Remembering Tenga Rinpoche, a Kagyu Kālacakra master

I am currently on a practise, study and translation retreat at the stunning Benchen monastery, Pharping, Nepal.  The two Benchen Monasteries, in Kathmandu and Pharping, Nepal, are the seats of HE the 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and also HE Tenga Rinpoche (1932-2012).   Tenga Rinpoche is one of the foremost teachers of the Karma Kagyu tradition, and was for many years the Vajra-master (rdo rje slob dpon) at Rumtek monastery in Sikkim, the Indian seat of His Holiness Gyalwang Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu tradition. 

Benchen Monastery and its retreat centre is situated just below the sacred Asura Caves where the Indian saint, Padmasambhava spent many years meditating.  Next to the retreat centre is a kudung stupa housing some of the relics of Tenga Rinpoche. When he passed away he stayed in a meditative state thugdam for four and a half days and left several relics. For more details about his passing away, see here

Tenga Rinpoche in thugdam meditation

The stupa design was by HH 17th Karmapa and inside is a Tara Mandala and some of the most beautiful paintings of White Tara and Green Tara (surrounded by the twenty-one Taras) I have ever seen. For a video of the consecration of the stupa in 2014, see here.




In 2005, Tenga Rinpoche gave a Kālacakra empowerment marking the tenth anniversary of the establishment of his Buddhist centre in Grabnik, Poland, Ven. Tenga Rinpoche performed a major Kālacakra empowerment, “The Seven Empowerments Raising the Child”, together with the three abbreviated Ultimate Empowerments. This was the first time that this initiation had been given in its full form in Poland.

The empowerment that Rinpoche gave in Poland is from the main tradition passed in the Karma Kagyu school. This lineage was originally derived from the Jonang tradition, and was later developed in the Karma Kagyu by the famous Jamgon Kongtrul. The text that Tenga Rinpoche used for the empowerment (Drawing Out the Essence of the Ocean of Primordial Awarenessye shes rgya mtsho’i bcud ‘dren)) was written by Jamgon Kongtrul, based on the earlier work of the Jonangpas Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen and Tāranātha. This empowerment was first given in the West (1982) by Ven. Kalu Rinpoche, himself considered an emanation of Jamgon Kongtrul. Kalu Rinpoche passed the tradition on to Bokar Rinpoche and other Kagyu lamas such as Tenga Rinpoche. For more on this see the short post here on Edward Henning’s website.

For a CD of teachings given by Tenga Rinpoche on Kālacakra see here:

The reincarnation of Tenga Rinpoche was discovered in 2014 by HH 17th Karmapa, for information about that extraordinary story see here, and his recognition ceremony with the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa at Benchen Monastery see here.

May the current 10th Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and Tenga Rinpoche yangsi live long and may the teachings of Karma Kagyu and Kālacakra thrive and flourish!


Free Online: New Translation of ‘Calling the Lama from Afar’ by Jamgon Kongtrul the First.

Wonderful to read this new translation of Calling the Lama From Afar (བླ་མ་རྒྱང་འབོད་ཀྱི་གསོལ་འདེབས་ མོས་གུས་སྙིང་གི་གཟེར་འདེབས། ) by Michele Martin; an important and beautiful supplication text in the Kagyu and Rimey tradition by Jamgon Kongtrul the First (‘jam mgon kong sprul yon tan rgya mtsho)  (1813-1899).  The text is available to download for free at the excellent online resource Dharma E-books.

As many of you may be aware, Jamgon Kongtrul was a huge admirer and student of the Jonang and Kālacakra shared the same Jonang lama,  Ngawang Chopel (sngags dbang chos ‘phel) as another great Jonang and Rimey master, Bamda Gelek Gyatso.  He spent many years studying at the main Jonang monastery in Dzamthang and was such a fan of the Jonang master,Tāranātha, that he not only copied many of his texts verbatim in his magnus opus, a Treasury of Knowledge but also commemorated his life and works annually.

In this beautiful text calling on the lineage masters and lamas, Kongtrul mentions both Jonang masters, Dolpopa and Tāranātha in the supplication as well as masters of other lineages, such as the Nyingma master Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo.

I reproduce that part of the text below:

༡༨ | 18

ཀུན་མཁྱེན་དོལ་པོ་སངས་རྒྱས་མཁྱེན་ནོ། །

kun khyen döl po sang gye khyen no

Omniscient Dölpo Sangye,23 think of us.

