Arya Kshema Spring Dharma Teachings: 17th Gyalwang Karmapa on the 8thKarmapa Mikyo Dorje’s Autobiographical Verses
March 28, 2022
Taking adversity as the path in post-meditation:
3) Taking speech as the path
On the fifth day of the Arya Kshema Spring Teachings, His Holiness began by explaining he would speak about the thirteenth good deed, starting at the section Taking adversity as the path in post-meditation. The section has ten sub-topics and he would begin with the third sub-topic: “taking speech as the path”:
To bring benefit and happiness to everyone throughout space,
I spoke kind words distinguishing what to do and what to reject.
How could I ever, in any situation, say harsh words
That would make myself and others circle in confusion?
I think of this as one of my good deeds. (13)
The Karmapa explained that this is what is meant by ‘noble speech’. Many people say that they are dharma practitioners or lamas and that their primary responsibility is to open the eyes of all sentient beings to what should be done and what should not be done. That means becoming aware of what is appropriate: what counts as a virtuous deed and what counts as a non-virtuous deed. We should be someone who can teach or show what needs to be taken up and what needs to be given up.
There are many people called lamas or dharma practitioners whose conduct of body, speech and mind does not appear in the Vinaya of the three vehicles. It is not found in the sutras either and contradicts the Abhidharma. It transgresses the three baskets of the Buddha’s teachings and is not in accord with the teachings. When their faults are discovered, they use guile or deceit; if they lack qualities, they pretend they have them; if they have faults, they hide them. They even explain their faults as qualities. What is more, they imagine that there is a great purpose in accomplishing pointless acts and consider the harm they bring themselves and others to be greatly beneficial.
In summary, they are shrouded in the darkness of ignorance. They are completely mistaken as to what to do and what to give up in this and future lives. They are given prestigious names such as “Lama” or “Rinpoche” or “dharma practitioner” and pretend to be that way. It is not only that they are lying, but they also like it when similar people appear. They hope they will be of mutual benefit to each other, bringing more fame by praising each other and saying, “Your conduct of body, speech, and mind accords with the Vinaya. You have mastered bodhichitta. You have great aspects of liberation of the secret mantra. Your view is broad and vast, and your meditation experiences are stable. You are the most generous and have very strong intelligence,” they say, deluding and fooling each other.
If someone tries to point out that their conduct contradicts the scriptures, their reply is that the person hasn’t understood the scriptures, properly: “The teachings of the Buddha are expedient things that need interpretation”. Thus, they are able to twist the Buddha’s words in many different ways and stretch them so that they fit whatever they want to do.
Another argument they use is that during these degenerate times we cannot put the Buddha’s words into practice. Consequently, for all our studies and practices, we should primarily follow the guru’s pith instructions. “There are many such gurus,” His Holiness observed. They then lead all their followers down the wrong path, deceiving many people.
However, Mikyö Dorje never intended to deceive others. He realised that when others taught false dharma, they were leading people down a mistaken path that would not lead to liberation and omniscience. Thus, there is no wrong speech more severe than the lies of teaching incorrect dharma.
Thus, when Mikyӧ Dorje was teaching the Dharma to those whose capacity for higher states and true excellence (i.e., liberation) was awakened—those who could understand it— he taught in accordance with the Dharma. If they had the appropriate capacity, he would teach according to the scriptures, primarily using the stainless words of the Buddha and explaining them to the people. However, for those who would not understand the words that matched the scriptures, he taught the Dharma through funny stories about brief experiences, sayings and stories, pointing out their faults in ways they could understand. By speaking in an ordinary way, he would thus give them some understanding of the Dharma.
Mikyӧ Dorje only had the pure intention to help all beings, whether they were of great or low status, wishing for their benefit and lasting happiness. He had unsullied, stainless, pure intentions. No matter whether it was in terms of dharma or worldly affairs, he would say exactly what he thought directly to the person; if there were a fault, he would say so, if there were a quality, he would acknowledge it.
Because Mikyӧ Dorje was very direct and pointed out peoples’ faults and qualities, not only in terms of the Dharma but also in terms of worldly ways, he was “like the Buddha right before your nose”. Many people immediately recognised their faults to be faults, stopped doing negative actions and began doing good actions. Moreover, they cast away inauthentic teachers and their teachings and conduct and gave them up. They understood the characteristics of individuals and the dharma as they were, and learned the crucial points of progressing and not progressing down the path of dharma. Because of that, people developed certainty in their minds, saw the reasons and developed such wisdom so that they subsequently could not be deceived by false teachers or led down the wrong path.
