August 02, 2010

Celebration, tragedy, ecology, and meditation; Quite the year for Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

Around the turn of the fifteenth century, the 7th Karmapa, Chodrak Gyatso, recognized the first Thrangu Rinpoche as a reincarnation of Shuwu Palgyi Senge, a principal student of Padmasambhava (pictured at right).

Five hundred years later, Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche, the ninth Thrangu tulku, is one of the most highly regarded lamas in the Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism.  A man of almost unfathomable accomplishments, Thrangu Rinpoche is an extensively educated scholar and an advanced Vajrayana master who has founded and presided over a vast number of monasteries, schools, and dharma centers throughout the world, published several books, and has done extensive work to save and preserve Tibetan texts.  As a teacher he is known for his uncanny ability to make complex teachings accessible and also for his warm sense of humor, and he has taught thousands upon thousands of students in over twenty-five countries, from beginners to some of the highest lamas.   Among those he has instructed are Shamar Rinpoche, Situ Rinpoche, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche, and Gyaltsab Rinpoche, the four principal disciples, or "The Four Heart-Sons," of the 16th Karmapa, and in later years, lamas such as Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche and Ogyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa.

For anyone who would like to learn more, I strongly recommend visiting his website, which contains a great deal of information, including bios, links to sites for his many monasteries, centers, and projects, teaching schedules and publication links, and gives a glimpse into the life of a kind and brilliant man who has been working tirelessly for the dharma for over seven decades.

Just over a week ago, Thrangu Rinpoche and his community opened Thranghu Monastery in Richmond, British Colombia, Canada's first traditional Tibetan Buddhist monastery. In his upcoming teachings in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada he will be addressing the ever-important issue of the environment and "Eco-Buddhism."

As reported by the Edmonton Journal,

As part of his visit to Edmonton, the eminent Buddhist scholar and teacher Venerable Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche will discuss ecological Buddhism at a public talk on Friday. Entitled When Snow Mountains Wear Black Hats, the presentation is organized by his students at Karma Tashi Ling Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Society.

"As Buddhists, we have a responsibility for where we live and for all sentient beings," says Charles Schweger, one of the organizers of the retreat.

"Eco-Buddhism takes traditional Buddhist teachings of mindfulness, non-harm and interdependence and applies them to environmental issues."

Read the complete article here.

Sadly, many followers of Thrangu Rinpoche, including those at Thrangu Tashi Choling Monastery were among the worst hit in the devastating Qinghai Earthquake that took place on April 14th.  Many lives were lost and efforts to recover, rebuild, and to assist the victims are stil ongoing.  To learn about different ways in which you can help with these efforts, please click here.

What's recommended is that if you have a good experience, don't get too excited. And if you have a bad experience, don't mistake it for a serious deviation or a sidetrack that you have to find your way back from. If you have a bad experience, just continue practicing as you were. In other words, whatever happens, just keep looking at your mind.

-Thrangu Rinpoche, Pointing Out the Dharmakaya, pg. 73

Image 1 courtesy of Himalayan Art Resources, Padmasambhava (HAR 188)

Image 2 courtesy of Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche's website,

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