Great terton, enlightened yogin, the representative of Padmasambhava whose past lives include Sariputra, Saraha and Dudjom Lingpa; Dzogchen master, prolific author and meticulous scholar; he wrote more than 23 volumes of gong-ter and treatises, including his monumental "Fundamentals and History of the Nyingmapas."
Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche was born on June 10, 1904, into a noble family in the southeastern Tibetan province of Pemako, one of the four "hidden lands" of Guru Rinpoche. He was of royal Tsenpo lineage, descended from Nyatri Tsenpo and from Puwo Kanam Dhepa, the king of Powo. His father Kathok Tulku Norbu Tenzing, was a famous tulku of the Pemako region from Kathok Monastery. His mother, who had descended from Ratna Lingpa and belonged to the local member of the Pemako tribe, was called Namgyal Drolma. Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche has always been specially connected with the Kathok Monastery, as can be seen from his previous incarnations : his ninth manifestation was Dampa Dayshek (A.D. 1122-1192) who founded the Kathok Monastery, and his fifteenth manifestation was Sonam Detsen who was responsible for the revitalization of the Kathok Monastery.
He was recognized as the incarnation of Dudjom Lingpa (A.D. 1835-1904), a famous discoverer of many concealed teachings or "treasures" (Terma), particularly those related to the practice of Vajrakilaya (Dorje Phurba). It had been Dudjom Lingpa's intention to visit southern Tibet to reveal the sacred land of Pemako, but being unable to do so, he predicted that his successor would be born there and reveal it himself. Za-Pokhung Tulku Gyurme Ngedon Wangpo, who was a holder of the teachings of Dudjom Lingpa, and Lama Thubten Chonjor of Ling came to Pemako and enthroned him. Gradually the disciples of the previous Dudjom came and paid their respects to him.
He began his studies with Khenpo Aten in Pemako, absorbing such texts and commentaries as the Dom Sum (Three Precepts), Chod Juk, and many others. At the age of five he began discovering Ter (hidden treasures, mind transmissions), and at eight began to study Santideva's "Bodhicaryavatara" with Lama Urygen Chogyur Gyatso, a personal disciple of the great Patrul Rinpoche (A.D.1808-1887). He studied for 16 years with Tulku Gyurme Ngedon and had great realizations with the Dzogchen teachings. From Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro, who regarded Dudjom as his heart son, he received the tantric teachings (Gyud, Lung, and Men-Ngag) of the "Sangwa Nyingthig." From Jedrung Thinley Jampai Jungne (Dudjom Namkhai Dorje) of Riwoche, he received the "Kangyur" lung, "Dam Ngag Dzod," the 17 "Sangchen Ngepe" tantras, "Nyingthig Yabshi," as well as all the Dzogchen teachings. From Tulku Kunzang Thekchog Tenpai Gyaltsan, he also received many deep and important teachings. From Ngagtsun Gendun Gyatso, Rinpoche received all the teachings of Pema Lingpa, the "Dzod Dun" (the Seven Treasures of Longchenpa, 1308-1363), among many others. From the great Khenpo Jamde, Pande Odzer (disciple of Jamgon Mipham Rinpoche), Rinpoche received the "Nyingma Kama," "Kagyed" empowerments, Sangye Lingpa's "Lama Gongdu" and "Sangwa Nyingpo" according to the Zur tradition; as well as the cycle of the "Osel Sangwa Nyingthig." He also received many tantra commentaries like the great commentaries of Mipham himself, the "Nyingthig Yabshi," and so on. Rinpoche considered Khenpo Jamde as his second kindest Lama and took many vows of Pratimoksha, of Bodhisattva, and of Vajrayana from him.
There were many other great teachers from whom Rinpoche had received all the teachings of the Nyingma School. From Togden Tenpa, he received both the wang and lung of the "Dzogchen Nyingthig Yabshi," which was the lineage of the great Khenpo Nyoshul Lungtok Tenpai Nyima. He also received teachings from the great beings who were disciples of the great Khenpo Nyoshul Lungtok Tenpai Nyima: Khenpo Ngawang Palzang, Chadral Sangye Dorje, Lama Urgyen Rigdzin, Kathok Chagtsa Tulku, Pulung Sangye Tulku, and Gyurme Phendei Ozer, among others. He received teachings from them and he also gave teachings to them. Dudjom Rinpoche attended the great monastic universities of Central Tibet, such as Mindroling, Dorje Drak and Tarje Tingpoling, as well as those of East Tibet, like Kathok and Dzogchen. It was to Mindroling that he returned to perfect his understanding of the Nyingma tradition. Thus from the Mindroling Vajracarya, Dorzim Namdrol Gyatso, he learned the rituals, mandalas, songs, dance and music of Terdak Lingpa, along with many other teachings. He possessed an encyclopedic knowledge of all traditional branches of learning, including poetry, history, medicine, astrology and philosophy. Recognized by the highest lamas as possessing great blessing power in communicating the nature of mind. Key figure in the cultural revival among post-invasion Tibetan refugees.
