Request for the Teacher to Remain as the Vajra Body, Speech and Mind
Your indestructible vajra body of great bliss, visible and yet empty, Fully adorned with the youthfulness of the major and minor marks, Is the marvelous embodiment of the victorious ones, the nirmanakaya to teach beings. May your life be firm as the unchanging vajra body.
Your unobstructed vajra speech audible and yet empty, voice of the profound and secret teachings, endowed with sixty qualities, is the Sambhogakaya manifest in accordance with the inclination of beings. May your life be firm as the unceasing vajra speech.
Your vajra mind beyond arising, dwelling and ceasing, cognizant and yet empty, profound and luminous wakefulness, the sphere from which all dharmas originate, is the all-pervasive lord, the dharmakaya essence of the victorious ones. May your life be firm as the unmistaken vajra mind.
Sun of the Buddha activity in the all-pervading sky, Radiating welfare and happiness beyond rising and setting, Eminent sustainer who makes the lotus garden of the teachings and beings bloom, may you shine for one hundred aeons. Composed by Terdak Lingpa Gyurmay Dorje
His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang
His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is one of two heads of the Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. Born in 1946 in Lhasa, Tibet, he was recognized at the age of four as the reincarnation of the previous Drikung Kyabgon and formally enthroned and educated at Drikung Thil, the main monastery of the Drikung Kagyu order in central Tibet. During the Tibetan exodus in the late 1950s, his parents fled to India while he remained at Drikung Thil. In 1959, Communist China closed the monastery, and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was adopted by his former tutor, His Eminence Gyabra Rinpoche. After completing his elementary and middle school education in Lhasa, in 1969 he was assigned to a countryside farm, working fifteen hours a day doing hard physical labor.
In 1975, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang crossed the Himalayan border separating Tibet from Nepal—on foot and all alone except for fortuitous help from two strangers at one impassable point. He traveled to Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, where he was received by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and formally enthroned once again.
Then, after eighteen years of separation, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was reunited with his family in the United States. He stayed for several years, completing courses in English and adult education—and working after school at McDonald’s to practice his English.
In 1978, he returned to India, taking up rigorous Buddhist practice, retreats, and instruction from many of the greatest living masters of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1985, in Dehra Dun, India, he founded the Drikung Kagyu Institute, Jang Chub Ling, which provides traditional monastic and modern education to c. 450 monks and nuns; a meditation retreat center; and a project to collect and preserve all the Drikung Kagyu texts, as well as document the ways of life, philosophy, and religious traditions of the peoples of the Himalayas.
Read more about the extraordinary life and accomplishments of His Holiness the Drikung Kyagbon Chetsang.
His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche
His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche is a Drikung Kagyu lama who was known in the thirteenth century as the Siddha Gar Chodingpa, a heart disciple of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon, founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. In ancient India, he had incarnated as Mahasiddha Aryadeva, the lotus-born disciple of the great Nagarjuna. In the seventh century, he was known as Lonpo Gar, the minister of the Tibetan Dharma King Songsten Gampo.
Garchen Rinpoche was recognized and enthroned in eastern Tibet by the former Drikung Kyabgon Zhiwe Lodro. When he was seven, he was brought to Lho Miyal Monastery, which he administered from the age of eleven. Studying and practicing under the direction of the Siddha Chime Dorje, Garchen Rinpoche received vast and profound instructions on the preliminary practices (ngondro), the fivefold practice of Mahamudra and the six yogas of Naropa.
Then, at the age of 22, after completing a two and a half year retreat, he was imprisoned for 20 years during the political turmoil of China's Cultural Revolution. While in the labor camp, he received meditation instruction from his root lama, the Nyingma master Khenpo Munsel. Enduring hardship and practicing secretly, Garchen Rinpoche attained realization of the lama's wisdom mind. Since his release from prison in 1979, Garchen Rinpoche has made great effort to rebuild the Drikung Kagyu monasteries, reestablish the Buddhist teachings, and build two boarding schools for local children in eastern Tibet. Rinpoche is the founder and spiritual director of the Garchen Buddhist Institute in Chino Valley, Arizona.
Garchen Rinpoche is known for his vast realization, as well as for his great kindness.
