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H.E.Lopon Tanzin Namdag Rinpoche

H.E.Lopon Tanzin Namdag Rinpoche

Lopon Tanzin Namdag Rinpoche.
Following the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Menri and most of the other important Bön monasteries were destroyed. The Cultural Revolution was particularly difficult, with the Chinese burning many Bonpo texts and melting religious statues, so that this period could be termed the third persecution of Bön. Several Bonpo lamas fled to ndia and Nepal, including Lopon Tenzin Namdak (sLob- dpon: Head Teacher bsTan-dzin rNam dag) former chief tutor (dPon-slob) of Menri monastery in Tibet, and founder of Triten Norbutse monastery and of its Dialectics school. As the reader will see, some periods and years are treated briefly in the outline below while other years, during which Lopon traveled significantly, have been given in greater detail.

926 Born in Kyung-po dkar-ru, Kham, in a family known for thanka painters

1933 Entered sTeng-chen monastery in Khyung-po dKar-ru

1938 Travelled to Yungdrung Ling monastery

1941-43 Engaged in producing wall-paintings at the new temple at Yungdrung Ling

1944 Traveled on pilgrimage to Nepal via Shar-Khumbu to Kathmandu and thence to Pokhara, and Mustang, then back to Mount Kailash in Tibet before returning to Yungdrung Ling

1945 Began tsanyid studies at Yungdrung Ling

1945-50 Led a hermitís life on an island in a lake in the northern region of Byang-thang together with his revered teacher sGang-ru dPon-slob Tshul-khrims rGyal-mtshan Rinpoche, who taught him grammar, poetry, dul-ba (vinaya), mdzod-phug (cosmogony) and sa-lam (the graduated path to enlightenment)

1950 Returned to Menri on his teacherís advice to complete his geshe studies (comparable to a western doctorate in theology)

1953 Obtained geshe degree from Menri

1953-57 Was Lopon (head teacher) of Menri

1957-60 Retired from his post as Lopon and stayed in the monastery of Se-zhig near Dang-ra lake

1960 Spent ten months under Chinese custody, after which he escaped to Nepal via Mustang, making his way to Kathmandu where he stayed for some months at gNa-sbyin monastery

1961-64 Visiting scholar at London and Cambridge universities in England under the Rockefeller Foundation scheme. In collaboration with professor David Snellgrove, published The Nine Ways of Bönin English.

1964 Employed as a Tibetan expert by the American Library of Congress, New Delhi and engaged in publishing Bonpo texts

1965-67 Engaged in searching for a site for a Bonpo settlement in India

1967 Started the Bonpo settlement of Tob-rgyal gsar-pa in Himachal Pradesh

1969 Visiting scholar at Munich University working on a German-Tibetan dictionary

1970-77 Engaged in teaching, and in writing and publishing Bonpo texts

1978 Visited H.H. Dalai Lama to inform him of the purpose of establishing the Bonpo settlement at Dolanji and its Dialectics school with nine-year programme, and to request the official recognition by the Tibetan Government of Menri Trizin Rinpoche, Abbot of Menri Yungdrung monastery, as Head of the Bönreligion. In that year he also conducted the funerary and post-mortem rites following the death of his master Lopon Sangye Tenzin.

1978-86 Engaged in educating the young monks at Dolanji as well as writing several texts, including some of those used in the Dialectics school.