Dudjom Rinpoche's main area of activity was in Central Tibet, where he maintained the Mindroling tradition, and especially at Pema Choling and his other seats in the Kongpo and Powo regions of southern Tibet. In Pemako, Rinpoche established many new monasteries and two colleges for both Gelong (ordained monks) and Ngagpa (yogis). In the Kongpo region, he reconstructed the Thadul Buchu Lhakhang, and close to it he built anew the monastery of Zangdok Palri. He also erected anew the tantric centre of Lama Ling. Dudjom Rinpoche became renowned throughout Tibet for the brilliance of his spiritual achievements, for his compassionate Bodhisattva activities, as well as for his unsurpassed scholarship. In 1958, as Tibet fell to the Chinese, he took his family Kalimpong, India, where they remained until moving to Kathmandu, Nepal in 1975. When the Tibetan culture was at a difficult time, Rinpoche played a key role in its renaissance among the refugee community, both through his teachings and his writings. He established a number of vital communities of practitioners in India and Nepal. At Tsopema (Rewalsar), he established a retreat centre; at Darjeeling, Rinpoche established Tsechu Gompa; in Orissa, he founded Dudul Rabten Ling; and in Kalimpong, Rinpoche founded Zangdok Palri Monastery. Near the Great Stupa at Boudhanath, Nepal, Rinpoche erected the Dudjom Gompa. He also actively encouraged the study of the Nyingma tradition at the Tibetan Institute for Higher Studies in Sarnath, assigning as its director Khenpo Palden Sherab Rinpoche. With his disciples (among them Palden Sherab, Tsewang Dongyal, Sogyal, and Gyatrul rinpoches), he established the sangha in Europe and North America. He founded many Dharma centres in the West, including Dorje Nyingpo and Orgyen Samye Choling in France; Yeshe Nyingpo (Gyatrul Rinpoche); Padmasambhava Buddhist Centers (Khenpo rinpoches Palden Sherab and Tsewang Dongyal); and Orgyen Cho Dzong in the United States. Over the last one-and-a-half-decades of his life, Dudjom Rinpoche devoted much of his time to teaching in the West where he has successfully established the Nyingma tradition. In his first world-wide tour in 1972, Dudjom Rinpoche visited the centre of his Chinese spiritual representative Lama Sonam Chokyi Gyaltsan in Hong Kong, and also visited London at the invitation of Ven. Sogyal Rinpoche. He died January 17, 1987.
Dudjom Rinpoche's Spreading of the Dharma
Unique in having received the transmission of all the existing teachings of the immensely rich Nyingma tradition, Dudjom Rinpoche was famous in particular as a great Terton (treasure revealer), whose Termas are now widely taught and practiced, and as the leading exponent of Dzogchen. Indeed, he was regarded as the living embodiment of Guru Rinpoche and His representative in this time. A master of masters, he was acknowledged by the leading Tibetan Lamas as possessing the greatest power and blessing in communicating the nature of mind, and it was to him that they sent their students when prepared for this "Mind-direct" transmission. Dudjom Rinpoche was the teacher of many of the most prominent lamas active today. As his teachers had prophesized, Rinpoche gave the "Rinchen Terdzod" ("Treasury of Precious Termas") ten times, Pema Lingpa's "Pedling Cho Kor" three times, the "Kangyur" and "Nyingma Gyudbum", the Drupwang of "Kagyed", "Jatson Podruk", the complete empowerment and transmission of the "Nyingma Kama", as well as teachings according to his own Terma ("Dudjom Tersar") tradition, and innumerable other important teachings.
