Filed in Vajrayana, Tibetan

A New Place, A New Time

An interview with Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche about the leadership of Shambhala, the legacy of his father, Trungpa Rinpoche, and the future of Buddhism in the West.

Helen Tworkov

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Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche is the eldest son of the late Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and, since 1990, the leader of the Shambhala community his father founded. Osel Rangdrol Mukpo, as he was named at birth, spent his early years living in a Tibetan refugee village in northwest India with his mother, Konchok Paldron, a Tibetan nun. At the age of seven, he went to live and train with his father, first at Samye Ling Meditation Centre in Scotland and later in Boulder, Colorado. In 1979, Trungpa Rinpoche conferred upon his son the title Sawang, or Earth Lord, empowering him as his heir, responsible for propagating the Shambhala teachings in the West. As part of his training, the Sakyong studied with the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and Kalu Rinpoche, and currently studies with Penor Rinpoche, who recognized him as the incarnation of Mipham Jamyang Namgyal Gyatso, the nineteenth-century meditation master. In 1995, at Shambhala headquarters in Nova Scotia, he was formally installed as the Sakyong (Earth Protector), or leader of the Shambhala community.

This interview was conducted at the Shambhala Center in New York City by Helen Tworkov.


Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche with his parentsTricycle: It’s now ten years since Trungpa Rinpoche died. By many people’s estimate, your father was the most superior dharma teacher to work in the West, and he was certainly the most public. Now that you have taken your own seat in the community, how have you understood your own role as leader? And what are some of—what must be—the mixed blessings of following in such big footsteps?

The Sakyong: I grew up in a tradition where I knew from a very young age what I was going to do, and what was expected of me. That helps. My father prepared me, to some extent, in terms of this whole process, I think that’s one thing. It’s not like somebody comes up to your door and says, “Oh, by the way....”

Tricycle: How did he prepare you?

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