Mikyӧ Dorje never held anything back when he taught or gave advice. Because of his direct teaching style, there were people who had faith in him and developed the eye of prajna or wisdom - the ability to distinguish what should be done and what should be avoided. From the bottom of their hearts, they thought that Mikyӧ Dorje had great compassion for beings, always wanting to help them, and opening peoples’ eyes as to what is Dharma and what is not. The way he did this was considered amazing “like the great being, the Sakya Pandita.”
Some people, on the other hand, were controlled by the “eight worldly dharmas’. These included people such as gurus, lords, politicians, rinpoches and deceptive monastics. They were prejudiced, resentful people, who pretended to be good, who were called scholars but who quoted words superficially, were arrogant and meddlesome practitioners, seemingly honest but in fact just shameless with bad habits. Some people were called by the name “dharma practitioner” or “yogi” but were actually just weak and incompetent. In brief, there were many people who had no wish for liberation from samsara.
They had much to say about this incarnation of the Karmapas: “He talks a lot but looks down on everyone else. He only tries to bring everyone down. In particular, he is always criticising and reprimanding people, in particular those with faith in the Dharma, trying to eliminate their faith.” The reason for this, they claimed, was that Mikyӧ Dorje would make exaggerations about the Dharma and individuals of the Dakpo and Shangpa Kagyu, Sakya, Geluk, Nyingma, Chöd lineages and so forth, having objections to all these schools and criticising them. Many contemporaries of Mikyӧ Dorje implied that his objections and criticisms of other schools were groundless and could lead to the karma of rejecting dharma.
His Holiness continued that he was sure that, given Mikyӧ Dorje’s character, when he spoke, it was always appropriately for the Dharma. To say that someone who practices the Dharma properly has the “karma of rejecting dharma,” is the same as what is said in the Prajnaparamita in Hundred Thousand Lines: “No matter how much fools criticise an irreversible bodhisattva and dharma teacher, the more they are criticised, the more the practice of the irreversible bodhisattva increases.”
Likewise, it also says that some fools and those who do not know the main points will say, “This is not the dharma; this is not the Vinaya. This is not the Buddha’s teachings. “It predicts that many such people will appear in the future, His Holiness continued, but the more they criticise and denigrate the bodhisattvas, the more the bodhisattva’s courage and diligence will only increase.
The reason why some people criticise great beings is that when authentic gurus and great beings are teaching the Dharma in a proper manner, it points out the hidden faults of those who are unable to practice the Dharma, and they feel embarrassed. Out of their attachment, they develop aversion to the bodhisattvas; they begin to view them as enemies. His Holiness stated that this is what is called “The mara of the divine child”. We should be careful of such people. And it is not the case that so-called maras are external, frightening beings with a dark complexion and horns on their head. We should not have that kind of limited way of thinking. Maras prevent us from achieving liberation and omniscience and are mostly the people around us. They are the ones who are the most dangerous, such as our parents and siblings. It is also possible for maras to be among people around us who practice the Dharma, people whom you believe, whom you love or like and think are good. “I am not saying they are bad people, but they don’t have any autonomy because they are controlled by their afflictions, so they are controlled by the mara and thus cause harm to other people. It’s like the mara has remote control,” His Holiness stated.
Another important point is that of all the Karmapas, it is the Second Karmapa Karma Pakshi who has the most collected works, said to be as voluminous as the Kangyur, comprising more than a hundred volumes. This is recorded in the histories, but many are no longer extant. Changzoe Lodrö Tashi, the junior steward at Tsurphu Monastery, said that in the old days the works of Karma Pakshi reached from floor to ceiling in the library at Tsurphu monastery, before it was torn down during the cultural revolution. These days, His Holiness was not sure if even ten of those volumes remain.
