Bongtrül Rinpoche

Bongtrül Rinpoche

a ngak’phang Lama of the Drigung tradition

The first incarnation in Kyabjé Bongtrül Rinpoche’s line was Lho Tsélé Lhundrüp. He was named after his birthplace – Lho. There are three other associated incarnations who share the name Lho: Lho Chen Rinpoche, Lho Künzang Rinpoche, and Lho Bongtrül Rinpoche. The second incarnation was Lho Drüpchen Ten’dzin Zangpo. The third incarnation was Lho Ten’dzin Changchub Zangpo. The fourth incarnation was Lho Jédrung Ögyen Nüden Dorje Rinpoche.

Lho Jédrung Ögyen Nüden Dorje was the holder of seven transmission lines and an accomplished master of both the Kagyüd and Nyingma traditions. His line begins with Shri Simha and proceeds through Nyatri Tsepo (the first Tibetan Dharma King) and Nyang Ten’dzin Sangpo (a disciple of Padmasambhava). Lho Jédrung Ögyen Nüden Dorje also manifested as Namkha Wangchuk (in the family lineage of Drukyal Kyura Dong); Dungtso Repa (the gTértön who revealed the Dzogchen Yangti Nagpo); Ngak’chang Yeshé Dorje (Jnana Benza, son of gTértön Sang-gye Lingpa); Ögyen Lé’dro Lingpa; and finally as an incarnation in the gö kar chang lo family line of Shotang (descending from Ratna Lingpa – an unbroken family line of accomplished naljorpas and ngakpas).

The fifth incarnation was Lho Jédrung Ten’dzin Gyalbu Nyugü Rinpoche. The sixth incarnation was Lho Bongtrül Ten’dzin Dro’dül Rinpoche (the sixth Lho Bongtrül was the Tsawa’i Lama of both the Drigung Kyabgöns, the fifth Chuntsang Chökyi Lödrö, and the fifth Chétsang Thugjé Nyima). The seventh incarnation Kyabjé Lho Böngtrül Ten’dzin Nyima is also the Mind incarnation of the first Lho Tsélé Lhundrüp. He has two brothers who are his close disciples. The elder brother is Ongchen Künzang Dro’dül (Ongtrül Rinpoche, a ngak’phang Lama who is the emanation of Khyéchung Lotsa). The younger brother is Chungpo Drüpgyüd Ten’dzin Rinpoche.

The seventh incarnation—Kyabjé Bongtrül Ten’dzin Nyima Rinpoche—was born in the year 1965. As a boy he attended an ordinary local school and learned how to read and write. As a natural gö kar chang lo master, he taught himself drawing, Tibetan brush calligraphy, and thangka painting.

When he was eighteen years old, Bongtrül Rinpoche entered Lho Lungkar Gompa where he received teachings on Dzogchen and especially Dzogchen Togal from Togden Drogön Rinpoche, a direct disciple of the former Bongtrül Rinpoche. From this Master he also received teachings on the Gongpa Yangzab (dGongs pa yang zab – a gTérma revealed by Rinchen Phüntsog Rinpoche – Rin chen Phun tshogs ’Bri gung pa, 1509-1557) and ’phowa. According to the prophecy of Achi Chökyi Drölma, Togden Drogön recognised Kyabjé Bongtrül Rinpoche as the Mind emanation of Lho Bongtrül and made it known.

At this time Kyabjé Bongtrül Rinpoche had already mastered the chants, rites, and rituals of Lho Lungkar Gompa. Later, he received teachings on the Ground, Path and Fruition from Drüpwang Pachung Rinpoche. He received the Drigung Kagyüd Lineage of the Six Yogas of Naropa and the Five-fold Path of Mahamudra from meditation master Ten’dzin Nyima, a disciple of Drüpwang Achung Rinpoche. He received ordination from Sogtrül Rinpoche of Drigung Til, who gave him the name Könchog Ten’dzin Thrin-lé Tha-yé. Kyabjé Chétsang Rinpoche subsequently recognised him as the Mind incarnation of Lho Bongtrül Rinpoche and gave him the name Könchog Ten’dzin Shérab Jungné Pal-sangpo.

Kyabjé Bongtrül Rinpoche completed a four-year retreat and other lengthy retreats on Dorje Shin-jé and Dzogchen Yangzab gTérma practices from Dzogchen Khenpo Thubten Namgyal. He received empowerments of the Uttara Tantra, and the Kagyèd Drüpthab of the eight herukas, Dorje Phurba, and Rig’dzin Jig’mèd Lingpa’s Dzogchen teachings. In 1997 Kyabjé Bongtrül met Kyabjé Chétsang Rinpoche. He then received teachings and empowerment on the Five Treasuries of Jamgön Kongtrül Rinpoche containing the quintessential Kagyüd empowerments from Garchen Rinpoche, Dölmo Chöjé Rinpoche, and Gyalpo Rinpoche.

Kyabjé Bongtrül Rinpoche then went to Drigung Til and sought the guidance of the meditation master Ten’dzin Nyima Rinpoche on the Six Yogas of Naropa and the Five-fold Mahamudra teachings. His Eminence introduced the yearly practice of the Kagyèd (the Eight Heruka Drüpthabs), the Assembly of Rig’dzins, the Embodiment of Intentionality of the nature of Mind, Dorje Phurba, and the Lho Lungkar Gon tradition of the Mind Propitiation of the Déchen Nyingpo (bDe chen sNying po – Essence of Great Bliss).

Kyabjé Bongtrül Rinpoche introduced the entire range of Vajra Dances to Lho Lungkar Gompa. Seeing the needs of future generations, he composed many drüpthabs (methods of accomplishment – sadhanas) and Songs of Realisation. His Eminence also recorded two audio cassettes of Dharma songs. In 1998 Kyabjé Bongtrül Rinpoche rebuilt the historically important Lungkar Bumo Ché Chörten. He later re-built Lho Lungkar Gon Monastery and added retreat centres to the complex. In addition he built a medical dispensary for the local people and founded a school for local children.