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His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche

    His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche 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 Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche 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 Chetsang Rinpoche 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 Chetsang Rinpoche 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 Drikung Kyagbon Chetsang Rinpoche>>





His Eminence 8th 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 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 entitled him an Vajra Master and 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. He then came to America to do a Yamantaka Retreat with HE Garchen Rinpoche. At present, he serves as the Resident Retreat Master and Chant Master for the Garchen Institute in Arizona. Furthermore, he is the founder of the Drikung Rinchen Choling Foundation in Los Angeles/CA, where he continues to oversee the center as the Resident Lama.

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