Oral teachings of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
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Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche
 

A Tribute to Nyoshul Khenpo Jamyang Dorje

Rest in natural great peace
This exhausted mind
Beaten helplessly by karma and neurotic thought
Like the relentless fury of pounding waves
In the infinite ocean of samsara.

-Tibetan Gypsy Khenpo Jamyang Dorje


Nyoshul Khenpo was born in 1932 in the Derge region of Kham. His mother and his grandmother, a disciple of the master Nyoshul Lungtok, encouraged his interest in the Dharma, and at the age of five he joined a local Sakya monastery. He then studied with Rigdzin Jampal Dorje, receiving teachings on Mahamudra and beginning the 12-year training of a khenpo, which he concluded at the age of 24. He was also to master the Six Yogas, Lamdre, Kalachakra and Cho, and spent several years studying at the Katok monastery, all the while combining his studies with meditation retreats and intensive practice.

Khenpo counted 25 great masters as his principal teachers, of whom the most central in his life was Shedrup Tenpe Nyima, the reincarnation of Nyoshul Lungtok. From him, from the age of 17 at Nyoshul monastery, he began to receive the teachings of Longchen Nyingthik and particularly the Great Oral Lineage of Pith Instructions (Mengak Nyengyue Chenmo) of Dzogpachenpo. Khenchen Ngawang PalzangThis became Khenpo's special lineage, a lineage which reached back from his master through Khenpo Ngakchung, Nyoshul Lungtok and Patrul Rinpoche in an unbroken line to Jigme Lingpa, Longchenpa and the Primordial Buddha. Khenpo passed these teachings on to a few close disciples.

In 1959 he made a narrow escape from Tibet. In India, conditions were hard, and his life veered between extremes, at first begging on the streets of Calcutta and living among the sadhus, and then giving empowerments to huge assemblies and to incarnate lamas. He received teachings from Dudjom
Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and the 16th Gyalwang Karmapa, and was requested by many great masters to serve as khenpo in their monasteries. Kangyur Rinpoche, Longchen Yeshe DorjeIn the early 1970s he spent several years at Penor Rinpoche's monastery in Mysore, South India. He later taught in the Kalimpong area, where he fell ill and was cared for by the family of Kangyur Rinpoche. On the advice of Loppon Sonam Zangpo, he married Damchoe Zangmo. He travelled to Switzerland for medical treatment, and then spent eight years in the Dordogne in France, sometimes teaching at the three-year retreat.

As his health improved, invitations came from many quarters. He travelled to teach in India, Nepal, Taiwan, France, Britain, Switzerland, Germany and the U.S, taking up residence in Thimpu in Bhutan, where he had many students. Twice he visited Tibet - with Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in 1990 and then with Penor Rinpoche in1992. He wrote a definitive two-volume History of the Dzogchen Nyingthik, with the biographies of the lineage masters, and a remarkable collection of poetic songs of realisation.

Nyoshul Khenpo was such a consummate master of Dzogpachenpo and such an authority on the teachings of Longchenpa that his disciples regarded him as Longchenpa in the flesh. He was the teacher of many of the younger generation of lamas, as well as a number of western Buddhist teachers.

Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche passed away at 12 noon on Friday, 27 August 1999 at Antamnies, Dordogne, France. He remained in tukdam meditation until some time on Monday. (According to Tulku Thondup in Buddha Mind, "Many accomplished Dzogpachenpo meditators remain in the meditative state, for hours or days, even after the energies of the elements are dissolved, breathing has ceased, and mind is submerged into the inner clarity, yet one's mind is not separated from the body.") Many students formed a connection with him of unusual closeness, discovering in his teachings and his poems a deep and abiding source of inspiration. Never will they forget his extraordinary presence or the spirit in which he taught, which embodied so perfectly the fathomless ease and vastness of Dzogpachenpo.

Patrick Gaffney

Appeared in Siddhartha's Intent - Gentle Voice #13


 

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