I was born in Kham, in the Nangchen region of Eastern Tibet. When I was seven years old I receivedthe vows of Refuge from Garchen Rinpoche, and at the age of twelve I became ordained as a monk. I learnedhow to perform lama dance and pujas, and to play various musical instruments and so forth. For three years I traveled every winter with Rinpoche making the rounds to over 15 or so different towns to hold greataccomplishment practices, or drubchens. During the summers we would stay in retreat at the monastery inGargon. Not long after that I had the great fortune of traveling with my kind root lama, Garchen Rinpoche to Amdo, where I met another extraordinary and highly realized lama, the Revered Dzogchen master Khenpo Munsel. From this great master I was able to receive instructions on trekchod and togyal, as well as direct pointing out instructions on the nature of mind. I also received teachings on the practices of refuge, the four thoughts that turn the mind and so on from many of the great Khenpos who were staying there with Khenpo Munsel. From these experiences I found that my mind had been deeply transformed. And I realized that to be monk without an authentic understanding of the Dharma would be of no real benefit, that without developing the mind through study, contemplation, and meditation, merely reciting mantras and going through the motions of ritual, it is difficult to accomplish oneís own benefit, let alone the benefit of others. Not only that, but to sustain and nurture the recognition of mindís essence one has to meditate. And in order to grasp the profound meaning of the practices based on the pith instructions it is important to develop certainty with respect to the meaning of the teachings on The Middle Way.
Prior to my experience with Khenpo Munsel I had faith and devotion, but I was lacking understanding. Now I knew that my practice of the Dharma had been based on blind faith, so from this point on I became especially interested in the study of Buddhist philosophy, and particularly the topics of Buddhist logic, reasoning, and the teachings of The Middle Way. I came to understand that through study and contemplation there arises a faith thatís based on reason.
The main objective of Buddhism is to reach the state of liberation and complete omniscience, and the path that accomplishes that objective is the conduct of love and compassion, and bodhicitta, together with the view of emptiness and karmic interdependence. I felt determined to apply myself to the practice of study, contemplation, and meditation.
But at that time the Chinese government began to tighten its hold on the Tibetan people and they were starting to place many restrictions on the local monasteries. They made a new rule that no monks under the age of eighteen were allowed to stay at the monastery. So I went home to live with my family for some time.
Later I heard about the great qualities of the master Khenpo Jigme Puntsok, and I gave rise to a strong longing to meet him. So before long I set out on a challenging journey alone to Khenpo Jigme Puntsokís monastery in Amdo, hoping I would finally be able to devote myself to study, contemplation, and meditation. It was a far distance away and at that time in Tibet the condition of the roads was very bad, so there were very few people traveling that way. It ended up taking me over a month to get there. When I arrived I found that I was much younger than most of the monks and I had great difficulty understanding and communicating because my dialect was so different. There was practically nobody there from my region at that time so I was quite alone and without any friends. There are plenty of amusing stories I could tell from those times, but I wonít get into those here.
I was however able to meet with Khenpo Jigme Puntsok and I received many pith instructions, empowerments and teachings. I also was able to receive teachings on almost all of the Twelve Great Scriptures from his main student Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro. I stayed at Khenpo Jigme Puntsokís for more than four years. During that time I was also able to visit the great yogi Khenpo Chokyab who resided nearby. It wouldnít be an exaggeration to say that his level of realization was comparable to that of Milarepa. From him, I was also very blessed to receive many pith instructions and clarifications on the meaning of texts.
The number of monks who flocked to receive teachings at the feet of Khenpo Jigpe Puntsok had been steadily growing by the hundreds, and the Chinese were becoming nervous. So before long they began to impose restrictions on the numbers of people permitted to gather there. Once again I returned to my village where my father started a small school and I worked as a teacher of reading and writing and giving Dharma teachings at the local monastery. My own studies however still were not over. Later I would go on to study for four years at Dzogsar Shedra and then went on to Kagyu College where I received a graduate degree and taught for five years.
Given the oppressive atmosphere in Tibet due to the control of the Chinese I escaped to India,crossing the Himalayas by foot. When I reached the Noble land of India I was able to meet and receive theblessings of H.H. the Dalai Lama and H.H. Chetsang Rinpoche.