Dudjom Rinpoche's Great Realizations
Taking his practice very seriously, Dudjom Rinpoche went to a secret place called Kenpa Jong (or Phuntsok Gatsel), and accomplished the Dorje Phurba of "Dudjom Namchag Pudri". At Buddha Tse Phuk, Rinpoche did Tse-Drup and his Tse-chang boiled. He further received the auspicious signs when he was practicing the gongter of Dudul Drollo. When in Paro Tak-Tshang (the Tiger's Nest), Dudjom Rinpoche rediscovered the "Pudri Rekpung", the "Tsokye Thugthig" and the "Khandro Thugthig", for which he wrote down the main parts. In short, in all these important holy places where he practiced, Rinpoche always experienced the signs of accomplishment.
Dudjom Rinpoche's Writings
Dudjom Rinpoche was world famous as a very prolific author and a scholar. His writings are celebrated for the encyclopaedic knowledge they display of all the traditional branches of Buddhist learning, including poetics, history, medicine, astrology and philosophy. A writer of inspirational poetry of compelling beauty, he had a special genius for expressing the meaning and realization of Dzogchen with a crystal-like lucidity. His "Collected Works" (Sungbum), numbering twenty-five volumes, did not include his complete output. Among the most widely read of his works are the "Fundamentals of the Buddhist Teachings" and "History of the Nyingma School", which he composed soon after his arrival in India. These works have now been translated into English by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein and published by Wisdom Publications, while his Chinese spiritual representative Lama Sonam Chokyi Gyaltsan (Guru Lau Yui-che), with the help of Ming-chu Tulku, had also translated it into Chinese and published by the Secret Vehicle Publications in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Another important and major part of his work was the revision, correction and editing of many ancient and modern texts, including the 58 volumes of the whole of the Canonical Teachings of the Nyingma School ("Nyingma Kama"), a venture which he began at the age of 74, just as Jamgon Kongtrul had collected the Terma teachings.His own private library contains the largest collection of precious manuscripts and books outside of Tibet.
Khunu Rinpoche (1894-198?)
Kunu Rinpoche is said to have been an extraordinary, realized saint, a living master of Dzogchen meditation, who even the Dalai Lama went to for instruction. Khenchen Palden Sherab continued his professorial duties throughout the university term, but each year once school was out, he would go forth to live as a wandering yogi, meditating in caves and temples in the Himalayas and throughout India, traveling with Kunu Rinpoche's small band of disciples. Thus his life proceeded, until His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, the head of the Nyingma school of Tibet, asked him to act as chief abbot (khanchen) for his organization in America. This service Khenchen Palden Sherab performed up until Dudjom Rinpoche's death. Since that time Venerable Khanchen Palden Sherab has worked unstintingly to organize and teach those students which have come to him and who now form a nationwide body known as the Padmasambhava Buddhist Center.
Tenzin Gyaltsen was born the second of three sons to Ka lan pur and Norki in 1894 or early 1895 in the village of Shunam in the Rupa region of Kinnaur, or Khu nu (as the local people call it), on the Indo-Tibetan border. His village lay in a relatively prosperous farming region, 2,000 to 2,500 meters above sea level, surrounded by mountains as high as 6,500 meters and drained by the upper reaches of the Sutlej River. The valleys in this region are extremely beautiful, covered with thick forests of mountain pine giving way at lower levels to orchards of apple and apricot trees fringing fields of mountain barley. Though not a rich area in the modern sense, its economy easily supported a traditional way of life that was based on the Tibetan Buddhism of south central Asia and strongly influenced by the accommodating syncretism of the north Indian plains people to the south.
Amongst his own people, Tenzin Gyaltsen is better known by the honorific names Khunu Rinpoche (precious one from Kinnaur) and Negi Lama. Negi is a clan or caste name used by almost all the people of Kinnaur except metal workers and weavers, and is said to derive from a term of respect given in earlier times to officials at the court at Rampur, an important town on the Sutlej River. In the case of Negi Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen, Negi refers as well to his personal family name (Ne gi pang), which means the guru from the Negi family, or the guru from the people of the Negi caste. As a sign of respect, and following the customs of his own people, I refer to him as Khunu Rinpoche, or Rinpoche for short.