1986 Awarded the geshe degree to the first six monks to complete the nine-year training at Dolanji. Travelled to Tibet, visiting Menri and other important monasteries, inspiring the monks still living there who had suffered under the Chinese domination and rewarding those who had strived to restore the monasteries; visited kLuPhug monastery in Hor where he met Ragshi rTogsldan Rinpoche with whom he exchanged important empowerments and where he also ordained about 70 monks; and sPa-tshang monastery, where he met Khabo rTogsldan Rinpoche from whom he received the lung (transmission) of Minub Mtshanmdo.
In Khyungpo he went to dKarlegs monastery where he conferred the Matri initiation on the local people; Rirtse Drug monastery where he inaugurated the Dialectics school (on this auspicious occasion he taught for 16 days on Bönand Vinaya), and ordained about 100 monks; gYungdrung dPalri monastery for a few days, where on request he performed the Byang-bu (a kind of phío-ba) for the people who had died and also ordained about 40 monks; then went to Kodgon monastery and taught Theg-rim for about 20 days, where he also gave the Long-life initiation and ordained about 60 monks.
Then he went to Ri-khrod monastery for 16 days, where he gave the lung of the Zhang Zhung Nyan Gyud and taught on Bön and Vinaya, conferred vows to about 80 ordained monks and gave the rNam-dag Padma kLong Yangs initiation to local people. He enthroned Shesrab dGelegs as Abbot of sTengchen monastery, and also offered donations of money and other things for the restoration of the monastery, at the time in a state of disrepair.
Subsequently he was reunited with his mother for the first time after 45 years. After returning to Lhasa he flew to Chengdu (in China) where he visited temples, Byamspa Chugzigs and the holy mountain of gLangchen Gyingri, proceeding to Amdo Shar-khog where he visited all the monasteries, giving initiations and teachings, and also went to gSertsho (Golden Lake).
At Amdo rNga-ba he made offerings and prayers before the gDung-bum (mChod-rten) of his deceased disciple sTanpa Rabrgyas (clan lineage holder and head of sNangzhig, the biggest Bön monastery in Tibet, with at the time over 500 resident monks) offering tea and money to all the monks, encouraging the Lama and older monks and advising them on how to administer the monastery.
Then from Lhasa he returned to Kathmandu, where he donated all the money he had received in Tibet for the acquisition of the land and for the construction of Triten Norbutse.

1988 Despite contracting jaundice he continued his regular teaching programme. Moved into the first buildings at Triten Norbutse.

1989 Travelled to USA, where the Healing Light Center in Los Angeles generously paid his hospital costs for an operation to extract six gall-stones after which he was completely cured. He also visited England and taly on the invitation of the Dzogchen Community of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, where he taught Dzogchen


1992 Returned to Dolanji for the geshe examinations and to give the Ma Gyud initiation; also enthroned the Abbot of Triten Norbutse monastery, in the presence of Menri Trizin Rinpoche. He also visited Tibet again, on a pilgrimage in the Lhasa area, proceeding to Nag-chu in Kham where he gave teachings and initiations as well as at Lung-dkar monastery in Hor where he gave the sMra-bíi seng-ge (sMra-seng) initiation and vows to about 70 monks.
Also visited sPa-tshang and sPu-la-kha monasteries, then returned to sTeng-chen monastery in Khyung-po, which had been rebuilt since his previous visit in 1986. He remained there a while, giving the sMra-seng initiation and teaching Vinaya to the monks.
After visiting other areas he met his mother again. At gYung-drung dPal-ri monastery he did Byang-bu and conferred higher vows on eight ordained monks. At Ko-dgon monastery he taught Theg-rim, Tantra and Zhine for several days. Also visited other places in Khyung-po; at Khrom-tshang he gave genyen vows and initiations to many lay-people.
Then he returned to Lhasa, where he bought a piece of land to build a Reception House for the many Bonpos living in the city to meet and assemble.

1993 Went to the USA where he taught at the first year of the seven-year programme of Ligmincha Institute founded by Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche. He also gave teachings at several other cities in the USA, Holland, Austria and Germany. Later that year he appointed a Lama as head of the Reception House in Lhasa.
1994 Travelled to Lhasa and Nagchug. On returning to Triten Norbutse he performed the rabgnas inauguration and blessing of the new gompa, also attended by Menri Trizin Rinpoche, and officially inaugurated the Dialectics school and Meditation Group.

1995 Travelled to Holland, Austria and Germany to teach Dzogchen.

1996 Travelled to USA to teach on the 21 Nails at Ligmincha nstitute. He also gave teachings at several other cities in the USA, Holland, Austria and Germany.

1997 Travelled to Italy and France to teach Dzogchen

1998 Travelled to Austria, Germany, France, Holland, Denmark and USA to teach Dzogchen