རྣམ་ཀུན་མཆོག་ལྡན་དབྱིངས་ནས་གཟིགས་ཤིག །

nam kun chok den ying ne sik shik

Behold us from the space endowed with the supreme aspect.24

འཕོ་བའི་དབུགས་རྣམས་དབུ་མར་འགགས་ནས། །

po way uk nam u mar gak ne

Help us to bring shifting breath into the central channel

འཕོ་བྲལ་རྡོ་རྗེའི་སྐུ་ཐོབ་མཛོད་ཅིག །

po dral dor jey ku top dzö chik

And thus attain the immovable vajra body.

༡༩ | 19

རྗེ་བཙུན་ཏཱ་ར་ན་ཐ་མཁྱེན་ནོ། །

je tsun tā ra na ta khyen no

Jetsun Taranatha,25 think of us.

རྣམ་གསུམ་ཕོ་ཉའི་དབྱིངས་ནས་གཟིགས་ཤིག །

nam sum po nyay ying ne sik shik

Behold us from the space of the three messengers.

རྡོ་རྗེའི་གསེང་ལམ་གེགས་མེད་བགྲོད་ནས། །

dor jey seng lam gek me drö ne

Help us to travel the vajrayana path free of obstacles

འཇའ་ལུས་མཁའ་སྤྱོད་འགྲུབ་པར་མཛོད་ཅིག །

ja lu kha chö drup par dzö chik

And attain a rainbow body in the celestial realm.

༢༠ | 20

འཇམ་དབྱངས་མཁྱེན་བརྩེའི་དབང་པོ་མཁྱེན་ནོ། །

jam yang khyen tsey wang po khyen no

Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo,26 think of us.

མཁྱེན་གཉིས་ཡེ་ཤེས་དབྱིངས་ནས་གཟིགས་ཤིག །

khyen nyi ye she ying ne sik shik

Behold us from wisdom’s space of twofold knowing.27

མི་ཤེས་བློ་ཡི་མུན་པ་སངས་ནས། །

mi she lo yi mun pa sang ne

Clear away the mental darkness of our ignorance

མཁྱེན་རབ་སྣང་བ་རྒྱས་པར་མཛོད་ཅིག །

khyen rap nang wa gye par dzö chik

And expand the vision of our supreme knowing.


Thank you Michele Martin. May it be of benefit!

Kalacakra teachings in Vienna, Austria, 18-21 October 2018

Jonang Lama Khentrul Rinpoche will be hosting teachings on Kalacakra in Vienna, Austria from 18th until 21st October, 2018.

Shambhala Centre
@ Bennogasse 8a, 1080 Wien

  • Demystifying the Sublime Realm of Shambhala
    18 October, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Der Mittlere Weg
@ Biberstrasse 9/2, 1010 Wien

  • Entering Shambhala Through the Vajra Yoga Path
    19 October, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
  • Distinguishing the Views of Kalachakra, Dzogchen and Mahamudra
    20 & 21 October, 10:00 AM – 12:00PM and 2:00 PM – 4:00PM

If you would like to contact the organisers, please use the following:

On the Jetsun Khalkha Dampa: HH 14th Dalai Lama’s ‘Prayer for his Swift Return’ and ‘Advice to Mongolians on his Rebirth’, new English translation

The title of ‘Khalkha’ was said to be first bestowed by the Fifth Dalai Lama on the Mongolian-born Lobzang Tenpai Gyaltsen (1635-1723) in the year 1642. He was declared as a tulku or reincarnation of the Jonangpa master Tāranātha. This line of incarnations continues up until the late 9th Kalkha Rinpoche.

However, according to one website about Jetsun Dhampa:

Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa has realised incarnations in all the lineages. Prior to his incarnation as Tāranātha, he was known as Jamyang Choje, who helped to establish Drepung Monastery outside Lhasa. In the Nyingma he was known Rongzong Lotsawa Chokyi Gaytsen; in the Kagyu Baromba Dharma Wangchuk; in the Sakya lineage, he was known as Master Kunga Drolchok. It was after this incarnation that he was to be reborn as Tāranātha. But at that time, the mother of Tāranātha was still only a young girl of fourteen; so instead, he took rebirth as the son of an Indian king. He lived so, until he was fourteen years of age. At that time, as he stood one day on the roof of the king’s palace, his dakini mother, whose name was Khadroma Yum Dorje Buka, appeared to him in the sky and bade him come to her. He then took rebirth, as Tāranātha.