Khunu Rinpoche had a spontaneous kindness that extended to all equally, regardless of their sect, religion, or nationality. He saw the great hardship of Tibetan refugees arriving in north India in 1959. He saw that these Tibetans, who had admitted him to schools, taught him, and given him work, were now dazed by the loss of their country and their way of life, often nearly destitute, with little but the clothes on their backs. Khunu Rinpoche felt for these refugees deeply. He taught many of them, among them the Fourteenth Dalai Lama. These students would, in later years, refer back to that time and recall the kindness that Khunu Rinpoche embodied. In addition to teaching the refugees through personal kindness and example, Khunu Rinpoche went to Mussoorie at the Dalai Lamas request to instruct the Tibetan refugees in grammar and poetry, remaining there for nearly a year. It was through this work in particular that Khunu Rinpoche became well known to the Tibetan refugees in India.
Among the countless stories that illustrate Khunu Rinpoches disinterested yet active meditative kindness is one of an American woman, Tubten Pemo, who met Khunu Rinpoche some years before his death in the mid-1970s in Kathmandu, Nepal. She and a number of other foreigners who had gone to Nepal to study Buddhism asked Rinpoche if there was anything he needed that they could supply. He said, No. I have all I need because I have bodhicitta, and the next day, he sent an offering of one rupee (the equivalent of three or four cents) to each of the foreign students.
-taken from the introduction to Vast as the Heavens, Deep as the Sea, translated by Gareth Sparham
Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse 1910-1991
His Holiness, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was an accomplished poet, scholar, philosopher, and teacher of the Mahayana, Mahamudra and Dzogchen traditions. He was one of the main lineage holders of the Dzogchen Longchen Nyingthig traditions and was head of the Nyingma School after the death of HH Dudjom Rinpoche in 1987.
He was born in Derge, Eastern Tibet in 1910 to a family directly descended from King Trisong Detsen. Before birth he had already been recognised as a tulku by Mipham Rinpoche amongst others. At the age of 11 he took the vows of a monk and entered Shechen Monastery in Kham. His root teacher at that time was HH Shechen Gyaltsap, who was Mipham Rinpoches successor. It was he who formally recognised and enthroned him as the mind incarnation of HH Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo (1820-92), one of the main proponents of the Rimé movement. He received from Shechen Gyalsap all the essential Nyingma empowerments and instructions.
At 15 years of age he began a series of retreats in caves and isolated huts in the mountains near his hometown.
When he became seriously ill, he was advised by his teacher to take a consort. His wife was Khandro Lhamo. During his life his visionary revelations brought Padmasambhavas essential teachings directly to us.
At the age of 28 he completed his retreats and thereafter took teachings from Dzongsar Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö who like Dilgo Khyentse was also one of the five incarnations of Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. After he received empowerments on the Rinchen Terdzo he decided to spend the rest of his life in solitary meditation. Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö had other ideas however and Dilgo Khyentse commenced a teaching career sharing the treasures he had received which was tirelessly unbroken for the rest of his life. Whatever his circumstances at the time he rose before dawn, practised for several hours and then served others directly through teaching and other activities without regard for himself until late into the night. He taught anyone who made the effort to come to him, without exception.
During the Chinese takeover of Tibet he escaped with his wife, children and followers. He took a teaching post at a school in Bhutan but rapidly his reputation grew as a fully realised master. He became the King of Bhutans personal spiritual advisor, but also travelled extensively to teach in Europe, the US and on three occasions in Tibet as well. Although a Nyingmapa he was an exponent of the Rimé movement and was well known for his ability to teach each tantric lineage from within its own tradition. Even when he was in the last year of life he went to Dharamsala to give transmissions and empowerments for a month to HHDL who regarded him as his principal Dzogchen teacher.
HHDK established dharma centres in Bhutan, India and the West. Under his direction, many students entered the traditional three year retreat. His Holiness died in Bhutan on 28th September 1991. His reincarnation, has been recognised as a boy born on Padmasambhavas birthday in 1993.
