Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche was a famous lama from Drepung Loseling Monastery, who left Tibet for India during the time of the Cultural Revolution in China. In the year before Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche was due to graduate from his Geshe degree studies, he started making plans for the customary offerings to the Sangha, which he would make during his graduation. As he was low on funds, he had to think of ways to save money. One of the ways that he could think of was to return to his home region of Kham for a year. This would give him time to save money and then resume his studies in Lhasa.
One morning however, before he could put his plans into action, during the early hours of dawn, between 5am to 6am, a protector appeared before him in a dream. The protector advised him not to worry about the funds but instead to continue with his studies. Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche was also advised by the protector that he will help with his monetary requirements. The protector then said to Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche: “I am Dorje Tsenchen.”
When Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche awoke, he was puzzled and was not sure of the identity of the protector that he dreamt of because there are literally hundreds of protectors with “Dorje” in their name. He then assumed that it must have been Dorje Drakden who appeared to him. Dorje Drakden, more commonly referred to as Nechung, is one of Drepung Loseling’s Dharma protectors, hence Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche’s conclusion. Trehor Gyurpon felt sure it was Nechung who had appeared to him in the dream because who else could it be?
Some 15 days later, when Nechung took trance of an oracle, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche went to seek confirmation from the oracle that it was indeed Nechung who appeared to him in the dream. At the trance however, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche was told by Dorje Drakden that it was not him and that there are many protectors with names starting with “Dorje”. This puzzled Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche even more.
Some time later, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche went to the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa to perform his circumambulations. While there, he met some friends from Lhokpa Khangtsen who were very busy and frantically preparing for something. He enquired as to the nature of their haste, and they told him that they were rushing to Trode Khangsar, the Dorje Shugden chapel, because Dorje Shugden was taking trance. They invited Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche to join them for the trance, to which he agreed.
Back then, the trances of Dorje Shugden were monthly affairs. The trance sessions were very scheduled and routine. For example, the trance would ALWAYS start at 7pm and Dorje Shugden would ALWAYS leave the oracle by 8pm. However, on this particular occasion, Dorje Shugden had not left long after he was due to leave, despite the fact that all the questions had already been answered. Dorje Shugden seemed to be waiting for something or someone. This puzzled the monks from Trode Khangsar and they began to ask each other “What’s going on? Why hasn’t Dorje Shugden left yet?”
At this point, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche and his friends arrived at the door, and started to offer three prostrations before entering. Dorje Shugden immediately said, “No need to prostrate, I waited a long time for you. You (pointing to Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche), come here.”
Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche followed instructions and approached Dorje Shugden’s throne. He seized the opportunity to ask Dorje Shugden if it was Dorje Shugden who appeared in his dream. Dorje Shugden affirmed with a “Yes”, saying that it was him in Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche’s dream.
Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche then felt very grateful and inquired as to how he could thank Dorje Shugden for helping him. Dorje Shugden replied, “Study Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s texts, especially those on the Middle Way. You have a lot of doubts. You must continue to study. Don’t go home. Your main problem is not money. Your main problem is doubt. When you have doubts, ask me. I’ll answer you.” Upon hearing this, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche relaxed.
Over the following month, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche did indeed encounter many doubts in his studies, just as Dorje Shugden had predicted. As Dorje Shugden had advised, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche wrote down his questions as he went along but had doubts that Dorje Shugden would be able to answer them. Before the next trance, he then decided to replace the very difficult questions with easier ones.
At the next trance, Dorje Shugden scanned the questions quickly and asked Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche why the main question, the question that Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche had the biggest doubts about, was not included. Dorje Shugden told him that on a specific page and line in Panchen Sonam Drakpa’s text, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche had a huge doubt about the teaching presented. So, Dorje Shugden wanted to know, why was the question not put forward to him? Upon hearing that, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche immediately developed tremendous faith in Dorje Shugden and offered three prostrations.
Over the years, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche had many debates with Dorje Shugden during trance sessions. At first, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche felt uncomfortable debating with Dorje Shugden but Dorje Shugden ‘forced’ Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche into debate, to help Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche progress by answering his questions.
As a result, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche had very close relationship with the Trode Khangsar oracle. Years later while in exile in India, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche came across a Dorje Shugden oracle based in Assam. Hoping to rekindle the same kind of relationship he had with the Trode Khangsar oracle, and to check the authenticity of the Assam oracle, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche asked a simple question: “What is a bhumpa?” The answer seemed easy enough – a ritual vase – but what Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche really wanted was for the Dorje Shugden oracle to read the answer in Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche’s mind. The oracle gave a vague answer: “It is interdependence.” After that incident, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche felt that he could not trust the oracle and never went back.
Later, when the ban on the practice of Dorje Shugden was imposed and practitioners were required to give up their practice, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche appeared to have conceded and publicly ceased the practice. However, when Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche entered Clear Light, his attendants found a bag on him. In this bag was a Dorje Shugden ladö, the heart crystal given to those who have received the Dorje Shugden sogtae or life entrustment initiation. It was kept together with a picture. It thus transpired that despite outer appearances, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche had kept his faith in Dorje Shugden and had kept Dorje Shugden close to him. Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche had been practicing Dorje Shugden secretly despite the ban on the practice, holding his faith in the protector until the end of his physical form.
The story of Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche’s achievements during his lifetime are incredible and goes to show just how closely the Dharma protector Dorje Shugden aids sincere practitioners in their spiritual lives. Just like a scholar of the highest caliber who became skilled through the attainment of the teachings (and not just rote learning), Dorje Shugden personally assisted Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche to overcome doubt in the teachings and excel in his studies, without the worry of material needs. Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche’s unwavering faith in Dorje Shugden, due to his clairvoyance and abilities as a Dharma teacher, led him to practice Dorje Shugden in secret, keeping the sacred commitments made when he received the life entrustment initiation. Despite the ban on Dorje Shugden, Trehor Gyurpon Rinpoche continued his practice, show great devotion and faith. His story is inspiring example of what it means to be a spiritual practitioner with integrity and perseverance.