In terms of volume of collected works, the one after Karma Pakshi is Mikyö Dorje. From the time he was young, he wrote many amazing treatises and doha. He wrote many commentaries on the sutras. Particularly, around the age of twenty, he wrote a commentary on the Vinaya sutras; when he was twenty-three, he composed a great commentary on the Prajnaparamita, the Rest for the Yogis; a commentary on Kalapa’s Sanskrit grammar; at the age of twenty-six, he wrote the long commentary on the Vinaya sutras; at the age of twenty-seven, he wrote a long commentary on the Abhidharma; and later, also, the commentary on Mahayana and the Chöd practice. In terms of the Tantras, he composed many commentaries, as well as mandala rituals and sadhanas, and many instructions that teach the main points of the practice of the Mahayana. In brief, when we look at the collected works of Mikyӧ Dorje, there are over twenty thick volumes. His Holiness recalled that when he was in Tibet, he found a few of the huge volumes of Mikyӧ Dorje’s works, so heavy that one person could hardly carry them.
When one thinks about his poetry, his poetic style falls into the category Difficult Ornaments. The texts on poetry have three different types of ornament: the Difficult Ornament is very complex. From a starting point, It can be read forwards and backwards, from the beginning to the end, or the other way around. This poetic form was very difficult to write, which shows how skilled Mikyӧ Dorje was.
There are so many volumes in his collected works that they are great in quantity but also in terms of their content. Later commentators used texts by earlier commentators as their models, whereas Mikyӧ Dorje never merely followed the words of earlier scholars. In terms of supporting texts that he used, he carried out a lot of his own profound research. In particular, in his great commentaries on the Middle Way, Prajnaparamita, Vinaya, and Abhidharma, we find great explanations on difficult points and general discussions that are complete and perfect, bringing out the essential points of their particular philosophy.
These commentaries on the great texts are the common jewels of not just the Karma Kamtsang but of all the Dakpo Kagyu schools. His commentaries on the great texts are like the representatives of the great commentaries on these five texts. Many senior geshes have told His Holiness that Mikyӧ Dorje’s commentaries on Abhidharma and Vinaya in particular are often used as supplementary reading in the Gelukpa monastic colleges.
The Nyingma Controversy and Mikyö Dorje’s The Seeds of Honesty
After the break, His Holiness introduced his main topic for the day, one of Mikyö Dorje’s shorter texts: Presenting the Origins of the Undisputed Teacher and Teachings: Responses to Some Objections Regarding the Ancient Translation Secret Mantra.
The Karmapa began by explaining the content of this text is a refutation of a claim made that the Nyingma Secret Mantra tradition was not true Buddhadharma. In this text, Mikyӧ Dorje uses objections and responses in order to prove that this claim was wrong, and that the dharma of the Nyingma Secret Mantra is real Buddhadharma.
His Holiness showed photos of two old manuscripts of Responses to Some Objections. The upper one, from the library of Drepung monastery, had the word ’out’ written on it. His Holiness explained how this showed that it was a text which did not originate in the monastery. During the time of the Fifth Dalai Lama, the Mongol armies under Gushri Khan attacked the Kagyu monasteries in Kongpo and sacked the “Black Treasure” at Tse Lagang monastery. Many of the texts found there were brought to Drepung monastery near Lhasa. At Drepung, they were catalogued. These are very ancient manuscripts, over three hundred and sixty years old.
Why had His Holiness found it necessary to introduce this work, Responses to Objections, which is also called The Seeds of Honesty, in particular among all of Mikyö Dorje’s works? Firstly, it has a particular connection with today’s topic and, secondly, this work has had a considerable influence on later scholars.
Before looking more closely into this text, however, His Holiness considered it to be important first of all to understand Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s character. Because only by understanding his character could one understand the connection between his works and his way of thought, and its particular qualities.
Generally, his character was to be blunt and direct. He said directly whatever he thought without holding anything back; he said it immediately and did not think whether the other person would like it or feel hurt by it. In his writings, he would make many refutations of earlier and contemporary scholars, no matter who they were, if there was something that he thought was not logical.
If one is not familiar with his work, one might think that he was a lama who had a strong sectarian bias, but in actuality, that only shows being unfamiliar with Mikyö Dorje’s character. For example, if he thought the words did not accord with the intention of a particular text, he would even refute the gurus of his own tradition, other than his root guru, Sangye Nyenpa. He made refutations against his teachers Karma Trinleypa and Dulmo Tashi Öser. He also refuted many other well-known Kagyu lamas such as the Fourth Shamar Chökyi Drakpa and his teacher Gölok Shönnu Pal, and those with a great affinity for the Karmapa and strong connections to previous Karmapas such as Panchen Shakya Chokden. From this it is evident that Mikyö Dorje had no sectarian attachment towards his own lineage. His primary focus was whether a text matched its intention or not, and if he thought there were reason to, he would cite quotations from his own works. In brief, when he was commenting on texts and the Buddha’s words, he considered the dharma to be far more important than the individual.
