The Life and Works of Tsulchen Rinpoche (2)

The Sun of Teachings, Tsulchen Thegchog Tempai Nyima Rinpoche (2)

The meaning of Rinpoche’s name is ‘the sun of teachings of noble sect’. He was born in Dzakhog township in Derge, Kham region of eastern Tibet. This was the same hometown of Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche (1859-1934) who realized the rainbow body of the great Phowa Dzogchen, and was also the root guru of the 2nd Tsulchen Rinpoche.

Tsulchen Rinpoche was born into a large agricultural family. His father named Ambum came from a pure clan. His mother named Okar Lamtsho. The year that he was born was the 16th year of the Tibetan’s sixty year cycle (Rabchung), which was called “Wangchug” meaning bountiful, prosperity, and powerful. Accordingly, it was in the year of Fire-Ox, on a Thursday, waxing moon day. Both parents had auspicious dreams. While his mother was giving birth there were also many auspicious signs: pleasant smell of fragrance filled the air inside and outside of their home, the sound of a dragon, bountiful rain, as well as an appearance of the rainbow.

At that time, Gyaltsab Lodro Gyatso, who was a representative of Shardza Rinpoche came to their house and bestowed the empowerment for long life. He rejoiced in the occasion and gave the prediction that the boy will be the important holder of Yungdrung Bon’s teaching. He urged the parents to take good care of their son.

The young boy studied Tibetan linguistics and grammar with ease. Terton Kalsang Tempai Gyaltsen and Gyaltsab Lodrol Gyatso gave him the name “Chime Thegchog Tempai Nyima” which means ‘the sun of teachings of noble sect, the immortal one.” It is an auspicious name that has outer, inner, and innermost meanings.

When he was four years old, the boy who later became Tsulchen Rinpoche was recognized as the reincarnated 2nd Tsulchen Rinpoche. This recognition was upheld from many prophecies that led to the investigation until they found the boy with such characteristics in his own root guru’s (Shardza Rinpoche) hometown.

In the year of the dragon, on 13th of the first month, he was enthroned at Tokden monastery which was more than a thousand kilometers from his hometown. At that time, traveling across region was a difficult journey that can be done mainly on foot or by animal ride.

To receive and welcome him, there were dharma practitioners, disciples of the previous Tsulchen Rinpoche, and devotees of Yungdrung Bon and other schools including King Meu (King of Ngawa). At such a young age, he could miraculously recite prayers to remove obstacles and dedication prayers.

Thanks to Migmar for her help with the translation.


The Life and Works of Tsulchen Rinpoche

The Sun of Teachings, His Eminence Tsulchen Thegchog Tempai Nyima Rinpoche (1)

H.E. Tsulchen Thegchog Tempai Nyima Rinpoche is a senior dharma master from the Bon Buddhist tradition at Tokden Monastery in Amdo, Tibet. Currently, Rinpoche is one of the most important lineage holders of the Kundrol Dragpa and Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen teachings. He is the closest dharma friend of Kundrol Mongyal Lhasey Rinpoche.

The detail of his life and teachings are shared on the occasion of Tsulchen Rinpoche’s upcoming visit to Thailand during December 13-23, 2017 to give teachings, and oral transmissions as well as chair the Phapa offering ceremony for the World Peace Great Stupa under construction at Kundrol Ling, Thailand.

This biography of Tsulchen Rinpoche is compiled from a collection of teachings by Tsulchen Rinpoche as well as an interview with Ajarn Meu Yonten, who spent 27 years at Tokden Monastery under guidances of Tsulchen Rinpoche and the late Triwa Rinpoche.

Tokden Monastery

Tsulchen Thegchog Tempai Nyima Rinpoche is a Tulku (reincarnated lama) of Maha Pundita Tsultrim Tempai Gyaltsen who was the 2nd Tsulchen Rinpoche, therefore he becomes the 3rd Tsulchen Rinpoche. However, from the main guru lineage (Larab) of Tokden Monastery he is the 13th guru.

Formerly, Tokden Monastery was a hermitage of tantric yogis and yoginis, and the name Tokden was not used. Its history can be dated back since the year 1385 (B.E. 1928).

In 1966, a learned monk called Tokden Yungdrung Tsultrim came to stay in a retreat in the hermitage and transformed the place into a monastery. He was hence the first guru of the monastery or the First Larab.

Also at that time Token Yungdrung Tsultrim invited three masters who were descendants of Buddha Tonpa Shenrab, namely Shenten Phuntsog Wangyal, Shen Jowo Leg, and Shen Sonam Temba, to Tokden monastery. They all traveled for many months from Tsang province in central Tibet to Ngawa (Aba) in Amdo.

The Shenrab clan (Shentshang) is therefore continued uninterruptedly at Tokden until today. All the three Shens were patrons of the main assembly hall which was constructed with 20 pillars. They also sponsored the casting and consecration of statues. Previously when the monastery was a hermitage there was no main assembly hall; therefore, the consecration and prayers were conducted at the master’s private residence.

Subsequently, the main disciple of Tokden Yungdrung Tsultrim named Sonam Phuntsog and Tsultrim Yeshe who were shepherds, were later ordained. They practiced according to the teachings of their root guru.

In particular, they practiced “Nyensa Trim” or the wandering practice of Chod (cutting through the ego), visiting numerous places such as a hundred of mountains, a hundred of cemeteries, a hundred of villages, a hundred of high plains, and a hundred of water sources. Both had undertaken pilgrimage to these places together with the two sheep that carried their food.

The two traveled all over central region, to spiritual places such as those related to the Shenrab lineage in Tsang, Mount Kongbo Bonri, Lhasa, Mount Kailash, as well as borders of northern Nepal. They received many empowerments and teachings from Shentshang’s seat including the practice of Sipa Gyalmo on her red mule ride, which enabled the practice of Shenrab lineage continue uninterruptedly at Tokden monastery until today.