Lineage & Teachers


Dzogchen's innermost essence is embedded in the terma tradition, a special lineage of treasure teachings concealed by the eighth-century teacher Guru Rinpoche with the intention that they be revealed at specific times in the future. Many of these teachings contain predictions for modern times, including particular spiritual practices beneficial for these times. The terma tradition contains detailed instructions on how to take maximum advantage of our human life, imbuing it with its fullest possible meaning.

Rangjung Yeshe Gomde is linked to the Chokling Tersar lineage, a collection of terma teachings revealed by Chokyur Lingpa (1829-1870), one of the last of Tibet's 108 great tertöns or "treasure revealers". The extraordinarily clear and profound heart practices revealed by Chokyur Lingpa, along with their assocated teachings, are contained in a body of literature filling more than forty large volumes. They are practiced by both the Kagyü and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism.

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche

Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920 - 1996) was widely acknowledged as one of the great meditation masters of modern times. Leaving Tibet in the face of the Chinese invasion in 1959, he settled in the hermitage of Nagi Gompa, on the northern slopes of Nepal's Kathmandu Valley. Here he lived quietly as a true Dzogchen yogi, visited by a steady stream of scholars, students, and practitioners from around the world. Throughout the course of his life he spent more than 20 years in meditation retreat.

Tulku Urgyen was famed for his profound meditative realization and for the concise, lucid and humorous style with which he imparted the essence of the Dzogchen teachings. His method of teaching was 'instruction through one's own experience.' Using few words, this way of teaching points out the nature of mind, revealing a natural simplicity of wakefulness that enables the student to actually touch the heart of the Buddha's Wisdom Mind.

Tulku Urgyen's startlingly clear teachings have been captured in several books, including Rainbow Painting, Repeating the Words of the Buddha, Vajra Speech, and As It Is. He had many foreign students, and was keenly interested in the expansion of the Dharma to the West. It was his wish for a North American seat that motivated his eldest son, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, to found Gomde in 1998.

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Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche
Meditation master and renowned teacher Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche has been teaching audiences around the world for the past 25 years. Marked by warmth, humor and wit, his teachings offer a unique opportunity to directly connect with the Buddhist tradition in a fresh, vital way that is relevant to our lives today.

The eldest son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche was born in 1951 in Eastern Tibet. At the age of 18 months, he was recognized as the seventh incarnation of the Drikung Kagyü lama Gar Drubchen, a Tibetan siddha and a spiritual emanation of Nagarjuna, the second-century Indian Buddhist philosopher.

Shortly before the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, Rinpoche left with his family for Sikkim. From the ages of 13 to 24, he studied in the Karma Kagyü, Drikung Kagyü, and Nyingma traditions under the guidance of such eminent masters as the 16 th Gyalwa Karmapa, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. He achieved the degree of khenpo at a very early age.

In 1974 he left Rumtek to join his family in Boudhanath, Nepal, where, at the command of the 16 th Karmapa, they established Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery. Installed as the monastery's abbot in 1975 by the Karmapa, Rinpoche followed the Karmapa's advice to turn his efforts towards instructing Western practitioners. Honing his English language skills, he began to offer weekend teachings to travelers. Over the years this has developed into an annual 10-day autumn seminar. Rinpoche's Saturday morning teachings at the monastery remain a popular event, drawing dozens of visitors each week. He founded the Rangjung Yeshe Institute for Buddhist Studies in 1981. Rinpoche is also the founder of Rangjung Yeshe Publications, with more than 40 Buddhist titles, including his own books: Union of Mahamudra and Dzogchen, Song of Karmapa, Bardo Guidebook, Indisputable Truth, and Present Fresh Wakefulness.

"The real object of devotion is thought-free wakefulness, which is the ultimate guru of our innate nature -- your natural mind, your self-existing wakefulness or natural awareness. This is the true view of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. So first we must recognise, then train in that recognition and attain stability. But remember, this recognition must be genuine and not some kind of personal concept we've made up. If we can train in genuine thought-free wakefulness, then it is possible to awaken to enlightenment fully and completely in this very lifetime. But it doesn't help much just to train in your own intellectualized version of the view, no matter how long you try. That is why it is said that Vajrayana can be very risky, but also has great advantages." -- Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche

Read more about Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche!

Click here to read a chapter on "Meditation" from Indisputable Truth.

Click here to read a chapter on "Introductory Teachings" from Present Fresh Wakefulness.