Tāranātha’s work is of special interest with respect to the Tantric period of Buddhism in India. Later, while teaching in Tibet, he established Takten Phuntsok Ling Monastery, about three hours outside Shigatse, which had 500 monks and many branch monasteries throughout Tibet. At that time, Tāranātha was said to have given the Kālachakra initiation two or three times each year at his monastery, later renamed Ganden Phuntsok Ling. In his later years, it is said that Tāranātha, who was known for his great wit and humor, had joked during a teaching about where he might take rebirth. It was said that a Mongolian student who was present had spoken out and pleaded, “Oh, please come to Mongolia next time!” It was said that this remark set up the conditions for his next rebirth.

Tāranātha was his 14th notable reincarnation and directly preceded the First Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa. As the 15th reincarnation, the First Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, became the head lineage lama of the many monasteries throughout Mongolia.

The First Jetsun Dhampa, Tenpei Gyaltsen, Rangjung Yeshe Dorje, was born the son of a king in Mongolia. He was recognized at an early age to be an incarnate lama and, at the age of fourteen, (ca. 1650), he made a pilgrimage to Kumbum, the birthplace of Je Tsong Khapa. From there, he travelled to Central Tibet to visit the Fourth Panchen Lama, Panchen Losang Chogyen, and the Fifth Dalai Lama, Ngawang Losang Gyatso. It was at this time that the Fifth Dalai Lama recognized the young tulku to be the reincarnation of the saint Tāranātha, who was greatly respected as a chief lineage of all traditions with reincarnations going back directly to Shakyamuni Buddha. Both the Fifth Dalai Lama and the Fourth Panchen Lama then became Jetsun Dhampa’s teachers and gave to him all the initiations, oral transmissions and commentaries.

On the Jonang Foundation website, there is an interesting discussion by Dr. Michael Sheehy about an:

intriguing and somewhat mystifying narrative that has been popularized about the Tibetan Jonang master Tāranātha (1575-1635). This narrative suggests an account of Tāranāha’s life story in which he traveled to Mongolia from his seat at  Takten Damchö Ling Monastery in Central Tibet during the latter part of his life and that while there, he established several monasteries before finally passing away in Ulan Bator, the capital city in the republic of the Mongols.

For more on Tāranātha’s Travels in Mongolia read here.

jf_kalkha_01In 1997, the Dalai Lama appointed Kalkha Jetsun Dampa as the head of the Jonang tradition in exile, based at Takten Phuntsok Ling Monastery in Shimla. In terms of the life story of the 9th Jetsun Dampa, he also received teachings from all the lineage masters:

The Ninth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa was born at Tromtsikang and then moved to Shol, just below the Potala. His father, Lobsang Jampal, was from Phenpo and his mother, Yangchen was from Kham. At the age of seven, he entered Gomang College, Drepung Monastery, as a simple monk where he studied philosophy for fourteen years, up to the level of Madhyamika. At Gomang he studied primarily with a teacher from Mongolia named Geshe Thupten Nyima. He received his dharma lineages from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

His Holiness the Panchen Rinpoche, Gyabje Trijang Rinpoche, Gyabje Ling Rinpoche, and Gyabje Lhatsun Rinpoche were his teachers in the Gelukpa lineage. H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was his teacher in the Nyingma lineage; Kalu Rinpoche was his teacher in the Kagyu lineage; and Sakya Tenzin Rinpoche was his teacher in the Sakya lineage. At the age of 21, he left Gomang College and Drepung to engage in a series of Chod meditations, living the life of a yogi, while on pilgrimage to the holy sites of Tibet.

At the age of 25, he gave back his monastic vows, and then went to stay at Ganden Phunstok Ling, established by his predecessor Tāranātha, until the age of 29 when the Chinese invasion forced him into exile, along with hundreds of thousands of Tibetans.

In India, he lived with his family in Darjeeling and Mysore, until 1981, and later in Madhya Pradesh in central India until 1990, quietly serving as lama for the Tibetan community in exile throughout that time. During this period of time Rinpoche did many meditations and gave public teachings in the Tibetan settlements several times a year.

Then, in 1991, with the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the new-found religious freedom felt in Mongolia, many Mongolian monasteries sent their abbots and lamas and ministers to India to request inquiry of the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala about the possible location of the Ninth Khalkha Jetsun Dampa. Did His Holiness know where he was, who he is, and could the Dalai Lama recognize him for the peoples of Mongolia?

It was at that time, through the Religious Office of the Tibetan Government in Exile, that the Dalai Lama gave the official stamp of recognition and acknowledgement of the Ninth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, the spiritual head of Buddhism in Mongolia. He moved to Dharamsala to be closer to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and in 1991, he was officially enthroned as the Ninth Khalkha Jetsun Dhampa, amid great and joyous celebration.