Venerable Traga Rinpoche
Traga Rinpoche is an accomplished Dzogchen master, having received profound foundational and the most advanced teachings from some of the greatest living masters of Tibetan Buddhism -- including His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche, His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche, Khenchen Jigme Phuntsog and many others -- and completed many retreats.
From Garchen Rinpoche, Traga Rinpoche received teachings on all Drikung Kagyu texts on regular Dharma service and practice, the five-fold Mahamudra, the entire Dzogchen Yangzab teachings, and many profound pith instructions. He then did his Dzogchen Yangzab retreat at Lho Miyel Gon monastery.
In early 1984, Traga Rinpoche received full gelong ordination from the Nyingma master Khenpo Munsel, who gave him the detailed teachings on Dzogchen Cutting Through the Resistance to Primordial Purity. Khenpo Munsel gently looked at Traga Rinpoche and said, your karmic propensity is to practice Dzogchen. I am your karmic lama. If you can meditate, you have today found the way to liberation in one life. You will never find something like this even if you went to look for it with your horse's hooves encased in steel. Spend one year near me and meditate. For the next seven years, he did retreat near Khenpo Munsel, and practiced Cutting Through, Passing Over, and many other advanced practices.
In 1998, Lamchen Gyalpo Rinpoche -- determined to make Traga Rinpoche's vast knowledge and profound experiential understanding of the highest level of Dzogchen teachings accessible to as many students as possible -- enthroned him as Lopon Rinpoche (Precious Master), with lavish praise for his hard work and outstanding achievements. His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche selected Traga Rinpoche as the retreat master and resident lama at the Garchen Buddhist Institute, and asked his students to have full confidence in Traga Rinpoche, just as I have full confidence in him.
Venerable Lama Thubten Nima
Lama Thubten Nima was born in 1965 into conditions of political turmoil and exile associated with the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Lama Thubten Nima had the good fortune to receive instruction at the age of fourteen on the effects of virtuous and harmful actions by the great yogi Tamga, and he completed the four hundred thousand accumulations of the preliminary practices (ngö ndro) according to the Buddhist Yangzab terma.
His family having long been associated with Gar Monastery prior to the Cultural Revolution, Lama Thubten Nima made great efforts to travel to the Gar Monastery where he received refuge ordination from His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche. He then received full monastic ordination and the bodhisattva vow from the great siddha Karma Norbu, and was admitted to the Gar Monastery. There, he trained in the ritual practices of the tantras of Old and New Schools and other diverse religious activities. He was selected for special training at Lho Lungkar Monastery, including the Eight Heruka Sadhanas, the Embodiment of the Masters' Realization, Vajrakilaya, and Essence of Great Bliss. He served as chant master and, later, as disciplinarian of the Gar monastery.
Thereafter, he received teachings from many of the great living Buddhist masters including Dzogchen trekchod and thogal from Khenpo Munsel Rinpoche, the entirety of the Drikung Kagyu protectors and the higher and lower tantra sections from HE Garchen Rinpoche, and received from Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok his own terma (mind treasure) of the Kilaya cycle of teachings. At Drigung Thil, he received from Drubpon Tendzin Nyima some of the profound teachings of the Drikung Kagyu such as 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 Drigung Khenpo Namzig. Under the elder Drigung chant master Konchog Samten, he trained in the ritual practices of Chakrasamvara, Varahi, the Yangzab, Sarvavid and Akshobhya.
Thereafter, HE Garchen Rinpoche asked him to undertake a series of assignments to help reorganize and reestablish Buddhist practice and monastic discipline in monasteries throughout the region ö after, in some cases, a twenty-five year breach in the Buddhist practice tradition including Lho Miyel Monastery, Khargo Monastery, and later Tseri Monastery in Sichuan where he reestablished the Great Accomplishment (Drupchen) practice of Yamantaka and gave other teachings. Then, again at the request of HE Garchen Rinpoche, he served 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 he went to India and received the complete Drikung Kagyu empowerments, transmissions and teachings during the Drigung Snake Year teachings. Thereafter, he went to Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. He then came to America to do a Yamantaka Retreat with HE Garchen Rinpoche, and served as the resident Lama for the Mercy and Treasure Buddhist Foundation in California. At present, he serves as Short-Term Retreat Master and Chant Master for The Garchen Institute in Arizona, as well as continuing to serve as visiting Lama at Drikung Rinchen Choling in Temple City, California. HE Garchen Rinpoche has also requested Lama Thubten Nima to serve as Chant Master (religious ritual master) all the Gar Buddhist Dharma centers in the West.
