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TheTeachingsofChatralRinpoche

KyabjeChatralSangyeDorjeRinpocheisoneofthemost
accomplishedTibetanBuddhistyogisofourtime.In1947,he
hadtheloftystatusofbeingtheheadspiritualmasterofRegent
RetingthepoliticalleaderofTibetbuthehasalways
preferredtoliveasahumbleyogiinasimpledwellingwithout
thedistractionsoffameandfortune.Hepracticeswhathe
preacheswithoutcompromiseandasaresultisbeloved
throughouttheHimalayanregionbypeopleofallfaiths.

RinpochewasborninJuneof1913intheNyakAdziValleyin
Kham,TibettopiousmembersoftheAbsetribalgroupnamed
PemaDndrub(father)andSnamTso(mother).Thedayafter
Rinpochewasborn,alocallamanamedAseyBigoTulkuNyima
GyaltsencametoPemaandSonamshousetotellthemofa
visionhehadaboutRinpochesemergencethedaybeforein
whichawhitedonkeyloadeddownwithBuddhistscriptures
cametoPemaandSonamshouseanddeliveredthetextsto
them.Inaccordancewiththisvision,hebestowedthename
TrogyalDorje,whichmeansAdamantineWrathfulVictorious
One,toRinpoche.

ChatralRinpochesfamilymovedtoAmdowiththeirtribal
groupwhenhewasasmallchild.Atage15,Rinpochedecided
toleavehisfamilyinordertostudyandpracticeBuddhismwith
themastersofthearea.Thisactofrenunciationbeganhislife
longjourneyasacarefreeyogiseekingEnlightenmentatany
costinordertoeffectivelyhelpotherbeingswithcompassion.
Fromtheonset,Rinpochewashighlyprincipled,traveling
exclusivelyonfootandrefusingahorsewhenoffered.He
stayedonlyinhermitages,cavesorhissmalltenttoavoid
involvementwithhouseholdersandtheirworldly
preoccupations.
ChatralRinpochereceivedtransmissionsofthetermacycleof
TertonDudjomLingpa(18351903)fromtheTertonssonDorje
Dradl(18911959).RinpochewouldlaterbecometheVajra
RegentorChiefLineageHolderofthiscycleofteachings,
knownasDudjomTersar.AnotheroneofRinpochesmainearly
teacherswasKhandroDewaiDorje(18991952),whowasa
daughterinlawofTertonDudjomLingpa.Shepassedonto
RinpochethetermacycleteachingsofSeraKhandroandhe
becametheprincipallineageholderofthistraditionaswell.
Atthistime,ChatralRinpochemethisrootguru,Khenpo
NgawangPalzang(18791941)ofKathokMonastery.Thegreat
KhenpohadbeentheheartdiscipleofPatrulRinpochesmain
student,LungtokTenpaiNyima(18291901),andwas
consideredtobeamanifestationofthe9thCenturyDzogchen
masterVimalamitra.

KhenpoNgakchunggaveChatralRinpochemanyteachingsand
transmissionsparticularlyoftheLongchenNyinthigtradition
andforthenextsixyearsRinpochestudiedunderhim,
completinghisngndroandpracticingtrekchdandtgyal,
whicharesomeofthemostadvancedpracticesofDzogchen.
RinpochestudiedwithothermastersatKathokMonasteryas
well,inadditiontothegreatKhyentseChkyiLodr(18931959)
fromDzongsarMonastery,whichlikeKathokliesintheDerge
regionofKham.
KhenpoNgawangPalzangknewRinpochewasveryspecialand
acknowledgedhimtobehisclosestdisciple,explainingthat,
hismindandmymindarenodifferent.Hebestowedupon
RinpochethenameChatralSangyeDorje,whichmeans
IndestructibleBuddhawhohasAbandonedallMundane
Activities.

