“When love and compassion based on altruism flower in this world, then this world will be full of good outcomes.” – The 8th Dorzong Rinpoche
Precise details of the birth of the present Dorzong Rinpoche were foretold very clearly by the Seventh Kyabje Drukpa Yongdzin Rinpoche, the root teacher of the Seventh Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche. These details were also given by the Eighth Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche and by a well-known realized master, Kyabje Agon Rinpoche, of the Drikung Lineage, in a remote place in Central Tibet.
At the time of conception of the Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, his mother dreamt that she was standing in a spacious valley full of yellow flowers; in the sky to the East there was a long carpet of white clouds bearing many lamas. Their red hats were of an unfamiliar design to her. In the center sat a very young, beautiful-looking lama on his throne. He wore white cotton robes and a white hat with a high pointed crown. The young lama was looking at her with an expression of delight.
Immediately she was suffused with uncontrollable devotion and plucked a large bouquet of yellow flowers and offered them to the young lama and the other lamas.
Since the night of that dream she felt the new life within her. Almost three years later, when she attended her son’s enthronement (the present Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche), at Dorzong Monastery, she saw the Drukpa Kagyu meditation hat for the first time in her life and recognized it from her dream. And when she described the high-crowned white hat worn by the central young lama, the senior lamas at Dorzong Monastery told her that this was Rechunpa’s hat. The origin of the Dorzong emanations is Vajrapani, Ananda, Palgyi Dorje, one of the 25 chief disciples of Padmasambhava and Rechungpa, one of the two main lineage holders of Milarepa’s teachings.
Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche was born in early summer, at sunrise. A fine drizzle fell from a thin cloud and rainbows appeared over the family home. The people of Ngeyul village felt certain that the child was a tulku when seeing these special signs. That same morning a lotus design appeared on the water’s surface in four of the seven offering bowls in the family shrine room. The pattern descended and became indelibly embedded in the base of the bell-metal bowls. These treasured family possessions were destroyed at the time of the Cultural Revolution in Tibet.
Also on the same morning a pair of ravens suddenly appeared and perched on the family’s roof. There they stayed until the day the infant Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche was taken to his monastery. It was later discovered that these were the same ravens, that normally lived on the roof of the protectors’ gonkhang at Dorzong Monastery, in Gon Jo, but had disappeared at the time of Dorzong Rinpoche’s birth. This monastery was founded during the reign of the Fourth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, when the people of Gon Jo had asked that another monastery be established in their area. This new monastery was a two-day horse ride from Ngeyul.
The Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche was enthroned at the age of three. From five years old he began to study. In reading, writing and memorizing he showed exceptional aptitude. When he was seven, he visited Khampagar Monastery to meet the Eighth Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche. At his time the “Great Practice of Padmasambhava Sadhana” was being performed at the Khampagar Monastery. This sadhana is held every 12 years and takes almost one month to complete. The young Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche joined in the practice and completed the ritual entirely from memory. A large assembly witnessed this feat and the feeling was that this young Rinpoche was exceptional.
From that year Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche began to receive Drukpa Kagyu initiations, teachings and higher practices from Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche. At the age of eight, Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche received teachings of all traditions, especially on Mahamudra and Mahasandhi from Kyabje Ragtul Rinpoche, a Nyingmapa lama who was highly respected by masters of all schools. Also from this age, he started to learn basic Buddhist doctrines and texts on the three types of vows. He studied texts written by Shantideva and other Bodhisattvas and the three main philosophy texts of Madhyamika with Venerable Tulku Tashi Namgyal and Venerable Drayab Khenpo Lodru, one of the most famous Sakya Khenpos of that period in Kham.
When he was nine, he received special Mahamudra and Dzogchen meditation practice and was guided through these experiences by the Kyabje Ragtul Rinpoche (one of the most respected non-sectarian masters of that period) and was also given the full set of Kagyu tantric treasures teachings (Kagyu Ngag Dzod), as well as all the Namchoe terma transmissions. Additionally, he received three main Nyingma practices of the tutelary deities of Padmasambhava, which were discovered in the eleventh century and also the full teaching of Tsele Natsog Rangdol. At this time he received all the ancient 100.000 tantric teachings of the Nyingma Lineage transmission (Nyingma rgyud ’bum) from Venerable Rongmi Lama Gedun.