"Natural Happiness" article by Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche (published in the January 2007 issue of Buddhadharma) PDF (218KB)

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Chokling Rinpoche

Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche was born in eastern Tibet in 1953, the second son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Recognized by the Karmapa as the fourth reincarnation of the great 19th-century tertön Chokgyur Lingpa Rinpoche, he studied at Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim and received transmissions of the entire Nyingma lineage from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche. He lives at Ka-Nying Shedrup Ling, one of the largest monasteries in Nepal, where he serves as Vajra Master, presiding over the Vajrayana rituals for the living and dead. He is a tertön and lay practitioner with a wife and four children. His oldest son, Phakchok Rinpoche, is an important Taklung Kagyü tulku, while the youngest, Yangsi Rinpoche, is the reincarnation of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. His book Lotus Ocean was recently issued by Rangjung Yeshe Publications.

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Tsoknyi Rinpoche
Born in 1966 in Kathmandu, the son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, Drubwang Tsoknyi Rinpoche was recognized by the 16th Karmapa as the third incarnation of an important lama of the Drukpa Kagyü and Nyingma lineages. He is the lineage holder of the Ratna Lingpa Lineage and the Tsoknyi Lineage.

Following extensive academic training in India, Tsoknyi Rinpoche returned to Nepal in 1990 and established his seat at Ngedon Osel Ling Monastery, which he planned and built in consultation with with his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. Ngedon Osel Ling is the site of ongoing traditional three-year retreats as well as an International Buddhist Meditation Center. It also serves as headquarters for the Pema Karpo Translation Committee and for the Drukpa Kagyü Heritage Foundation, which is working to preserve the written texts of the Drukpa Kagyü lineage.

Tsoknyi Rinpoche also has a Western seat, Yeshe Rangsal in Crestone, Colorado. He is abbot of two nunneries in Nepal and the largest nunnery in Tibet. Rinpoche also heads fifty-five monasteries in the eastern Tibetan region which practice the Tsoknyi and Ratna Lingpa lineages. A lay practitioner with a wife and two children, Tsoknyi Rinpoche is widely recognized as a brilliant meditation master. He is one of the rare teachers whose lighthearted yet illuminating style appeals to both beginners and advanced practitioners. His unique style is reflected in his books, Carefree Dignity and Fearless Simplicity .

"Tsoknyi Rinpoche speaks to us with an exhilarating freshness, being fully aware of the complexity of modern life and the needs of men and women today. He is gifted with an ability to unravel the most profound of topics in a way that is clear and easy to understand, and as he maps out the teachings, he draws listeners constantly back to their own experience, allowing them to discover the truth of the Dharma within themselves." -- Sogyal Rinpoche

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Mingyur Rinpoche
The seventh incarnation of the mahasiddha Yongey Mingyur Dorje, Mingyur Rinpoche was born in 1975. In 1984 he moved to Nagi Gompa to study with his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, with whom he trained in Mahamudra, trekchö and togyal . He also studied with Jamgön Tai Situ Rinpoche, combining academic study with intensive meditation practice. He completed his first three-year retreat at age 17, then served as retreat master for several subsequent retreats while continuing his own practice. He has received the Hearing Lineage of Trekchö and Togyal from Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. Despite his youth, Rinpoche has already gained a reputation for his direct and profound meditation instruction, and for his lucid, skillful teaching style.

"The Buddha said that all sentient beings possess Buddha Nature. Because of that we have this natural purity, peacefulness and power. We can rest the mind naturally because we already possess these qualities. If one can rest the mind naturally, that's the best meditation. Non-meditation is the supreme meditation." -- Mingyur Rinpoche

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Phakchok Rinpoche
Born in 1981 to Chokling Rinpoche and his wife Dechen Paldron, Phakchok Rinpoche is grandson of Tulku Ugyen Rinpoche and the eldest brother of the Yangsi Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Recognized by the Kagyü regents and ordained by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he has studied with a number of great lamas, including Khyentse Rinpoche, Dudjom Rinpoche, Tulku Ugyen Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche, Trulshik Rinpoche and Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. An enthusiastic and vibrant young lama, his teachings are direct, accessible, and always fresh, opening up our minds in a playful and inspiring way.

Phakchok Rinpoche is the abbot of a monastery in Chapagaon in the southern Kathmandu Valley, as well as head of Riwoche Monastery in Tibet's Dokham region.

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