Gyatrul Rinpoche 1925-
Born in Born in the Sichuan province of China near the Tibetan border. Tibet, recognized by Jamyang Khyentse as a reincarnation of a Payul lineage meditator who spent his life in retreat , and was reinstated as Tulku of Dhomang Monastery. He was tutored by Sangye Gön, who was singled out by Dudjom Lingpa while passing through his village. Gyatrul was given complete instructions on the path of Vajrayana Budhhism in the Nyingthig tradition, as well as teachings from Lama Mipham, the New Treasures of Dorje Dechen Lingpa, the teachings of Terton Migyur Dorje and teachings from Ratna Lingpa's lineage. Spent much of his life in Tibet and escaped to India in 1959 on foot and served in India until 1972 when he came to North America at the request of Dudjom Rinpoche and the 14th Dalai Lama. In 1976, H. H. Dudjom Rinpoche appointed Gyatrul Rinpoche as his spiritual representative and Director of Pacific Region Yeshe Nyingpo. He has established several centers on the West Coast and in Mexico and continues to travel and teach thousands of students abroad and in the United States. He gave Nam Chö empowerments in Memphis, Tennessee, in March 2000. Gyatrul Rinpoche is greatly loved for his wit and humor, his ceaseless compassion, his uncanny insight and his genuine humility. His skillful teaching techniques have enabled his students to be exposed to the profound Vajrayana path in a unique and loving way. Gyatrul Rinpoche continues to teach traditional Tibetan Buddhism in a way that can be understood and accepted by all. He is a Master at providing what is necessary for the student to learn "in the moment" and is a refuge of sanity, compassion and humor in an unsettled world.
Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche 1945-
Trained in Tibet, he escaped to India with his family and taught in refugee camps for 20 years before coming to New York City at the behest of Dudjom Rinpoche in 1983. With his brother, Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche, he established Padmasambhava Buddhist Centers throughout the United States. Born in the village of Joephu in the Dhoshul region of Khampa in eastern Tibet near the sacred mountain Jowo Zegyal, Khen Paldens ancestors included many great scholars, practitioners and tertons. His family was semi-nomadic, living in the village during the winter and moving with the herds to high mountain pastures where they lived in yak hair tents during the summers. At seven, he began studying at the monastery and started ngöndro practice. Later that year, he went on his first retreat for one month. At 12, he went to Riwoche monastery, one of the oldest and largest in eastern Tibet, where he trained to be the next khenpo (abbot) for Gochen Ling (monastery). He completed his studies just as the Chinese invasion of Tibet reached that area.
Throughout the 1950s the Chinese were invading Tibet. The father, knowing Padmasambhava's predictions, felt that the time had come as Guru Rinpoche had said when Tibet would be destroyed and Tibetan lamas would be scattered all over the world turning the wheel of the Dharma. The father would relate these predictions to relatives and friends in the village repeatedly. It was also foretold that the time to leave was in the winter. The others said, "No, lets wait until the spring thaw to go." Guru Rinpoche also predicted that if ever Tibetans were fleeing Tibet, the safe haven was a land to the south called Pemako, where the mountains dropped down into tropical jungle. In 1960, Palden, now 18, was completing his studies at Riwoche just as the Chinese invasion of Tibet reached that area. Back home, the 11-year-old Tsewangs monastic instruction was about to be abruptly interrupted. Lama Chimey gathered the family together, called Palden home from the monastery. In his words:
"When the Red Chinese barbarians came to destroy the Buddha's teachings and the culture of Tibet, I decided to leave. I gave away my every last possession, offered a communal tea, and, in front of Khen Rinpoche, offered a mandala as a prayer for his long life. On the night of my departure I went to see Rinpoche to offer a last white scarf. My heart was exceedingly sad.
Don't stay here, I pleaded, please go to Pemako.
I won't be able to reach Pemako, he said. I pleaded again, but he replied in the same way. I continued to weep and plead, and he said, Okay, okay, now don't cry. I'll pray that I'll be able to get to Pemako and India. No matter what karma you meet with, don't turn your mind away from the Three Precious Jewels. Now, you know that your learning is good. Therefore you will definitely benefit both teachings and beings. Don't mess up! Keep this in your mind."
With only what belongings could be carried or packed on the yaks' backs, the family set out in the depth of winter and headed for Pemako. The hardships of the journey were extraordinary -- the Himalayas, the snow and cold, the Chinese taking their yaks, and having to hide from Chinese machine guns. Somehow, they made it to the safe land. But in Pemako the altitude dropped extremely, the water was not safe to drink, they were unaccustomed to the heat and they all became ill. The mother, two sisters, and Palden were ill for months. Palden slowly recovered. His sisters did not, and his mother died shortly after reaching India.
"It was 1961 when I arrived in India," Palden later recalled. "On the way, I had encountered great difficulties, exhaustion and danger, but I always held his (Khen Rinpoche of Riwoches) words closely in my mind."