Mikyö Dorje raised many objections to Sakya Pandita, Dolpopa, Bodong Panchen, Je Tsongkhapa, and other great Tibetan scholars. The primary purpose was to point out what was reasonable and what was not, in the way scholars do: it was not a question of worldly like or dislike. This can be known from Mikyö Dorje’s own text, Praise of the Five Great Beings Who Spread the Treatises in Tibet. In this praise, he mentions Bodongpa, Dolpopa and Lord Tsongkhapa, and praises all of them. Thus, there was no issue of unilateral objection to someone in a worldly way. Looking at the Collected Songs, we can see Mikyö Dorje’s character. He had faith in the great Tibetan lamas of the past and did not see them as enemies or opponents; he was not sectarian. Mikyö Dorje raised objections to many Sakya lamas and also refuted masters of the Gelug tradition, such as Lord Tsongkhapa, whose view of the Middle Way he disputed. But what is curious is that later it was not generally said that “Mikyö Dorje objected to the Sakya”, “Mikyö Dorje objected to the Geluk”, “Mikyö Dorje made many refutations”. Instead, it was frequently said that Mikyö Dorje made refutations of the Nyingma.
His Holiness then explained the historical context which led to this incorrect view.
Around the time when Mikyö Dorje was forty-six—just two years before he passed away —there was an incident that occurred. A letter criticising and objecting to the Nyingma Tantra tradition circulated through all areas of Ütsang, and it was purported to have been written by Mikyö Dorje. Consequently, this became a basis for many people to criticise him.
“Did Mikyö Dorje write these refutations of the Nyingma or not? If he did, why did he refute them? If not, how did such a letter come to be?” His Holiness asked.
We need to examine the Seeds of Honesty. First, we need to look at the opening of the text. It reads:
Because of my name “Karmapa,” someone has written a fake refutation of false mantra as if it had been written by a “Tibetan Mikyö Dorje.” I do not understand the name or purpose of whatever individual has done this, but this has caused many people in Ü-tsang to view us with hatred as people who chatter out of wrong views and say many insulting words. In order to prevent such misdeeds from increasing, I shall speak to this.
Thus, Mikyö Dorje states clearly that this refutation of the Nyingma was written by an unknown person who pretended to be him and stole his name.
He goes on to highlight inaccuracies in the letter which suggest it is bogus:
In the letter, all of the words from “Written by the Karmapa in Nyemo from conversations with Tedro Lama Dzogchenpa…” to “during the Tibetan month of the Year of the Rat. May it be virtuous!” seem to be completely false. From the manner in which it is mistaken, if we combine the letter with some notes, this is easy to understand.
When I was staying in Nyemo in the Male Year of the Wood Rat, there was no one known as the Tedro Lama Dzogchenpa. Therefore, to write “conversations with” him seems to be a slanderous lie.
He agrees that he was in Nyemo during that time, but there was no such person as the Dzogchen Lama at Tedro at that time, so the claim that this is a record of conversations with that lama is a slanderous lie.
His Holiness suggested that the “Male Year of the Wood Rat” is a copying error, because there was no such year during Mikyö Dorje’s lifetime. Thus, he had concluded that this year of the Rat must have been the year of the Water Rat, when Mikyö Dorje was forty-six. The Feast for Scholars records that he wrote the Response to Objections Called the Seeds of Honesty in the Water Ox year of the ninth cycle, and that must have been some time after the objections to the Nyingma appeared. Thus, the objections to the Nyingma must have been written in the Water Rat Year [1552 CE] when Mikyö Dorje was forty-six. He then passed away two years later in the Wood Horse Year of the tenth cycle [1554 CE].
It seems, the Karmapa said, that somebody out of jealousy wished to harm Mikyö Dorje, which is suggested in the colophon:
To those who cause harm in many ways
From motivations of great hatred, attachment, and jealousy,
I join my palms and make this request:
Whatever you people think,
We give up the crazy, unbearable ways of acting and thinking
towards our mothers for temporary pleasures and wealth.
You kind and loving mothers,
Have looked on your children lovingly from beginningless time.
Without interrupting the actions of loving-kindness and compassion,
Please always care for all beings throughout space without bias
In the short and long term with benefit and happiness.