At the age of fourteen he entered Khampagar Monastery’s Institute for Higher Studies and studied under the great Khenpo Pema Tharchin from Kathog, the ancient Nyingma Monastery. Under this eminent Khenpo he learned the Madhyamika and the two main Abhidharma Kosha texts, as well as Buddhist philosophical texts by Kyabje Mipham Rinpoche. In his examination, he always stood first in his class.
Once Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche was invited by the people of Rongmi to visit their area near the original Dorzong Monastery. In this region there lies a range of jagged mountains the Yongten Ritra (“Bright Mountain of Good Attributes”), and many lakes of which it is said that treasure teachings of Padmasambhava are still hidden there. The party halted in a meadow where the local nomads brought them yogurt and milk. The sky was clear and blue. Then, as they sat doing prayers, two banks of clouds appeared in the sky above them. Then, one after another, wisps of ribbon-straight clouds emerged from one cloudbank and floated parallel to join the other, in all nine perfectly formed strips. The people gathered there were amazed. After a long period of awed silence, the nine straight wisps returned in succession to be reabsorbed in the cloudbank. Then the two cloudbanks merged and there was a roll of thunder and a shower of rain fell. The nomadic elders agreed that they had never seen such a phenomenon before. On hearing the story, one of Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche’s first root gurus, Kyabje Ragtul Rinpoche explained that since the local gods, protecting Padmasambhava’s teachings have connections with the previous Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche these clouds had been a scarf offering from these nine gods of the area to welcome the young tulku on his first visit there.
In 1958, Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche decided to leave Tibet for India and asked Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche, then 15, to join him. Their journey was via Lhasa where they had an audience with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Then they made a pilgrimage to the holy places of Central Tibet before they finally reached India through Sikkim. From 1959 on they stayed in Kalimpong where Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche established Zandok Palri temple and with the support of Sikkimese, Bhutanese and local Tibetan devotees was able to take up again dharma activities, including lama dances.
Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche immediately resumed his studies of philosophy and the Buddhist sutra and tantra teachings with Venerable Khenpo Thupchoe and Venerable Khenpo Tsondue of the Nyingmapa school and with Venerable Sakyapa Khenpo Rinchen. Until the establishment of Tashi Jong in 1969, Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche moved between Kalimpong, Dalhousie and Kangra. In this period he received initiations, Mahamudra teachings and instructions from The Eighth Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche. He also received numerous initiations, teachings and instructions from His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa and Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. In 1969 he became Khenpo (abbot of the educational institute for monks) of the Drukpa Kagyu Institute at Tashi Jong.
Then in 1971, because of Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche´s arduous schedule and health problems, the people of Tashi Jong requested Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche to become Vice-President of Khampagar Monastery and of the Tashi Jong Community. When Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche passed away in 1980 he was asked to stand as President.
In that position he performed all the consultations and arrangements for the recognition of the reincarnation of the present Ninth Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche in conjunction with His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa and Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. The enthronement was performed in 1983. Both as Regent of The Eighth Kyabje Khamtrul Rinpoche and President of Khampagar Monastery in India and of Tashi Jong Tibetan Community, Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche worked twenty-one years with selfless compassion, wisdom and great energy for the betterment of the monastery and lay people community. Along with the consolidation of the craft art center and cultured activities, he introduced a proper health center, kindergarten and an Institute for Higher Studies. Later in the 1990’s, he received a complete series of initiations of the Drukpa Lineage from the late Kyabje Trulshik Adeu Rinpoche.
In combination with all these activities Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche always practised meditation and lineage teachings with unbroken diligence and purity, which qualify him as an authentic Drukpa Kagyu lineage holding Master.
By 1984 it become possible for Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche to return to Tibet and visit his monastery. There he was invited to give teachings throughout the region at monasteries of all schools of Tibetan Buddhism and he greatly helped practitioners by giving initiations and teachings, which provided the missing links in their practice.
He also traveled to many countries giving lectures and teachings, from which some remarkable communities and dharma practitioners started.
Besides practising teachings of the Drukpa lineage, Rinpoche has also practised many teachings of other Tibetan Buddhism lineages. The Eighth Kyabje Dorzong Rinpoche is one of the most learned, practised and highly recognized Lamas among the Tibetan Buddhist teachers living today. He is one of the most respected Drukpa Kagyu lineage holders Rinpoche for his realization both at home and in exile.