ThefirsttimeChatralRinpochesgreatnessbecamerevealedto
otherswasatalargeworshipserviceatKathokMonastery,
attendedbyseveralhighlamassittingonloftythrones.
Rinpochesatinthebackonasimplemeditationcushionwitha
fewhundredothermonks.KhenpoNgawangPalzangremarked
duringtheservice:
Amongallofyouheretoday,therearelessthantenpeople
whohaveonetenthofmyrealization.Then,therearelessthan
fiveofyouwhohavehalfofmyrealization.Finally,thereisonly
onepersonherewhoserealizationisnodifferentfrommine,
andheisChatralSangyeDorje.Hecannowrepresentmeto
transmittheteachingsandhismeritsarethesameasmine.
Thisproclamationcausedquiteastirintheassemblyhalland
afterwardpeoplecametocongratulateRinpoche.Preparations
beganforagrandceremonytohonorRinpocheinhisnew
status.Rinpochewasnotoneforallthisattentionandpraise
andsosnuckawayinthemiddleofthenightwithhistentto
continuehispracticealoneinthewilderness.Thenextday
whentheycametohonorhim,theyfoundhisroomemptywith
notraceofwherehewent.Onceagain,heliveduptohisname
Chatral,whichcanbetranslatedashermit.
ChatralRinpocheonceexplained,Weabidenowhere,we
possessnothing.Intheultimatesense,thisisaprofound
statementontheimpermanenceoflifeandemptinessofall
things.Intheconventionalsense,thisishowayogilikeChatral
RinpocheactuallylivedinTibet.Havingnohouseholdor
possessionstoweighononesmind,oneiscompletelyfreeto
practicetheDharma.Asfarastheseemingadversityof
physicaldiscomfortsandirregularmeals,DudjomRinpoche
explained,Whenrealizationbecomesasvastasspace,all
adverseconditionsariseasfriends.

In1937,theRegentkingofTibet,Reting,whowasthepolitical
leaderofthecountryuntilthecurrentDalaiLamacameofage,
requestedteachingsfromKhenpoNgawangPalzang.Khenpo
Ngakchungtoldhim,Iamtoooldnowfortransmitting
teachingstoyou.Ihaveadisciplewhosemindandrealization
isthesameasmineandheiscalledChatralSangyeDorje.You
cangoaskhimforteachings.

RegentRetinglookedalloverforRinpocheandfoundhim
meditatinginaremotemountaincave.Uponhearinghis
request,Rinpochereplied,Iamsorry,thereisnothingspecial
aboutmeandIhavenothingtoteachyou.Pleasegoelsewhere

forteachings!TheRegentthenproducedaletterbyKhenpo
Ngakchungtosupporthisrequest,andsoRinpochereluctantly
agreedtogotoLhasatoteachRegentReting.
PeoplefromalloverpouredintoLhasatomeetRinpocheand
getteachingsandblessingsfromhim.Thisincludedhigh
rankinglamas,politicalleadersandcommonlaypeople,who
mademanyofferingstoRinpoche.Naturally,hesawallofthis
attentionasadistractionforhisspiritualdevelopment.He
requestedtohavesometimetomeditateinaremoteareaaway
fromLhasa.TheRegentagreedandsentalargeentourageof
servantsandguardstoescortRinpocheonhisjourney.After
theyarrived,Rinpocheaskedthegroupofmentoreturnto
Lhasasohecouldmeditateinsolitude.TheRegentdidntlike
histeacherbeingalone,sosentsomeguardsbacktolocate
Rinpoche.Alongthewaytheyfoundapoorbeggardressedin
royalbrocaderobes.ChatralRinpochehadtradedhisfancy
outfitforbeggarsragsintrueyogistyle!
AnothergreatspiritualmasterwhocameintoChatral
RinpocheslifewasKyabjeDudjomRinpoche,JigdralYeshe
Dorje,whowasanincarnationofTertonDudjomLingpa.
DudjomRinpochetransmittedtoChatralRinpochethecomplete
cycleoftheDudjomTersarteachings,naminghimtheVajra
Regentofthetradition.
ChatralRinpochespentagreatdealofhistimepracticingin
cavesblessedbyGuruPadmasambhavathefounderof
TibetanBuddhismandauthorofthetermateachingsthatare
thebasisformanyofthelineagesoftheNyingmaSchool.
ChatralRinpocheisactuallyconsideredtobethemanifestation
ofGuruPadmasambhavasmind,duetoprophecieswritten
aboutRinpochesemergenceandhisprovenwisdom.