Abao Lama’s parents lived as nomads in Tibet at a time of great political change, and they endured many hardships just to survive. Five of their ten children died due to the difficult circumstances.
Abao Lama was born in 1969 and was one of the surviving children. 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. Afterward he completed 500,000 recitations of the Fivefold Mahamudra Ngondro.
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.
Lama Bunima was born in 1963 in Gargon village in Tibet to a nomadic family, and he kept watch over his family’s flock of yaks and goats. 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. In 1993, together with Rinpoche, he left Tibet for the first time. They traveled for one year in India, Nepal, and Hong Kong, and thereafter, until 1997, they spent most of the time in Tibet. Lama Bunima attended Rinpoche throughout their travels, and at other times he stayed at Gargon monastery and did various retreats. While in retreat, his primary practice was Nyungne. In 1997 he traveled with Rinpoche to America, and he subsequently became an American citizen.
Since 1997 His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche has built many centers around the world, and Lama Bunima has been one of Rinpoche’s two attendants on his travels throughout Europe, Asia, and North America.
Barbara Du Bois
BARBARA DU BOIS, Ph.D., brings the liberating teachings of the Buddhadharma together with her rich life experience to shed a frank western light on the path. Students speak of her great compassion, her profound presence, and the love and fearlessness with which she meets us exactly where we are, pointing out and helping us take the next step or the next leap.
Khenpo Sherab Özer
Khenpo Sherab Özer Rinpoche received monastic ordination at a young age, and was recognized by H.H. Chetsang Rinpoche as a reincarnate lama in the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.
In 1985 he received the hair-cutting ceremony of refuge in the presence of Thubten Shedrub, an emanation of the Incomparable One from Dagpo [Gampopa]. Having entered the door of the Dharma at Drong Ngur Monastery, he made effort to train in the various ritual practices of his own tradition and engaged in the 400,000 accumulations of the preliminary practices under Khenpo Karma Tengye Rinpoche. In 1987 he received the vows of full monastic ordination from Drubwang Pachung Rinpoche.
Arriving in North India in 1992, he diligently studied the principal Buddhist scriptures with Khenpo Kö nchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche, Khenpo Togdrö l Rinpoche and Khenpo Kö nmö n Rinpoche at Drigung Jangchub Ling. Thereafter in Nepal, he engaged to the best of his ability in the hearing and contemplation of the various divisions of sutra and tantra at the feet of Kyabje Thrangu Rinpoche, Khenchen Pentse, Khenpo Chïdzï, Khenpo Jadrel, Khenpo Chö ga and Khenpo Padma Gyaltsen.
Then, having been named an Acarya at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling in Boudhanath, Nepal, he served as a teacher at their foreigners' college, Rangjung Yeshe Chetho. Thereafter, in the year 2000, he received from many of the great lamas, tü lkus and khenpos of the Drigung Kagyu - headed by Drigung Kyabgon Rinpoche, Kyabje Garchen Rinpoche and Chö je Togden Rinpoche - The Extensive Scriptures on Mahamudra of the Indian Mahasiddha, The Collected Works of Lord Gampopa, The Collected Works of Lord Phagmodrupa, The Outer and Inner Collected Works and Profound Teachings of Lord Kyobpa Rinpoche Jigten Sumgon together with The Collected Works of Lord Chokyi Dragpa. Further, he received the various collected writings of the golden mala of successive Drigung lineage masters and, like a vase being filled to the brim, he received empowerment, transmission and explanation together with oral instructions. Thus, he was installed as a Khenpo of the Drigung Kagyu Scriptural College.
Khenpo Sherab currently resides in Tucson, Arizona, where he is a teacher at Dharmakirti College and is the spiritual director and lama of the Drikung Namgyal Ling Dharma center.