VENERABLE Tsunma Rinzin Khando
Tsunma Rinzin Khando is a meditation instructor with extensive experience in solitary retreat. In 2007 His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche chose her as one of two Drikung Kagyu nuns to come to the United States. In addition, His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche has expressed his full confidence in Tsunma and her ability to help western students on the path of dharma.
As a young woman, Tsunma studied chants, prayers, religious instruments and torma making. Ani Rinzin received transmissions and initiations of several Drikung teachings and she also received the commentary on the "Bodhisattva's Way of Life" from the late Khenpo Konchok Namgyal.
When Ani Rinzin came to Drikung Kagyu Nunnery at Dehra Dun she studied religious texts, Tibetan language and grammar. She and one other nun were sent by the head of the Drikung Lineage, His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, to His Eminence Bokar Rinpoche to study the Six Yogas of Niguma. His Eminence Bokar Rinpoche was a great teacher of Shangpa Kagyu School and passed away a few years ago. The Six Yogas of Niguma consists of Dream Yoga practices, Clear Light practices, Phowa, the Bardo Teachings, Illusory Body teachings, and Tummo (Inner Heat). The lineage of this teaching was from the great Master Naropa, who gave this secret teaching to his consort Niguma. The ultimate purpose of these teachings and their practice, like other teachings, is two-fold: to know that the nature of all phenomena to be of empty self and of an illusory nature and the need of developing compassion for all sentient beings. Daily transmission and commentary was given on this special teaching, which took one month and fifteen days.
In the spring of 2001 Ani Rinzin went with another nun to Lapchi, Nepal to undertake three years and three months retreat on the Six Yogas of Naropa. The retreat master was Dondrup Palden Rinpoche, a highly skilled practitioner who had been in retreat for many years. He is currently the Retreat Master at Lapchi.
In early 2005 Ani Rinzin went into retreat on a second session of the Six Yogas of Naropa. In November 2006 Ani Rinzin attended the ten day teachings of the Seven Limb Prayer by His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche at Jangchubling Monastery.
In January of 2010, Tsunma Rinzin Khando became the meditaiton instructor for Gar Drolma Buddhist Center in Dayton, Ohio.
VenERABLE KONCHOG Thubten Nima
At Drikung Thil, Lama Thubten Nima studied with the very venerable Drupon Tenzin Nyima and received some of the most profound teachings of the Drikung Kagyu linage, including the Fivefold Mahamudra and the Six Yogas [of Naropa]. He studied the Gong Chig (Single Intention), Essence of Mahayana, The Bodhisattva Way of Life, and the Thirty-Seven Bodhisattva Practices with Drikung Khenpo Namzig. Under the elder Drikung Chantmaster Konchok Samten, he trained in the ritual practices of Chakrasamvara, Varahi, the Yangzab, Sarvavid and Akshobhya. Lama Thubten Nima also received empowerment, teachings and pith instruction on the Yamantaka practice from the great Yanga Rinpoche.
Lama Bunima was born in 1963 in Gargon village in Tibet to a nomadic family. He had sincere devotion to the Dharma from the age of 8, and at 16 he met His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche, who came to Gargon for a brief visit. When Rinpoche returned for a second visit two years later, Lama Bunima received the refuge vows from His Eminence and great devotion arose. With this devotion and great faith, he completed the ngondro practice while still living as a nomad. He did prostrations and mandala offerings in his mother’s house and completed the Vajrasattva and Guru Yoga practices while tending the animals. Shortly thereafter he received the Ganges Mahamudra transmission and instructions.
Lama Abao was born in 1969 to a normadic family in Tibet. From the age of six until the age of eight he studied the Tibetan language and script. At the age of fourteen he met his Root Lama, His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche, with whom he took refuge at that time. At age fifteen Abao Lama received his monastic vows and instructions on Mahamudra from the Mahasiddha Karma Norbu. At the age of eighteen he met Khenpo Munsel from Golog for the first time. After having completed the Dzogchen Ngondro he received instructions and transmission on Trekcho and Thogal.