Second Guru Viking Interview on Ngakpa: Definitions, Vows, and Tantric ‘Magic’

File:Guru padmasambhava statue.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

(A photo from the building of the statue of Guru Rinpoche, the ‘original ngakpa’, on Samdruptse hill in Namchi, Sikkim. The statue is 135 feet tall and is said to be the largest statue of Guru Rinpoche currently in existence. More here)

Just a quick post to let everyone know that my second interview with Steve James of the ‘Guru Viking’ podcast is now up. In this one I talked (as usual, a lot), about definitions of ngakpa (sngags pa, སྔགས་པ), or Tibetan Buddhist tantric yogi householders, and their social roles. We also skimmed the surface of the broad lake of the topic of samaya or tantric vows, ngakpas’ hair, clothing and comportment, and the siddhi, or the spiritual acommplishments or powers that are thought to come from their dedicated practice of tantric yogic disciplines.

Here’s Steve’s breakdown of the episode, along with the YouTube video, and a link to the various places the interview can be found:

“In this episode I am once again joined by Dr Ben Joffe, anthropologist and scholar practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism.

This episode i the second part of a series in which we explore Ben’s PhD dissertation on the ngakpa of the Himalayas, or as Ben calls them ‘wizards and socially engaged yogis’.

In the previous episode, we met the scholar, exploring Ben’s life as well as looking at his research methodology.

In this episode we begin by defining the ngakpa, both in terms of traditional definitions as well as how the ngakpa exist and function today.

We explore the various tantric vows associated with the highest yoga tantra yidam empowerments, including common misinterpretations about samaya, and how hair and clothing styles are often used as on outer expression of inner or secret principles.

We look at how ngakpa develop their magical powers (siddhi), why they have often been viewed with suspicion by the religious and state authorities, and finally Ben recounts a story of a magical duel between sorcerers over local occult jurisdiction.

0:00 – Intro
1:07 – Who are the ngakpa?
23:58 – Tantric vows and the complex issue of samaya
54:22 – How ngakpa develop and use magical powers (siddhi)
1:09:18 – Ngakpa Yeshe Dorje’s magical duel with local sorcerers”


Links to other locations for the interview here:

Ep48: Dr Ben Joffe 2 – Siddhi, Samaya, and Duels of Magick