Inthelate1950s,ChatralRinpochemovedtoBhutan.Hewas
notforcedoutbytheeventsofMarch10th,1959likemany
otherTibetans,butwenttoBhutanonhisownfreewill.This
maybeindicativeofhisbeingthemanifestationofGuru
Padmasambhavasmind,asGuruPadmasambhavapredicted
thattheTibetanpeoplewouldbedisplacedfromtheirhomeland
attheadventofthemodernageandChatralRinpocheseemed
toknowthatthetimewasrightforhimtotraveltootherareas
intheHimalayas.Whenhewasaskedwhatthistripwaslikefor
him,hesmiledandreplied,Completelyfree,lightandhappy.
HetraveledtotheneighboringHimalayanregionofDarjeeling,
whereherestoredasimpletempleandturneditintoathree
yearmeditationretreatcenterforLongchenNyinthigpractice.
ThiswasthefirstsuchcenterbuiltbyaTibetanoutsideofTibet.
RinpochethenwenttosomeofthemajorBuddhistpilgrimage
sitesinIndia.WhilevisitingthesiteoftheBuddhas
Enlightenmentin1960,hemadeafirmcommitmentthatwould
becomeafamouspartofhisidentity.Hesaid,Iwentto
BodhgayaandmadeavowtoalltheBuddhasandBodhisattvas
togiveupmeatandalcohol.Rinpocheisquiteuniqueinhis
intenselydisciplinedstanceonthisissueandthisispartof
whatmakeshimsoreveredbythosewhoknowhim.
Afewyearslater,hemetKushoKamala,daughterofTerton
TulzhokLingpa,whobecamehissangym.Theyhavetwo
daughters,SaraswatiandTaraDevi.Saraswatiservesashis
mainassistantandspeaksfluentEnglish.Sheisconsideredto
beanemanationofthedakiniSeraKhandro.
In1968inDarjeeling,ChatralRinpochehadafamousmeeting
withtheTrappistmonkFatherThomasMerton,anadvanced
ZenBuddhistpractitionerheldinhighregardbyother

Buddhists.Afterthemeeting,Mertonwaslateroverheard
sayingThatisthegreatestmanIevermet.Heismyteacher.
ChatralRinpochewasrelentlessinhisstudyandpractice.In
India,hereceivedteachingsfromKaluRinpoche,whobecame
hisclosefriend,andthe16thKarmapaRangjungRigpeDorje.

Hereceivedteachingsfromoveronehundredmastersinall,
frommanytraditionsofTibetanBuddhism.Thebreadthofhis
scholarshipisevidentinhiswriting,ashequotestextsfroma
myriadoftraditionstosupportthepointshemakesinhis
essays.
ChatralRinpochehasfoundedorrestoredmeditationretreat
centersinBhutan,IndiaandNepalaswellasoverseenthe
constructionofseveralstupas.DudjomRinpocheconsecrated
ChatralRinpochescenterinDarjeelingin1962andaroundten
yearslaterhelpedRinpochestartacenterinYangleshd,Nepal,
whichhethoughtwouldbeaveryauspiciousplacesinceGuru
Padmasambhavadidsomeimportantpracticesthere.This
monastery,whichliesontheouterrimoftheKathmanduValley
andisknownasRigzinDrubpeGhatsal,wasoneofRinpoches
primaryresidencesformanyyears.Comparedtomanyother

lamaswhohavelavish,spaciousquarters,Rinpoches
residencehereisincrediblyhumbleandcozy.
ManythousandsofpeopleintheHimalayanregionconsider
Rinpochetobetheirrootgurubecausethroughhis
compassionateactionandprofoundwisdom,heisaperfect
embodimentoftheBuddhasteachings.However,heisvery
selectiveaboutthoseheactuallygivesteachingsto.Heisfully
awarethatmostofthepeoplewhoaskhimforteachingsare
notafractionasseriousabouttheirpracticeasheis,so
doesntbothertowastethepreciousnectarofhisteachingson
anunsuitablevessel.Rinpocheexplains,Therearethreekinds
ofDharmapractitioners:firstly,therearethosewholooklike
practitionersoutwardly,butinwardlytheyarenotreal
practitionerssecondly,therearethosewhotalkveryhigh,but
havenorealizationatallthirdlytherearethosewhodonot
looklikepractitionersoutwardly,butwhoareinfactgenuine
practitionersinside.Rinpochethereforewillnottransmitany
higherlevelteachingstothosewhohavestudiedwithhimfor
lessthansixyearssufficienttimeforthemtoprove
themselvesasgenuinepractitioners.
Westernersespeciallyaretreatedwithsuspicion.Toomany
comewantingtheultimateteachingsofDzogchenwithout
beingremotelyqualifiedtoreceiveorunderstandthem.Thereis
astoryofawealthypersonfromtheUnitedStateswhocameto
RinpocheandsetbigstacksofAmericandollarsinfrontofhim,
sayingthatifRinpochegavehimDzogchenteachings,thenhe
wouldgivehimallofthismoney.Rinpochetoldhimbrisklyto
takehismoneyawayanddeclinedtogivehimteachingsashe
couldsensethemanwasnotattheproperstagetounderstand
Dzogchen.Thesacredteachingscancertainlynotbebribed
onemustearntherighttoreceivethem.

