lamchen gyalpo rinpoche
In Tibetan culture family connections are of such great importance, that even Tibetans with little or no education can name their relatives for generations back. Even more careful documentation of family lineage takes place when the person is a tulku. A tulku is considered to be a human being who takes deliberate rebirth in order that they might bring the blessings of the Buddha Dharma to all sentient beings. It is not surprising therefore that Gyalpo Rinpoche’s family lineage can be traced back for many centuries. Since such an extensive explanation is beyond our needs here, we will begin Gyalpo Rinpoche’s biography with the life of his previous incarnation, Chogtul Trinley Gyatso, commonly known as Lama Phurga (1883-1938).
Lama Phurga lived in Kham, Tibet and was loved and respected by all who knew him. He was renowned for his complete devotion to the Dharma. He was so devoted to the Drikung Kagyu that at three different times during his lifetime he offered all his worldly possessions to the previous incarnation of H. E. Garchen Rinpoche, Garchen Trinley Yongkyab. Lama Phurga was a very sought after doctor and was known for his ability to see into a persons past, present and future lives.
When Lama Phurga died the search for his reincarnation began in earnest with the submission of candidates names to His Holiness the 34th Drikung Kyabgon, Shiwai Lodro. After contemplation, His Holiness replied that the new tulku of Lama Phurga would be born of a father whose name would contain the Tibetan letter "da" and a mother whose name would contain the word "yung." When attendants appealed to His Holiness for more clarity, His Holiness wrote down the Zodiac signs and the birth years of both the parents and the zodiac sign of the new tulku.
To help in locating the reincarnation of Lama Phurga, His Holiness the 16th Karmapa also went into meditation looking for a vision that would point to the correct young boy. His meditation resulted in a prophetic vision that the tulku would be born in the Earth Hare year to a mother named Tashi Yungden.
His Eminence Tai Situ Pema Wangchen, also in meditation at the time sent word to Gyalpo Rinpoche’s father, Behu Trigyal, the ruler of the kingdom of Drong, that his oldest son would serve sentient beings through teaching the Buddhadharma. This was not welcome news to Behu Trigyal as he had plans for his eldest son (Gyalpo Rinpoche) to succeed him and take charge of his temporal responsibilities in the Drong Kingdom. As much as Behu Trigyal disagreed though, all signs pointed to Gyalpo Rinpoche as being the true incarnation of the late Lama Phurga.
After consideration of all the prophecies, and a reluctant agreement of Behu Trigyal to offer his son to the monastery, Gyalpo Rinpoche was acknowledged as the new incarnation of Chogtul Trinley Gyatso, the late Lama Phurga. He was enthroned at Lo Lungkar Gon Monastery in Kham and given the Dharma name Tulku Konchog Tenzin Sharling Migyur Rinchen Dorje Namgyal.
As a young tulku, Gyalpo Rinpoche was blessed to assume his Dharma activities during an age when the teachings flourished in Tibet. As such he was able to receive transmissions and empowerments from the great masters of all Tibetan Buddhist lineages. A small sample of the transmissions and empowerments that he received were the treasure teachings and empowerments of Kagyed, Gongdu, and Kilaya. He also received the complete teachings from such enlightened masters as Druwang Drubpon Gejung Rinpoche, Lo Bongtrul Konchog Tenzin Drodul, Driter Osel Dorje, Chogtul Thubten Nyingpo, and Ontul Choeying Rangdrol.
The direct explanation of texts and oral teachings handed down from teacher to student from generation to generation is known as a transmission. While many Dharma practioners can receive teachings and empowerments only a select few are considered worthy to receive transmissions from their teachers.
There are several different types of transmissions: the Karma transmission, a long transmission where the teachings are passed from the teacher to the student; the Sign Transmission, a transmission between knowledge holders and the Oral transmission, the oral recitation of a perfectly recited text creating an unbroken chain from the time of the origination of the text.
There is also an additional transmission called the Terma Transmission. Termas are revealed “treasure” teachings written down and deliberately hidden for the benefit of future generations. When the time is right for their use, they are discovered and recovered from their hiding places by a Terton, a practitioner whose karma it is to recover these precious hidden teachings.
During retreats with his teachers Gyalpo Rinpoche received all these types of transmissions from his teachers combined with extensive teachings and direct experiential insight.
The list of teachers and lineages from which Gyalpo Rinpoche received these blessings is abundant and diverse. From the famous Drikung Kagyu teaching masters Gelong Pachung Rinpoche and Druwang Kyunga Rinpoche he received core teachings on Mahamudra along with the transfer of profound experiential insight. Understanding that receiving the teachings is only the first step, Gyalpo Rinpoche practiced each teaching without error from the beginning to the completion stage. Thus he was able to be a complete repository for the blessings and teachings of the Lord Buddha and a true vehicle for freeing sentient beings from the grip of Samsara.
From His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, Gyalpo Rinpoche received both the profound teachings of Mahamudra, and the Tsig-chigma practice of His Holiness the 3rd Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje. From Situ Pema Wangchuk Rinpoche, he received several empowerments combined with teachings, commentaries and experiential insight. From Zigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Gyalpo Rinpoche received the Rinchen Terzod teachings and empowerments, combined with oral commentaries and the transfer of experiential insight for all the Yidam deities.