This was written by Jamyang Shepa, who was blessed by the title Karmapa in upper retreat Namkha Dzong of Dra Jampa Ling. The scribe was Karma Trinley Jikme De. I dedicate this so that all beings may enter the teachings of the undisputed teacher the Lion of the Shakya and achieve the state of the Dharma Lord Great Sage.
He also mentions the place where he composed this text as well as the person who was with him to actually write it down; this was Karma Trinley Jikme De. There were several Karma Trinleys. There was Lama Karma Trinley from whom Mikyö Dorje studied the philosophical texts. He had studied first in the Sakya tradition before becoming a student of the Seventh Karmapa Chodrak Gyatso and was very influential in spreading the Kagyu tradition. Then, two of Mikyo Dorje’s students were called Karma Trinley: Sonam Trinzin who was at Tsurphu Monastery, and Karma Trinley Jigme Dewa, who was the amanuensis for this text. He was very skilled in poetry, skilled in Vajrayana rituals and praised by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama
That Mikyö Dorje did not write the tract against the Nyingma is shown clearly in the Seeds of Honesty but also validated by his students. In Pawo Tsuglak Trengwa’s biography of him in the Feast for Scholars it says:
He was invited to Jampa Ling, where Yar Gyapa made offerings with devotion. Now at that time, there was a letter slandering the Nyingma Tantra that had taken Mikyö Dorje’s name in its colophon, and as that was completely disrespectful of the Nyingma, he wrote The Seeds of Honesty, a response to it and examination of its authorship.
So, it was when Mikyö Dorje was staying at Jampa Ling, that this letter, seemingly written by Mikyö Dorje, began to circulate.
Pawo Tsuglak Trengwa reiterated this in his Treatise Purifying Wrong Views, which he wrote when he was 53. The text states that the writer of the letter had borrowed the name of Mikyö Dorje. The letter had caused all those who had faith in the Nyingma Tantra to lose faith in Mikyö Dorje, and that was the reason he had written the lengthy response, The Seeds of Honesty.
In particular, a letter borrowing the name of the hope for all beings of the degenerate age, my own supreme refuge whose name is difficult to pronounce, Mikyö Dorje, appeared due to the power of the Maras, upsetting all those with faith in the Nyingma Tantra and spreading faithlessness. The exalted refuge himself wrote The Seeds of Honesty, a long response. It is remarkable, so read it in there.
Mikyö Dorje’s principal student was the Fifth Shamar Könchok Yenlak who compiled A Catalog of the Complete Works of Karmapa Mikyö Dorje. This catalog lists the complete title of the refutation as The Seeds of Honesty: Presenting the Undisputed Origins of the Teacher and Teachings: Responses to Some Objections Regarding the Ancient Translation Secret Mantra.
This is further evidence that the letter of objections to the Nyingma is fake and that Mikyö Dorje wrote the refutation. Although Mikyö Dorje and his disciples protested his innocence many times, the view that Mikyö Dorje had written the letter with the objections to the Nyingma persisted. Many of his contemporaries and those who came after him, primarily those of the Ancient Nyingma tradition, took it as a given that these objections were written by Mikyö Dorje, and made various responses, both polite and strident.
Why did this situation arise? His Holiness suggested that one reason was that scholars probably did not see the Response to Objections by Mikyö Dorje, in which he said very clearly that he had not written the letter and it was a fake.
Alternatively, scholars saw the letter objecting to the Nyingma Tantra as an opportunity to show off their own scholarly skills, or as a way to clarify the teachings of the Nyingma. Mikyö Dorje was a well-known lama at the time so to refute his writings would bring kudos.
Alternatively, they may have seen the Response to Objections but pretended not to have and wrote their response.
To know the events clearly, we would need to compare how many similarities and dissimilarities there are between the responses to the objections by Mikyö Dorje and by other scholars and to research whether it was taken as a model or not. Unless we do such research, there is no way we can know.
Next, His Holiness discussed how the earlier and later Nyingma masters responded to the objections in the letter that was seemingly written by Mikyö Dorje and how they responded:
The first master was Tulku Natsok Rangdrol, a great scholar and meditator, who, in the Wood Ox Year of the 9th cycle [1555 CE], the year that Mikyö Dorje passed away, wrote a text called The Luminous Dharma Expanse: A Response to Questions Posed by the Gyalwang Karmapa in an Official Letter. He takes it for granted that Mikyö Dorje was the author of Objections to the Nyingma.