IntheLongchenNyinthigtradition,itisnotuncommonfor
higherlevelteachingstobepassedontoonlyoneortwoofa
mastersmostdedicatedandgifteddisciples.KhenpoNgawang
PalzangsrootguruNyoshulLungtoktransmittedsomeofthe
LongchenNyinthigteachingsandempowermentstothegreat
Khenpoexclusively.Thesetypesofteachingsareregardedas
secretandarepreservedbyadirectonetoonetransmission
fromarealizedmastertoafullyqualifieddisciple.
Sincethereareveryfewpeoplequalifiedtoreceiveteachings
likethis,ChatralRinpochedoesnotspendalotofhistime
givingteachings.Instead,hetirelesslyengagesinvirtuous
activity,culminatinginhisfamousannualtriptoCalcutta,India,
wherehefreesseventytruckloadsoflivefishbackintoapartof
theIndianOceanwherefishingisprohibited,prayingforevery
one.

Hereceivesdonationsfromaroundtheworldforthisgreatact
ofcompassion,whichisthesubjectofoneofhisessaysinthis
book.Still,heisverysupportiveofseriouspractitioners,
travelingtohisdifferentretreatcentersasoftenashecanto
checkontheirprogress.
ChatralRinpochealsograciouslyoffersguidancetothosefrom
otherfaithswhomeetwithhim.WhenanAnglicanpriestasked
himforateachingrecently,Rinpochesaid,Justdecidewhatis
themostimportantthingJesuseversaid,andthentakeitasfar
asyoucan.Thisturnedouttobethemostprofoundadvicethe
priesthadeverreceivedanditservedtodeepenhis
understandingofChrist.
ChatralRinpochemakesappearancestosupporthisdisciples
throughdreamsandvisions.In1997,LamaTharchinRinpoche
wasbeginningaweekendretreatinSanFrancisco,whenhe
toldhisstudentsthatChatralRinpochehadappearedina
dreamandaskedLamaTharchinandhisstudentsto
accumulateonehundredmillionrecitationsofGuru
Padmasambhavassevenlineprayerinordertoremove
obstaclestoLamaTharchinshealth,tobenefitallbeingsand
helpbringpeacetotheworldduringthisdegenerateage.
FollowingtheTibetanNewYearin2000,hundredsofpious
BuddhistsgatheredatRinpochescenterinYangleshdfrom
differentpartsoftheHimalayanregion,requestingRinpoches
blessingsforthenewmillennium.Theycampedoutintents
nearhismonasteryandwaitedpatientlyfordays.Atthemost
auspicioustime,Rinpochegavethemallalonglifeinitiation.
Aftertheinitiation,thegroupsangbeautifulsongspraisingthe
greatactivitiesandgloryoftheirexaltedmasteranddanced
joyfully.

ChatralRinpocheisrenownedforbeingincorruptibleand
insistentondoingthingstherightway.IntheTibetanBuddhist
tradition,whensomeonedies,itisstandardtoleavethemfor
threedaystoallowampletimefortheconsciousnesstoleave
thebodyandhopefullyenterintoaPurelandrealmoratleasta
highrebirth.AccordingtoSogyalRinpoche,[Chatral
Rinpoche]toldpeoplewhowerecomplainingthatacorpse
mightsmellifitwaskeptinhotweather[forthreedays]Its
notasthoughyouhavetoeatit,ortrytosellit.
ChatralRinpocheslegendwillundoubtedlyliveonformany
generations.In2003,hewashonoredasoneofthemost
influentialfiguresinNepalduringaceremonyinKathmandu.
SinceRinpocheisalreadyfullyrealized,hedidntworryabout
theattentionandpraiseofthiseventaffectinghispracticethis
timeandattendedtheceremonyalongwithmanyofhis
studentsandfriends.Showingthatheisstillacarefreeyogiat
heart,heworeatraditionalNepalitopihatduringtheceremony
likelyafirstforaTibetanBuddhistmaster!
DespitetheadulationofcountlessthousandsintheHimalayan
region,Rinpocheremainsashumbleasever.Heoncesaid,
Iamjustanordinarysentientbeingandthereisnothing
specialaboutme.IjustfollowtheteachingsofLordBuddha.
Withoutanycheatingonmypart,Istandfirmlyonthegroundin
practicingtheDharmaandinhelpingallsentientbeings.Iwish
thatallsentientbeingscouldletgooftheactsofselfdeception
andselfaggrandizement,sothattheycanreallypracticethe
Dharmainordertoliberatethemselvesfromcyclicexistence
andtohelpothersentientbeings.Otherwise,itwillbetoolate
whentheyarefeelingremorseful!

OnDecember30th,2015,KyabjeChatralSangyeDorjebegin
thetransitiontoParinirvana.Heremainedintukdammeditation
untilJanuary5th,2016,whenheattainedParinirvana.Reada
tributefromDzongsarKhyentseRinpochehere.