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KYABJE TRULSHIK RINPOCHE, a short biography -1

By Matthieu Ricard on September 24, 2011

Kyabjé Trulshik Rinpoche (1924-2011) was is one of the last great masters to have completed a truly extensive study, training and practice of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition in the extraordinary cultural environment of Tibet prior to its invasion by the Chinese communist régime. Close disciple of some of the greatest Buddhist practitioners of the century, including Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche, he is one of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's respected teachers, holder of an important monastic lineage, and inheritor of many precious instructions and transmissions.

The family of his father, Tenzin Chödar, traced its ancestry to a member of the Licchavi clan of India. His mother, Jamyang Wangmo, was the daughter of a family descended from Önré Dharma Senge, nephew of the great Drukpa Kagyü founder, Tsangpa Gyarepa. The family still inhabited Önre's house in the district of Nakartsé near Yamdrok Taklung in lower Tsang, and Trulshik Rinpoche was born on the tenth day of the ninth month of the Year of the Wood Rat, 1924, with many miraculous signs, in the cave where Önré had practised above the family house.

Trulshik Rinpoche, Ngawang Chökyi Lodrö, was considered to be an emanation of the bodhisattvas Vajrapani and Mañjushri, and among many others, of the great Abbott Shantarakshita, the great translator Vairotsana, and Milarepa's close disciple Rechungpa.

At the age of four, Trulshik Rinpoche visited a place called Dzarong Phu, of Shelkar district in Latö, at the request of Dzatrul Rinpoche, who had been a close disciple of his predecessor Trulshik Donga Lingpa, also known as Zhadeu Kunzang Thongdröl Dorje. While there, memories of events in his previous life arose spontaneously in his mind. He recounted them at length, to the astonishment of Dzatrul Rinpoche, who had witnessed those events with his own eyes. Convinced that the young boy was indeed the incarnation of Trulshik Donga Lingpa, Dzatrul Rinpoche recognized and enthroned him, and subsequently guided him as his root teacher, transmitting to him the teachings of his predecessor.

Trulshik Rinpoche studied extensively at that great seat of learning of the Ancient Translation tradition, the monastery of Mindröl Ling. There too, from the preceptors Trikhen Chung Rinpoche and Minling Khenchen Khyentse Norbu Rinpoche, he took full monastic vows in the Vinaya ordination lineage descended from Lachen Gongpa Rabsel, of which he is today considered one of the principal holders, renowned for his pure discipline.

He also received many wide-ranging teachings on the Sutras, the Tantras, and the various other branches of knowledge, from more than thirty important teachers, including great masters of the Nyingma tradition such as Minling Dodzin Rinpoche, the renowned female lama Shuksep Jetsun Rinpoche, and Kyabjé Dudjom Rinpoche; Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentsé Rinpotché, and with masters of the Geluk tradition including the Ganden throne-holder Ling Rinpoche and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso; from the Sakya Drolma Podrang Rinpoche, Sakya Dakchen Rinpoche,, and particularly from the great non-sectarian teacher Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche Chökyi Lodrö.

All of these important teachings and transmissions he not only studied but put into practice. He completed a strict three-year retreat, and subsequently spent all his available time in practice and study.