Brief Autobiography

Literary Genres › BiographyAutobiography | Tibetan MastersPema Rigtsal Rinpoche

English | བོད་ཡིག

Pema Rigtsal Rinpoche

Tulku Pema Rigtsal Rinpoche

Brief Autobiography

by Pema Rigtsal Rinpoche

I was born in 1964, on the 15th day of the second Tibetan month, in Sendeu in India. My father was Pema Jikmé Namgyal, the reincarnation of Kyabgön Pema Dewé Gyalpo, and my mother was Kyabma Tsering.

At the age of three, following the prophecies of the deity Dorjé Yudrönma and the guru Kyabje Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorjé, I was recognized as the reincarnation of Chimé Rinpoche, who was a renowned emanation of the Indian siddha Padampa Sangye.

I learnt to read and write the Tibetan script from my father, Degyal Rinpoche II, and my uncle Namgyal. Then, for several years I attended the Tibetan Namgyal School and Durbar High School, where I studied until the end of Grade Six. After that I studied the ritual tradition of Namkha Khyungdzong, learning the melodies, liturgical chanting, and so forth.

From a young age, due to the strong presence of Dharma in my close surroundings, I felt unwavering faith in Kyabje Dudjom Jigdral Yeshé Dorjé and in his son, Dungsé Thinley Norbu Rinpoche. I also felt great faith and respect for the sacred Dharma itself.

When I was nineteen, Pema Kündröl Rinpoche, the son of my predecessor Chimé Rinpoche, had a sudden stroke and passed away. This triggered within me an intense disenchantment and I developed the ardent wish and determination to practice the Dharma properly.

Soon afterwards, I joined my guru of inexpressible kindness, Khenchen Dawé Özer Rinpoche—so precious that his name is hard to utter but whom I mention here by name for the sake of communication. For the next ten years, I stayed by his side, following him to India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, East Tibet, and various other places. At his feet, I studied the sūtras and tantras, and the general sciences. For the duration of my time with him, I focused on my studies and cast aside all concern about food, clothing, and security. I joyfully assumed responsibility for my own basic necessities and embraced all the hardships this involved. This pleased the Guru greatly, and so my efforts became great clouds of offerings.

Khen Rinpoche told me that I must teach the scriptures and make this one of the main focuses of my life’s work. I felt the weight of this command, placing it reverently on the crown of my head, and so from 1993 until the present day, for twenty-six years, I have been giving teachings on a daily basis to a group of approximately fifty monastics, almost without break. During these years I have also completed one three-year retreat and several year-long retreats. In this way, I have stayed put at my own monastery, Namkha Khyungdzong in Humla, striving to uphold our Dharma lineage through the unity of study and practice, according to my abilities.

On many occasions, to inspire others in virtue, I have taught to assemblies of both monastics and lay people The Words of My Perfect Teacher, The Way of the Bodhisattva, The Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and other mind-training texts. In the same vein, I have encouraged people to recite the vajra guru mantra, the maṇi mantra, and the amidheva mantra, and there are now more than a thousand students who’ve accumulated more than ten million repetitions of these mantras. There are more than 100 practitioners, and counting, who have completed a three-year retreat, a six-month retreat, and so on. I have also sponsored the construction of several holy supports (statues, stūpas, and the like).

At present, there are more than 400 monks and nuns at Namkha Khyungdzong Monastery and Nunnery. They are upholding the lineage’s tradition of practice, and they offer pūja on the tenth and twenty-fifth days every month, without fail.

I have many gurus, all of whom have shown me great kindness. From among them, my principal gurus are Kyabje Jigdral Yeshé Dorjé, Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Kyabje Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Kyabje Dungsé Thinley Norbu Rinpoche, Kyabje Pema Norbu (Penor) Rinpoche, Kyabje Yangthang Rinpoche, Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche, the great ascetic Khenchen Pema Chöying Khyapdal, Khenchen Dawé Özer, and Khenchen Pema Tsewang.

Extracted from A Garland of White Lotuses: An Account of the Teaching and Teaching Holders of the Pal Drakmar Namkha Khyungdzong Tradition.

| Translated by Laura Swan, edited by Libby Hogg, 2021. First published on Lotsawa House, 2024.

Version: 1.0-20240225

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