Father and sons went on to a refugee camp for Tibetans in Northern India. Here, they would teach at refugee schools, where the work of translating sacred texts was under way. Many lamas had carried out of Tibet whatever sacred manuscripts they could. When each one had contributed what he had brought, the entire body of sacred teachings was intact. At that time the Indian government made a proposal to the United States that India print 17 copies of each Tibetan text and the United States buy them for the Library of Congress. It was agreed; India received payment, and the U.S. Library of Congress became the repository of the treasury of Tibetan manuscripts.
Palden, now known as one of Tibets foremost scholars, was was selected by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to teach and serve as Khenpo (abbot-professor) at the Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, a college attached to Varanasi Hindu University, in Sarnath, India. From 1961 until 1980, Khenpo Palden gained the reputation as one of the most highly qualified scholars and meditation masters of the Nyingma tradition, fully versed in the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana schools, and a master of Dzogchen, the most developed and advanced tradition of spiritual practice in the Nyingma tradition. He was also a writer of Tibetan language books, and is considered an expert in the study of "Transcendental Wisdom" (Prajnaparamita) scripture.
"For 17 years I taught in Varanasi at the Tibetan Institute for Higher Studies where the number of good students through whom both teachings and beings could benefitwas not small. To those Indian, Nepalese, Tibetan, and other people having faith in and connections with me, I have taught whatever Tibetan Dharma and culture I know."
It was during these years that Khen Palden began to study meditation and practice with the renowned yogi known as the "Kunu Rinpoche," or "the Precious One from Kunu Valley." Tenzin Gyaltsen, the Kunu Rinpoche, is said to have been an extraordinary, realized saint, a living master of Dzogchen meditation, from whom even the Dalai Lama sought instruction. Khanchen Palden Sherab continued his professorial duties throughout the university term, but each year once school was out, he would go forth to live as a wandering yogi, meditating in caves and temples in the Himalayas and throughout India, traveling with Kunu Rinpoche's small band of disciples.
Thus his life proceeded, until His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, the head of the Nyingma school of Tibet, asked him to act as chief abbot (Khenchen) for his organization in America. In accordance with Padmasambhava's prophecy that when "the iron bird flies and the horse goes on wheels" Buddhism will go to the west, many Tibetan lamas brought their teachings to Europe and North America. So in 1980, at the insistent invitation of Dr. Rhoda P. Lecocq, a professor from California who had received teachings from Khenpo Palden in India, the Khenpos came to the United States for a teaching visit to California.
In 1981, Khenpo Tsewang went to Paris to assume the duties of abbot at the Dorje Nyingpo Center, but a year later both brothers were called to New York to work with Dudjom Rinpoche at the Yeshe Nyingpo Center. In 1984, they began to launch their own teaching approach with His Holiness blessing, and in 1985, they founded Dharma Samudra Publishing to publish an 11-volume edition of the termas of Tsasum Lingpa in Tibetan. They remained with Dudjom Rinpoche until his death in 1987. After Dudjom Rinpoche's death, they formed the Padmasambhava Buddhist Society and began to establish Buddhist Centers around the world. The first center began in New York City, the Khenpos' home base, which was soon followed by a large retreat center, temple and library named Padma Samye Ling, in upstate New York. Until his death in March 2001, the Khenpos shared their home with their father, Lama Chimey Namgyal, affectionally known to American students as "Papa Lama." One of their early Western disciples, now a lama known as Pema Kunzang of Carmel, Calif., offers this observation:
"I have also always been impressed with Khenchen Palden Sherab's character, which is gentle, kind, unobtrusive, while at the same time authoritative. He is a most learned being, whose learning is nevertheless quite untainted by arrogance. He is a monk who completely lives up to the ideal of virtue and ethics without a trace of defilement. He radiates a kind of unassuming saintliness, which in so many ways reflects the epitome of a cultured and wise soul. I would really encourage those who are interested in Tibetan studies, Tibetan Buddhism and culture, and Tibetan meditation practice, to seek direct contact with Khenchen Rinpoche and his brother, both of whom are unique lineage holders in the old Nyingmapa mystical tradition."
