According to the Bönpo tradition, Tapihritsa was originally an ordinary person, born in Zhang-Zhung in northern Tibet, but through Dzogchen's own practice, both in terms of the state of contemplation and the Trekchö (cutting off) and visions of the clear light, which means the Thögal, he achieved realizations and full enlightenment. In general, Tapihritsa is said to be the main master in the transmission line for the Zhang-Zhung Nyan-Gyud.
He was the 25th individual master in the lineage for transmission, who came from Tönpa Shenrab and Sangwa Dupa to the divine Shen practitioner Yongsu Dagpa and then came down to his own teacher Tsepung Dawa Gyaltsen in the seventh century. All twenty-four masters in this lineage became Jalüpas or rainbow bodies of light.
After nine years practicing in a cave in the mountains of northern Tibet, he attained the enlightenment and liberation of Samsara, and thus the exemplary realization of the Rainbow Body of the Great Transition, without leaving any material traces of his physical body.
The Guru Yoga by the Zhang-Zhung Nyan-Gyud is usually performed while the practitioner Tapihritsa visualizes in the sky in front of himself, just as this master originally appeared to Gyerpungpa when he made the transmissions for the Dzogchen teachings and experiences in the meditation of the earlier masters in the line revealed. Through this visualization process, the practitioner creates a sacred space and a sacred time, repeating the archetypal acts of Gyerpungpa when he requested and received the first transmissions from his own enlightened master.
How should one do this practice? After finding a quiet place where one is not disturbed, the practitioner should first cultivate intense faith and ardent devotion to the Guru and his teachings. One would think that one actually sits in the immediate physical presence of Tapihritsa, who in turn is identical to one's own personal root master or Tsawe Lama. This is the Master or Spiritual Teacher with whom one has had a close karmic connection over many past lives and gives one the most important initiations and explanations of the teachings in this life, including the direct introduction to one's mind.
Praying with great faith and ardent devotion, one asks for help and guidance by the way the short and fast path to enlightenment is revealed, which is Dzogchen. With this feeling of faith, reverence, devotion, and intimacy, the recitation of the invocation turns the mind toward the clear visualization of Tapihritsa in the open heaven in front of itself. You feel his current presence. One unconditionally opens the heart entirely in the mind of complete trust in Him. The blessings of Guru Tapihritsa are like the light of the sun, they are shed impartially on all.
But to enjoy the joy of the warm sun, you must first take a step out of the dense, cool darkness of the cave, which is your own limited selfish existence and ego awareness. This attitude of total dedication, openness and surrender in the context of guru-yoga practice cannot be emphasized enough. Because this emotional intensity is much more than the intellectual understanding that cheers and updates the practice of guru yoga, so that the realizations become more concrete, effective and lively. This is not a mere intellectual exercise, because it embodies an intimate personal relationship. And as Master Jigmed Lingpa has said, Guru Yoga is only effective when your skin is tingling and your hair is standing on end.