Nyingma (Red Sect) and its Characteristics
Nyingma means “ancient” and “old” in Tibetan language. “Ancient” means that its doctrine was passed down from the 8th century BC while “old” refers to its creeds of the ancient Tobu. Around the 8th and 9th centuries, the Esoteric Sect spread into Tibet from India; while Bon Religion had been exerting a great influence on Tibetans. Since these two religions shared some common characteristics as being mysterious, they merged gradually. This sect has a loose organization and focuses on mantra practice. It does not have systematic doctrines and complete ranking system among monks. Nyingmapa lamas respected Indian Buddhism as their origin, absorbed their doctrine, built monasteries and finally became an independent sect. Because its lamas wear red robes and caps, it is also known as the Red Sect.
The legendary figure of Nyingma Sect-Sakyaqiongnai
SakyaQionglai, head of the Triple Shu Masters of Nyingma Sect, was born in the Water Tiger Year in Tibetan calendar (about 1002BC). When he was at home, he strictly followed the Buddhist commandments and was called Dashuer due to lack of son. SakyaQionglai used to study the old Tanric Buddhism with many superior masters and integrated them into the daily practices, thus able to teach his own disciples systematically. He summed up the old teaching of the Tantric Buddhism into his new doctrines，which constituted the cornerstone of Nyingma Sect. He believed that the mind is pure and that by cultivating one’s being in such a way as to reject all outside influence, it is possible to become as one with Buddha.
ShakyaQiongnai used to learn Tantrism from the mastering Translator Zuomi. Zuomi always charged his students plenty of gold as tuition fee. Zuomi said to him: “Please pay me some gold for tuition which will go to my master Zhida.” ShakyaQiongnai was pleased to accept this requirement and asked his own followers to seek gold mine without delay. “There is a billabong in the neighborhood where you can find the gold bestowed by God”, he said to these followers. “Bear in mind, however, that you can take all the gold you have found before you get an animal-shaped ingot.” The gold seekers took their masters warnings seriously and everything turned out to be precisely the same as what he had projected. They consequently got one bag of gold and stopped the exploration when they came to a piece that resembled a fog. He offered 100 taels of gold to Zuomi and learned the “incredible” secret in return.
When ShakyaQiongnai was in good fortune, a couple called Nirinana and Yongzhongzhaxi planned to hold a Buddhist ceremony. They convened the villagers and people from the neighborhood and made an enquiry:” Which Buddhist Master do you think to be the most virtuous?” However people differed in their nominations: some selected the Mi Friar, some voted for the Chijie Dignitary and others recommended Bon Master. The hostess finally said: “Well, in this case we may invite all the three since we have sufficient funding and wealth.” Therefore the three outstanding masters all showed up in the ceremony. They arrived at an agreement this time that above all a temple should be built in an effort to spread the Buddhist beliefs. They thus started to work on the blueprint of a grand temple. The Mi Friar insisted that the statue of the Buddha's warrior attendant Shacui（Also called Courageous and Knowledgeable Attendant , name for the Mi Sect Bodhisattva . He holds a pestle in his right hand up to his chest and a ring in his left hand down to his left thigh. His body is as white as the bright moon in the sky. Sometimes his body is also painted green gold in color）be erected; the Chijie Dignitary, however, argued that the statue of Sakyamuni should be set up and Bon Master proposed that the Master Xinrao （He was deemed to be living in the same age of Sakyamuni and born in Weimolongren of the Tibetan County Zhada, Tibet. He was worshipped as the creator of Bon Religion.）should be built. As a result of the disagreement, three temples were built respectively.
SakyaQiongnai built the Zuopu Temple and afterwards he began his preaching and teaching for Nyingma Sect in this temple and the Temple of Wubalong. He boasted a large number of disciples, among whom, 108 were believed to be able to cultivate independently.
The four most distinguished disciples, called the FOUR Summit Disciples (including SakyaQiongnai’s adopted son Xiaoshuer.), were Xiraozhaba, Muyajunzha of the Wannazhe Temple, Xiangguoqiongwa of the Resha Temple and Shanggongxiraojiabo of the Cuoli Temple.