Shangtönpa was born in Ra family at Kongya in Shang, and could read and write fluently by the time he was eight years old. Shangtöpa felt no desire or greed and felt great revulsion for Samsara while developing passion and faith in the lamas and the three jewels. Shangtonpa was free of any laziness and was ordained as a novice monk before the abbot Nyitokpa and the teacher Tsulshe at the age of thirteen. He studied engaging in the Bodhisattva's Path and the Prajnaparamita with his teachers Ba and Shakya Shangtonpa Bumpa and presented new commentaries on both of these texts. His teachers congratulated him and advised him to teach them. He was renown all over Central and Western Tibet as Tonpa Sangwa [Excellent Teacher] because of his intelligence he naturally understood the complete text by just reading the first line of the topic of a text.
He received many teachings from Karmapa including the Three Bodies pointing-Out Instructions. Shangtonpa received the Lamdre teachings of the Sakya tradition from Lama Genmo Lhepa. Shangtopa developed supernatural faculties, gave birth to definitive understanding and sustained pure Samadhi. Shangtönpa completed one hundred million mantras, and through the power of his practice he had the ability to purify all disease and evil sprits. Still Shangtonpa thought that those abilities do not really benefit beings so he approached the realized Lama Sangye Tonpa and receive additional empowerments and teachings. Sangye Tonpa proceeded to grant him the general empowerments of Dream Yoga, Illusory Body Yoga, the complete instructions for the Six Yoga's of Niguma, including teachings on the path of Means. Shangtonpa was able to master the practice of Path of Means within seven days and mastered all of the other practices within a short span of time. His practice was greater than Sangye Tonpa in achieving the essential meaning of the instructions. Shangtopa was the finest heart son-disciple of Sangye Tonpa in the one-to-one guru-to-disciple transmission? Many spiritual friends came to his retreat for teaching and he granted them the Six Yoga's of Niguma, Mahamudra Reliquary, Mind Deathlessness and so on. Shangtonpa died at the age of seventy-six.