From Ripa Seljey Rinpoche of the Barom Kagyu lineage, Gyalpo Rinpoche received empowerments and teachings specific to the Barom Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism. From the Nyingmapa lineage Rinpoche’s teachers included Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche from whom he was blessed to receive the general transmission of and insight into all the Nyingmapa tantras and sadhanas with a special emphasis on the Dzogchen Nyingthik Yabshi teachings. The Dzogchen Nyingthik is a sacred series of treasures from the lineage of the great Dzogchen Khenpo Nyoshul Lungtok Tenpai Nyima. Nyoshul Rinpoche was considered the most enlightened student of the great Patrul Rinpoche. It is said that when Nyoshul Rinpoche died at the age 72, arched rainbows lights arched overhead accompanied with many other phenomenon considered to be the auspicious signs of the passing of an enlightened master.
From the enlightened masters Poli Khenchen Dorje Chang, Nyoshul Khenpo Jampa Dorje and Khenpo Tauten Rinpoche, Gyalpo Rinpoche received multiple aspects of Dzogchen empowerments, teachings and direct oral pith instructions. Direct oral pith instructions are teachings from an enlightened master directly to the student and are divided into four cycles; Outer, Inner, Esoteric and Innermost Esoteric Cycle. Rinpoche’s studies focused on the Lengthen Nyingthik teachings, considered the Innermost Essence of the Innermost Esoteric cycle.
From the former head of the Drukpa Kagyu lineage, the Gyalwang Drukpa Thamche Kyenpa, and Yogi Rigzin, Gyalpo Rinpoche received the complete introduction to the essence of Mahamudra and the Great Perfection. He also was given essential Drukpa teachings with special emphasis on Doha. Dohas are mystical teachings, usually given in the form of poems and songs. They contain profound teachings such as the wisdom of direct awakening.
From Jigdral Khyentse Rinpoche, Gyalpo Rinpoche received teachings on Gampopa's answers to Phagmo Drupa's questions.
From Taklung Shabdrung Rinpoche and Matul Rinpoche, Gyalpo Rinpoche received the Chakrasamvara Khandro Gyatso teachings along with other cycles of teachings of the Taklung Kagyu School.
From their Holinesses Sakya Dolma Phodrang, Sakya Phuntsog Phodrang, Luding Rinpoche, and Chogye Trichen, Gyalpo Rinpoche was blessed to receive Sakyapa empowerments and teachings of particularly Hevajra, Vajravarahi and Vajra Bhairava.
From his root guru, who is considered to be the lifeline of all Buddhist practioners, Khunu Rinpoche Tenzin Gyaltsen, Gyalpo Rinpoche received the pure, unadulterated teachings of the core of Mahamudra and the Great Perfection with special emphasis on Trigchod and Thogal.
Gyalpo Rinpoche received the teachings of all the above profound masters and practiced them all from the preliminary stages to the arising and completion stages, punctuated with retreats and propitiation of deities which included three Major retreats and Yidam Propitiations.
After escaping from Tibet, Gyalpo Rinpoche served the Tibetan Government in Exile for 11 years as Senior Secretary to the Kashag and later as Executive Manager of Tibetan Self-Help Handicraft Center in Simla, India. Towards the end of his 11 years' service, Gyalpo Rinpoche was asked by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Rinpoche to join him at Jangchubling, the seat of the Drikung Kagyu in Dehra Dun, India. Because of his unending devotion to His Holiness and his wish to serve the Drikung Kagyu in whatever way he could, Gyalpo Rinpoche resigned from the Tibetan government service and traveled to Dehra Dun.
While with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Rinpoche, Gyalpo Rinpoche served as his Private Secretary and General Secretary of Drikung Kagyu Institute (Jangchubling) during the time of founding and registering of the Institute. He obtained funds to begin building the monastery and has been a contributor throughout the various stages of building the seat of the Drikung Kagyu tradition in exile.
In a successful effort to reach out to Drikung Kaygu practitioners and monastics, Gyalpo Rinpoche toured every Drikung monastery from Eastern Tibet to Mt. Kailash. He also assisted His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Rinpoche to compile and record the history of the Drikung Kagyu tradition. Responding to the needs of other lineages, Gyalpo Rinpoche established the Seat of Dorje Drag - the lifeline of the Nyingmapa Tradition - in Simla, India.
Today, Gyalpo Rinpoche works tirelessly, without regard to his personal health or comfort, to bring to fruition the rebuilding of the Drikung monasteries, the establishment of schools for Tibetan Nomad children, and the founding of modern hospitals and community health programs in Kham. Rinpoche has several active Dharma centers in the United States, the main one being in Denville, New Jersey. He also has active Dharma centers in Taiwan. Since his Dharma activities are so diverse, he spends much of his time traveling to his various centers, nurturing and guiding his students to a better understanding of the teachings of the Lord Buddha, the Drikung Kagyu, and how to apply those teachings to improve the day to day quality of their lives, and the lives of those around them. A pure lama is hard to find and each of his students realized that they hold a jewel in their hands and they pray continually for his good health and success in all his Dharma activities.