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The Great Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche

3rd Jamgon Kongtrul Karma Lodro Chokyi Senge

Perfect guide of unequalled kindness whose aspirations, activity, and accomplishments for the precious Dharma and sentient beings in general, and the Kagyu lineage in particular, have been a wondrous light in these dark times. For this reason, his name is spoken with great reverence. As his last testament, the previous Jamgon Kongtrul Khyentse Ozer stated that his reincarnation would be in central Tibet and the household, parents, and time would be predicted by GyaIwa Karmapa.

Conditions of his birth

3rd Jamgon KongtrulJamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche was born on the first of October, 1954, the male horse year of the sixteenth cycle, in Lhasa, Tibet. His father was Tsering Tobgyal of Sadutshang, a prominent family and his mother was Pema Yudron, the daughter of Sawang Ngawang Jigme Ngabo, a cabinet minister in the Tibetan government. Before and after his birth, many wonderful signs appeared to his mother, and he was recognized without any doubt as the reincarnation of Jamgon Kongtrul by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Gyalwa Karmapa through the vision of their stainless wisdom.

When he was one year and five months old, Jamgon Yangsi Rinpoche was formally recognized and offered robes and his title. At the age of six, he was enthroned by His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa at the old monastery in Rumtek, Sikkim. From then onwards, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche as a heart son was inseparable from His Holiness, who supervised his education right from the very beginning, starting with reading, writing and memorizing texts.  At the age of thirteen, he received from His Holiness the 16th Karmapa, getsul vows along with Kunzig Shamarpa and Tai Situpa on the fifteenth day of Saga Dawa (the fourth Tibetan month) of the male fire horse year at Rumtek's Karma Shedrub Chokhorling (Dharma Chakra Center). At that time he received the name, Jamgon Kongtrul ( Karma Lodro Chokyi Senge Tenpay Gocha Ngedon Gyurme Trinley Kunkhyab Palzangpo).

Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche then studied a great number of texts, both in general and specifically with his teacher. His further studies also included all the tantras of Marpa’s tradition especially those of the Karma Kamtsang and the lama dances, preparation of mandalas, chanting and musical instruments pertaining to the practices of Padmasambhava, Vajrakilaya and others. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche received from Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, master siddha and the activity emanation of Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye, the teachings ranging from the Mahamudra Preliminary Practices of the Kamtsang tradition up to the empowerments, reading transmissions and explanations for Gyalwa Gyamtso, Demchok, Dorje Pagmo, and especially, the Six Yogas of Naropa, Mahamudra, The Five Golden Teachings of the Shangpa Kagyu, the great empowerments of Kalachakra Rinchen Terdzo, and at different times, countless other teachings of the new and old traditions.

At the age of twenty, on the fifteenth day of the first month (the month of miracles) in the female water ox year, he received full gelong vow at the Dharma Chakra Centre from His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, who acted as the khenpo (abbot) for the occasion since he was a master of qualities of discipline and learning, well-versed in the pitakas, the second Shakyamuni of this degenerate time, and leader of all those who held ordination. Believing them to be the very foundation of the Dharma, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche always guarded carefully those precious Vinaya rules, protecting them as if they were his own eyes. He gave the ordinations of getsul and gelong to about three thousand monks in India, Nepal, and Tibet, both the worlds of East and West, and so became a great holder of the Vinaya.

From His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche received the Bodhisattva vows, which are the foundation of the Mahayana path, from both traditions of Nagarjuna and Asanga. He continually practiced the many aspects of a bodhisattva's path - the six paramitas, the four ways of gathering disciples, and so forth - training in the extensive activity of the Bodhisattva, and manifesting as a great one himself. Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche had great faith, respect, and devotion for his spiritual teachers, the source of all paths and practice, and received from them many teachings of the sutra and tantra tradition. Especially, his relationship to the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, embodiment of all refuges, was one of total devotion, respect, and pure vision, which were greater than ever that for the Buddha himself. Rinpoche served His Holiness perfectly and received from him all the profound oral instructions, such as the Five Great Treasuries, all the empowerments, reading transmissions, and explanations of the Kamtsang Kagyu, the Root Text of Mahamudra, and so forth. In particular, the realization of Mahamudra, which is the heart blessing of the ultimate lineage, was transferred to him and he became a great siddha.


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