Three years after Mikyö Dorje passed away, Yakde Dulzin Khyenrab Gyatso wrote A String of Jewels: Responses to Questions on the Origins of the Buddha Dharma, which gives answers to each of the 26 objections in the letter and responds to them in depth. This text became a source for the history of the Nyingma dharma, and Kyabje Düdjom Rinpoche cited many passages from it when he composed his own Dharma History. Guru Tashi in his dharma history wrote:
At one point in the past, I did see a Nyingma Dharma history known as the “Yakde Dharma History” said to be written by Dulzin Khyenrap Gyatso, but I have not obtained it at this time.
One major difference between Yakde’s response to the objections and others’ responses is that he rejects the view that the objections to the Nyingma were written by Mikyö Dorje. As he writes:
In the words of the emanation of the Buddha Lion’s Roar; the invincible master of the tenth level, and lord of the Buddha’s teachings named Pal Chödrup Gyatlso Chok Tamche Le Nampar Gyalway Mikyö Sangpo Dorje Gaway Yang, he instituted a tradition including all the Buddha’s teachings and spread and propagated the teachings of the Sakya, Kagyu, and Nyingma schools in all ways in all directions. He was indivisible from the wisdom expanse of Padmasambhava. But someone with a sectarian motivation wrote a fake letter with misconceptions about the teachings of the Kagyu and Nyingma. Tedro Dzogchenpa was taken as the target in this text disputing the tantras, practice, samaya substances, and so forth of the Ancient Translation school, and I have written this String of Jewels: A History of the Buddha’s Teachings because of seeing it.
Likewise, the person who encouraged Yakde to write the response to the objections was actually a disciple of Mikyö Dorje, the khenpo of Tsok Gendun Gang, Panchen Ngawang Kunga Chöjor. He said that the letter refuting the Nyingma was not a letter by Mikyö Dorje and that because of it many people were accumulating the karma of rejecting the dharma, so he should write a dharma history response to objections to clarify the teachings of the Kagyu and Nyingma.
Similarly, Yargyap Pönchen Kunga Sönam Gyalpo also encouraged him to write a dharma history with response to the questions that would benefit the teachings in general and specific, and that would be pleasing to Mikyö Dorje. When we look at these, it seems he believed the letter objecting to the Nyingma was not written by Mikyö Dorje. So, at that time, people who knew Mikyö Dorje and who had actual connections with him, did not believe he was the author of this letter criticising the Nyingma.
Twenty-two years after Mikyö Dorje passed away, Sokdokpa Lodroe Gyaltsen wrote The Thunder of Scripture and Logic: A Response to Gyalwang Karmapa Mikyö Dorje’s Letter Questioning the Nyingma Secret Mantra
He gives responses to the objections to the Nyingma from beginning to end, on the assumption that Mikyö Dorje had written the letter in order to help the Nyingma by encouraging them to engage in listening, contemplation and meditation:
In the omniscient Gyalwang Mikyö Dorje’s letter about conversations with Tildro Lama Dzogchenpa, there are several figurative citations from scripture. In the letter written at Neudong Tser, it is saying, “These days here in the north of Uru, the Terton Changlochen and other emanations of maras…” On seeing such words, I wonder how much warmth there is in the view and thought? Such a manner of questioning are questions eliminating and uprooting all doubts about the Nyingma posed in a deep, vast way that is difficult to fathom. They were given to inspire Nyingmas to put effort into listening, contemplating and meditating. If we completely integrate them into our being, we will determine all the difficult points of the Nyingma Secret Mantra.
Sokdokpa Lodroe Gyaltsen also wrote that he had seen three responses to the objections before he wrote his own, but that those responses were pointless because they had failed to understand Mikyö Dorje’s intention in writing the objections and had resorted to sarcasm to denigrate Mikyö Dorje.
At the beginning of the 17th century, there is a text of the Liberation Story of Tsarchen Losal Gyatso, written by the Fifth Dalai Lama, which seems to suggest that Tsarchen Losal did not have much faith in Mikyö Dorje because the latter was fickle, sometimes objecting to the Nyingma and sometimes saying they are good, and also behaved strangely at time as if unstable and not in his right mind. So the Fifth Dalai Lama took for granted that Mikyö Dorje had written the letter of objections to the Nyingma.
