I was born in Kham, in the Nangchen region of Eastern Tibet. When I was seven years old I received the vows of Refuge from Garchen Rinpoche, and at the age of twelve I became ordained as a monk. I learned how 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 great accomplishment practices, or drubchens. During the summers we would stay in retreat at the monastery in Gargon. 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 direct pointing out instructions on the nature of mind. From these experiences I found that my mind had been deeply transformed.
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 Puntsok’s 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 won’t 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 Puntsok’s for more than four years.
Prior to my experience with Khenpo Munsel I had faith and devotion, but I was lacking understanding. 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. 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 that’s 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.
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.
|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.
The Nyingma Rinpoche Tulku Pel-lu of Kham came to nunnery and gave an initiation and commentary on Longchen Nyingthik to select nuns, among whom was Ani Rinchen Khandro. After this transmission and teaching, the nuns stayed in retreat on this teaching for three years.
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.
She then received major transmissions, commentaries and initiations of
Drikung Kagyu teachings during the Dragon Year Teachings (2000) from
His Holiness Drikung Chetsang Rinpoche, His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche,
His Eminence Tongten Rinpoche and Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen at Jangchubling Monastery, Dehra Dun, India.
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
Lama Thubten Nima was born in the Kham (eastern) Region of Tibet in 1965. When he was 14, Lama Thubten Nima had the good fortune to receive instruction on the effects of virtuous and harmful actions by the accumulations of the preliminary practices (Ngondro) according to the Buddhist Yangzab terma.
Lama Thubten Nima made great efforts to travel to Gar Monastery where he received refuge ordination from the profoundly loved and respected Garchen Rinpoche. He then received full monastic ordination and the bodhisattva vow from the great siddha Karma Norbu, and was then admitted to Gar Monastery.
While at Gar Monastery Lama Thubten Nima studied tantric ritual practices of the Old and New Schools, and engaged in a wide array of other religious trainings. Lama Thubten Nima received special training from the Hlo Lungkar Monastery Chant-master (religious ritual master), Lama Yungthar, including the Eight Heruka Sadhanas, the Embodiment of the Masters' Realization, Vajrakilaya, and Essence of Great Bliss. He then served as chant master for Gar Monastery and later as the disciplinarian.
Thereafter, Lama Thubten Nima sought-out and received teachings from many of the greatest living Buddhist masters including: Dzogchen Trekchod and Thogal from the highly-renowned and respected Khenpo Munsel Rinpoche; the entirety of the Drikung Kagyu protectors and the higher and lower tantra sections from His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche.
Lama Thubten Nima also received personal, one-on-one instruction from the great Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche. Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche also gave Lama Thubten Nima the Kalachakra Empowerment and teachings and Kilaya cycle of teachings from Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche's own terma (mind treasure).
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.
Thereafter, H.E. Garchen Rinpoche asked Lama Thubten Nima to undertake a series of assignments to help reorganize and reestablish Buddhist practice and monastic discipline in monasteries throughout the region – after, in some cases, a twenty-five year breach in the Buddhist practice tradition.
Some of the monasteries Lama Thubten Nima helped reestablish include: Hlo Miyel Monastery, Khargo Monastery and later Tseri Monastery in Sichuan -- where he reestablished the Great Accomplishment (Drupchen) practice of Yamantaka and gave other teachings.
He next served (again at the request of H.E. Garchen Rinpoche) as Lama (religious teacher and minister) for two years at Tamgo Monastery in Central Tibet, the former dwelling place of Chung Dorje Dragpa -- the fourth lineage holder of the Drikung Kagyu. There Lama Thubten Nima established the summer retreat, set up a yearly teaching schedule and appointed a chant master, disciplinarian and shrine master. Subsequently, at Gar Monastery, Lama Thubten Nima took responsibility for instructing the nuns at the Fivefold Mahamudra Meditation Center of Gargon Nunnery.
In the year 2000 Lama Thubten Nima went to India and received the complete Drikung Kagyu empowerments, transmissions and teachings during the Drikung Snake Year teachings. There he received teachings directly from His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche, His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche, Drubwang Konchok Norbu Rinpoche, and many other high Lamas.
Thereafter, Lama Thubten Nima went to Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. He then came to America to do a Yamantaka Retreat with H.E. Garchen Rinpoche. At present, he serves as a Resident Lama and Chant Master for the Garchen Institute in Arizona, as well as continuing to serve as Resident Lama for the Mercy and Treasure Buddhist Foundation (southern California).
H.E. Garchen Rinpoche has also requested Lama Thubten Nima to serve as Chant Master at all the Garchen Buddhist Dharma centers in the West.
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.
He lived as a nomad until age 21, and from that time on he stayed with Rinpoche. Starting in 1982, Lama Bunima helped Rinpoche rebuild his monasteries, which had been destroyed during the turmoil in Tibet. He received his monastic ordination in 1982 from Khenpo Munsel and subsequently received Trekcho and Thogal transmission and many other teachings from Garchen Rinpoche. While in retreat, his primary practice was Nyungne. In 1997 he traveled with Rinpoche to America, and he subsequently became an American citizen.
Lama Bunima has been one of Rinpoche’s two attendants on his travels throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.
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.
Starting at the age of twenty-two, he served for three years at Gargon monastery, having responsibility for the offerings received by the monastery. In addition to this position, he attended the Lamas in the monastery and practiced Tsok on a regular basis. Also during this time, he gathered accumulations of the mantras of White Tara, Yamantaka, and the root mantras of the four enlightened activities of the deities.
In 1997 Abao Lama traveled with H.E. Garchen Rinpoche to America, and he subsequently became an American citizen. Since 1997 Rinpoche has built many centers around the world, and Abao Lama has been one of Rinpoche’s two attendants on his travels throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.