The Khenpos teaching mission continues to grow; sanghas sprout up around them where ever they go. They teach together with a simple and beautiful method: Khen Rinpoche teaches in penetrating Tibetan and Khenpo Tsewang translates into English with inspired precision and wit. Their sanghas are formally called Padmasambhava Buddhist Centers, established to teach and preserve the tradition of Nyingma Buddhism, especially the mediation technique of the Higher Tantras. The practice of these profound techniques aims at removing the habits of mind obscuring the true, primordial Buddha Nature and revealing its boundless compassion. These teachings have been transmitted in an unknown lineage from master to master from that time to the present day. From 1980 on, the Khenpos have maintained a strong connection to the Native American practice through the Sunray Meditation Society and its leader, the Venerable Dhyani Wahoo. The Khenpos travel yearly to Sunray's Vermont Peacekeeper Center to give teachings and empowerments. Sunray members come to New York for special initiations and practice instructions which bears out the Native American prophecy that Buddhism and Native American practice would join their amazing forces when the Red Hat lamas came to the west.
Khenchen Palden continues his scholarly work, and a number of his writings have been published in English. These are: The Light of the Three Jewels; Prajnaparamita: The Six Perfections; Door to Inconceivable Wisdom and Compassion; Ceaseless Echoes of The Great Silence: A Commentary On The Heart Sutra; and Lions Gaze. The Khenpos also keep translation at the center of their attention. The entire cycle of the Seven Treasures of the Great Longchenpa is in the process of being translated by Khenpo Palden working in conjunction with Dr. Janet Gyatso of Amherst College and Dr. Anne Klein of Rice University.
There are now Padmasambhava Buddhist Centers in West Palm Beach and Orlando, Florida; Wilmington, Delaware; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Cookeville, Tennessee; Nashville, Tennessee; Santiago; Puerto Rico; Denver, Colorado; San Francisco, California; and in Ellsworth, Maine. They have also established a center in Moscow, Russia. Close connections and a full teaching schedule are maintained with all these centers. The Khenpos visit each center at least twice a year with one visit usually being a week's retreat. The Khenpos regularly return to Sarnath, India, to oversee the construction on the Nyingmapa College and Monastery which they founded there. These visits occur on an average of about every other year, allowing the Khenpos to teach and spend time with their father who still lives and practices in retreat in India.
Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche 1950 -
Tulku Tsewang Dongyal, Khenchen Palden's younger brother, was born June 10, 1950. Shortly after his birth the family chose to move to another village some three days travel north. But the baby became gravely ill and when the illness failed to respond to ordinary remedies, his parents took him to Jadchag monastery for a diagnosis, where the three head lamas recognized him as the reincarnation of Khenpo Sherab Khyentse, the former head abbot at Gochen and highly revered scholar of the Dhoshul region who spent most of his life in retreat. At the instruction of the Jadchag lamas, the family returned to Joephu, were Tsewang regained his health. And although Tsewang had been recognized as a tulku, the family decided not to emphasize this in his upbringing. It was not uncommon for tulkus to be raised apart from their families and to be given extraordinary treatment. At the age of five (1955), entered Gochen Ling for his formal schooling. Tsewang was home-schooled in the Indian refugee camps and entered the Nyingmapa Monastic School where he studied until 1967. He furthered his schooling at the Tibetan Institute for Higher Studies before entering Varanasi Hindu University, where he earned a B.A. in 1975. He earned another B.A. as well as an M.A. from the Nyingmapa University in West Bengal. In 1978, he was enthroned as Khenpo (abbot) by H.H. Dudjom Rinpoche and appointed head abbot of Dharma Studies at the Wishfulfilling Institute in Kathmandu, Nepal, where he taught poetry, grammar, writing, calligraphy, philosophy and psychology. He also presided at Orgyen Chokholing Monastery. Khenpo Tsewang is a published author, historian, and poet, as well as an expert in the study of ancient Tantric literature. He holds the transmission and all initiations of the Nyingma Kama and Terma lineages. In 1981, Khenpo Tsewang went to Paris to assume the duties of abbot at the Dorje Nyingpo Center, but a year later both brothers were called to New York to work with Dudjom Rinpoche at the Yeshe Nyingpo Center. After Dudjoms death in 1987, the Khenpos founded the Padmasambhava Buddhist Society.
May the sole source of benefit and happiness,
The Buddhas teachings, remain for eons,
And may the victory banner of the lives of the Noble Ones,
The holders of the teachings, remain firm.
The precious Bodhicitta;
In those without it, may it be generated;
In those who have it, may it never diminsh,
But always continue increasing!
OM AH HUM