And from the Fifth Dalai Lama’s Record of Teachings:
Karmapa Rangjung Dorje’s instructions on the Outer Cycle of Ati in verse seems to have produced an amazing experience of imprints awakened by Ngenlam Gyalwa Choking. It is not at all like the Mikyö Dorje said to be his reincarnation.
He praises the Third Karmapa, calls him omniscient and cites the nying-thik cycle in verse that he had written, which shows that he was an emanation of Ngenlam Gyalwa Choking. The Dalai Lama goes on to imply that the dissimilarity between the two means that Mikyö Dorje could not possibly be his reincarnation.
In the 18th century, The Crystal Mirror of Philosophical Schools by Tuuken Chökyi Nyima wrote:
In particular, Khukpa Lhaytse and Drikung Paladin present many proofs that the Nyingma is not pure dharma, and Shakya Chokden and Karmapa Mikyö Dorje also follow their lead.
He presumes that Mikyö Dorje had written the objection to Nyingma.
In the 19th century, Guru Tashi wrote a dharma history of the Nyingma Secret Mantra entitled The Ocean of Amazing Stories that Delight the Wise which is usually called the Gutay Dharma History. It reads:
The Eighth Karmapa studied the Tanak Practice Cycle from Gyaltsap Tashi Namgyal and practiced them, and he also wrote a sadhana combining the eight Karmapas, eight Shangs, and eight forms of Guru Rinpoche. He described (as above) how it was a school of pure perception. This master investigated the Nyingma, and intending to refute some small-minded people, he wrote his own response Seeds of Honesty to prove that it is pure dharma.
He writes as if both the objections to the Nyingma and the repudiation Seeds of Honesty were by Mikyö Dorje.
Also in the 19th century, Dzogchen Khenpo Padma Vajra wrote the First Dawn of Scripture and Logic: A Response to Objections to the Ancient Translation Nyingma Literature. In a section titled Questions from the doubt of not realising by Mikyö Dorje, he explains that Mikyö Dorje did not realise the nature and had doubts, he asked questions of the Ancient Translation Nyingma, and Sokdokpa responded.
In Jamgön Mipham Namgyal’s String of Vajra Jewels: A Supplementary Examination of Natural Mind from his Three Cycles on Natural Mind, he gives responses to the objections in three questions about the topic of “Liberation through Investigation”. He writes:
Unable to prove your own tradition which upholds the Shentong school, when you see the Ornament of Nagarjuna’s Thought, you vanish like dew on grass. Whatever you do, as a superior tulku who is pleased to consider a school that says that the various inconsistent states promoting the Consequentialist school to be a true school, is fine.
He says, that Mikyo Dorje originally upheld the Shentong view, but then was unable to defend his own tradition, so was forced to abandon the Shentong view and take up the Consequentialist school view instead. But, as a superior tulku he was free to do what he wanted! Basically, Jamgön Mipham was being sarcastic and the object of his sarcasm seems to be Mikyö Dorje, though he doesn’t actually specify a name. However, the Karmapa explained, Third Karmapa Rangjung Dorje and the Seventh Karmapa Chödrak Gyatso primarily explained the view in a Shentong manner, while the Eighth Karmapa explained it from the Rangtong or Consequentialist perspective.
In Mikyö Dorje’s collected works, there is the Dialogue with Gyatön Jadralwa, in which Mikyö Dorje is accused of destroying an image of Guru Rinpoche:
Did you destroy the talons and fangs on the Wrathful Guru made by Tertön Sangye Lingpa?” In response, “That was already cracked and broken. Only later, when we restored Tse Lhagang (monastery), did I hear that it had been broken.
Such events show how people believed that he was biased against the Nyingma and criticised him continually.
Though the basis for the Practice Lineage of the Karma Kamtsang is the Kagyu, our Dharma protectors such as Bernakchen and Palden Lhamo, Damchen and Shingkyong come from the Nyingma tradition. Later, it was frequently said within the Kamtsang that Mikyö Dorje had objected to the Nyingma. Consequently, there were very many, such as Karma Shenpen Wangpo, the reincarnation of Pal Khang Lotsawa, who said that many of our ancestral practices were Nyingma and viewed them like filth.
If this is the situation even within the Kamtsang, then it is totally understandable that people from other schools wouldn’t know the actual situation, the Karmapa concluded.