdha Dzogchen Rinpoche.

He had a knack for leading even the unbelieving to the dharma, and for known the unknowable; for example, he told the builders to be on the lookout to the East, for he was waiting for someone. Two days later, someone did arrive from that direction bringing a big piece of silver. He was also able to repeat anything that was said behind his back; thus, anyone coming into contact with him was compelled to be a good practitioner.

Another example: one family had a disease break out amongst their flock of sheep, so the father of the family told them to go and see Dzogchen Tulku. “As a last resort,” he added, “In case Dzogchen Tulku is not available, consult with Getse Pema.” Because Dzogchen Tulku wasn’t there, they did have to ask Getse Pema to do the divination. The resulting divination began with, “The Divination of the Last Resort Lama, Getse, is...”

Once, when Simdha Monastery was complete and all the rituals and practices were well established, he traveled to Zachukha. On his way, he was invited by a family for tea, which he tried to refuse; however, they were so insistent, he felt obligated to go. He told them, “Actually, I never planned to come back to this place again. However, because of the connection created by your hospitality, I’ll have to return.” And he traveled on to Zachukha and built the third branch of Shechen there, called Phugen Choekhor Dechen Lhunpo. Later on, this monastery had over 1,000 monks, and he spent the latter part of his life there. He passed away there, where his relics exist to this day. 

In his final years he built a monastery called Pugen Chokhor Dechen Lhunpo, which is said to have reached a size of one thousand monks. He passed away there in a water bird year, 1813.

BIBLOGRAPHY : The treasury of lives

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