The Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies in Ashland, Oregon, announced that Venerable Dhomang Gyatrul Rinpoche, one of the last great Nyingma masters of his generation, passed away on April 8.
“It is with heavy hearts that we inform the greater Sangha community, and especially all close-hearted disciples, that our precious and beloved master, Venerable Dhomang Gyatrul Rinpoche, passed into paranirvana on April 8, 2023 at 2:30 a.m. morning at his home in Half Moon Bay, California,” the Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies said in a public announcement. “Rinpoche was surrounded by his family members, loved ones and his personal doctor. A week before Rinpoche died, he stopped eating and drinking; meanwhile he rested and slept peacefully. Rinpoche is currently resting in tukdam meditation. Thus, Rinpoche displayed his final teaching indicating the importance of the crucial passage from life to death.
Gyatrul Rinpoche was born in 1924 in what is now Sichuan Province, China. He was recognized as a tulku at the age of seven by Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and Tulku Natsok Rangrol, and trained at Payul Dhomang Monastery in eastern Tibet.
Gyatrul Rinpoche spent many years in solitary retreat before fleeing to India in 1959, where he lived for 12 years. Gyatrul Rinpoche then moved to the United States, where he was appointed spiritual representative of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche.
Rinpoche was instrumental in establishing many Nyingma centers across the United States including Tashi Choling in Oregon, Orgyen Dorje Den in the San Francisco Bay Area, Norbu Ling in Texas, Namdroling in Montana and a center in Ensenada, Mexico.
A prolific author, Gyatrul Rinpoche also shared a wealth of profound Vajrayana teachings in written form. His books include: Meditation, transformation and dream yoga (Shambhala Publications 2002); Generate Divinity (Snow Lion Publications 1992); and a comment on Natural Liberation: The Teachings of Padmasambhava on the Six Bardos (Wisdom Publications 1998).
"We are all very aware of the exceptional life that Rinpoche lived and how Rinpoche devoted himself to the propagation (of) Buddhadharma, especially as a pioneer in the West in the 1970s to the present day" , said the Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies. observed. “We are eternally grateful for Rinpoche's example, kindness, vajra presence, teachings and blessings of wisdom that have been part of our lives for so many years. »
In a public message shared with BDG, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, founder and spiritual leader of the Mangala Shri Bhuti organization in Boulder, Colorado, and a tulku in the Longchen Nyingtik and Khen-Kong-Chok-Sum lineages of the Nyingma tradition, offered the following memorial to Gyatrul Rinpoche's parinirvana:
Today, a great master of the Dzogpa Chenpo lineage has moved on to parinirvana. I want to take this opportunity to say how much Gyatrul Rinpoche has personally inspired me. I have known Gyatrul Rinpoche since my early twenties. He was a lama with such ease and a great sense of humor, always pulling people's legs. In this, there were countless little teachings to reflect on and come out with a great gift of diamonds, if one wanted. When I first moved to America with a young child, due to Elizabeth's parents' relationship with Gyatrul Rinpoche as their root teacher, he embraced me warmly with great kindness. Since then, he has been a huge source of inspiration.
He was always very low key and humble, never projecting the air of someone who possessed the great wisdom and knowledge he possessed. He gave his life in service of the Dharma in the West 110%. With utmost devotion, he served many great masters such as the 16th Karmapa, Dudjom Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche, Yangtang Rinpoche and Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche. With immense love for his Western students, he asked these great masters to turn the Wheel of Dharma, which they did.
During this time he himself taught the Dharma to many students such as Sangye Khandro and Allan B. Wallace, who themselves are eminent and highly accomplished teachers today. He also built temples like Tashi Choling and Orgyen Dorje Den, filling them with relics, Dharma treasures and volumes of precious texts. With everything and anything, Gyatrul Rinpoche engaged with great devotion and love of Dharma for the benefit of sentient beings.
There are many teachers in my life whom I have known to possess great wisdom and knowledge. However, someone who could read other people's minds unobstructed, as seamlessly as looking at the palm of their hand – there are very few. Gyatrul Rinpoche was one of them. A few years ago, I went to see him in Half Moon Bay to discuss a subject close to my heart and to receive his advice. Before I could open my mouth and convey what I wanted to talk to him about, he already knew it and gave me a very appropriate, helpful and relevant answer.
He had been in this world for almost a century, living until the late 90s according to the Tibetan calendar. In all his activities, Gyatrul Rinpoche was exemplary in bringing about the welfare of sentient beings. Even in his death, he wanted his remains to be a gift of generosity to sentient beings. That sums up who he was – not wasting a single drop of blood or an ounce of flesh for the benefit of beings.
It was a great honor and privilege to be present during his last breaths in this world and to witness his parinirvana. I pray that his reincarnation will flourish auspiciously and appropriately in the lake of devotion of the students of this lineage.
I would like to thank Mimi and her healthcare team for all the love and care they gave me with great tenderness and devotion. I speak for myself and for many other teachers in the gratitude felt for such service.
Thank you very much,
On April 8, the Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies held a special Kunzang Nyima Vajrasattva practice in honor of Gyatrul Rinpoche, a recording of which is currently accessible here. A traditional 49-day ceremony will take place at Tashi Choling as well as at monasteries in Asia. Details of planned activities and practices at Tashi Choling and Orgyen Dorje Den in honor of Gyatrul Rinpoche can be found here.
In his introduction to the 1999 translation of the historical text by Jamgon Kongtrul The teacher-student relationshipGyatrul Rinpoche wrote:
All teachers must eventually leave this world, just like the Buddha himself. Yet the lineage we still receive, the legacy of their enlightened consciousness, is passed down from generation to generation through the teachings that remain. Since this is inevitable, what we must call a lineage in their physical absence is the blessing of their unbroken lineage of teachings. This is what we are supposed to bequeath to our generation and future generations. If we were to depend solely on the physical presence of the teacher, then the lineages would have been lost long ago. The Buddha said, “I will reveal the path that leads to liberation. You have to practice the path in order to attain liberation.