The 9th Jetsun Dhampa passed away on March 1, 2012, in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

In December 2014, HH Dalai Lama also gave advice to Mongolians on what to do in relation to the new incarnation, who he states will be reborn in Mongolia. My translation of which is here.  Interestingly, HH quotes the 5th Dalai Lama to support his advice stating that:

If one immediately places the Jetsun Dampa on a high throne, devoid of any education, it is of no benefit. The 5th Dalai Lama often used to say: ‘that other than the qualities and knowledge he got from studying, he did not come to know these by being placed on a high throne without learning.’

The 10th Jetsun Kalkha Dampa re-birth is yet to be discovered (or at least it has not been announced). In 2012, HH the 14th Dalai Lama composed a ‘Supplication for the Swift Return‘ of Jetsun Dampa, my English translation of this is here.  Other Lineage lamas and teachers, wrote Aspiration Prayers for the Rebirth of Jetsun Dampa as well. More on that soon!

May the rebirth of Jetsun Khalkha Dampa swiftly return for the benefit of Jonang, Tibetans and Mongolians and the Buddha’s teachings! May this be of benefit!

Tāranātha on the Benefits of Love and the Four Immeasurables

Translator snippet Friday!  THE BENEFITS OF LOVING-KINDNESS by Tāranātha.

བྱམ་པའི་ཕན་ཡོན། ཏཱ་ར་ནཱ་ཐ།

In his important text on the Six Vajra-Yogas, One Hundred Blazing Lights: A Supplementary Commentary on Seeing the Meaningful, Tāranātha gives several quotes on bodhicitta and the the four immeasurables from Nagārjuna’s texts. He goes into detail about the benefits of loving-kindness quoting from a variety of well-known Buddhist texts. The four immeasurables, which one applies to immeasurable sentient beings, are:

  1. immeasaurable love  – wanting all beings to have genuine happiness and not to be separated from that
  2. immeasurable compassion – wanting all beings to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering
  3. immeasurable joy – rejoicing at the positive actions and happiness and good qualities of all sentient beings
  4. immeasurable equanimity – treating all beings the same in terms of the above three immeasurables and not discriminating against them based on whether one is close to them or likes them etc.

According to Tāranātha, and the other great texts he quotes, without the presence of the four immeasurables, one can never be happy and can certainly not be enlightened. He says:

The first point is the fault of not having the four immeasurables. It will lead to one’s mind being completely stirred by afflictive emotions; ill-will and malice, a hostile and resentful mind, disliking it when others have happiness. Without the opposing antidotes to pleasure-seeking out of attachment and desire, the negative and destructive physical, verbal and mental conduct will increase. Due to pleasure-seeking and the mind that wants harm, other afflictive emotions will also increase and flourish. It will cause the arisal of infinite faults and dangers, both now and in the future.

Later he gives a quote  from Nagārjuna’s ‘Precious Garland’.

‘Even giving three hundred pots of food three times per day, every day is nothing compared to the merit of one moment of loving kindness.’

Many might ask how that could be so? The reason being is that if one gives without such a mind of genuine loving kindness there is actually not much benefit, other than temporary satisfaction, and on top of that a strengthening of ego and feeling superior and so on. Immeasurable love itself needs to be combined with the three-fold focus on the objects of love, sentient beings, otherwise it will also be based on attachment and aversion for those we like and don’t like.

What is the three-fold focus? It is focusing on immeasurable sentient beings (1), focusing on phenomena and the five aggregates of body, speech and mind as empty of inherent existence (focusing on phenomena (2)) and focusing on both of these as being completely empty and not separate from oneself (focusing without focus (3)).

So what is the key to being happy, and giving others happiness? Developing the four immeasurables in your mindstream!  May we all be loving and loved and may it be of benefit!

Kālacakra Teachings and Empowerments in Portugal and Italy, October 2018


4th to 7th October 2018:  Innate Kalacakra Teachings and Empowerment. Place: Porto, Portugal. Teacher: Garchen Rinpoche. Translated from Tibetan in English.

images (39)1709797713..jpg

The programme for the visit is below:



24th to 30th October 2018: Kalacakra empowerment and teachings. Place: Rome, Italy. Teacher: Khentrul Rinpoche.


The program for Rinpoché’s visit to Rome will be as follows:

Teachings on Demystifying the Sublime Realm of Shambhala 
24 October, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Teachings on the Greatness of the Vajra Yogas of Kalachakra
25 October, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Teaching in Preparation for Receiving Empowerments
26 October, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

Kalachakra Empowerment
27 October, 9:00 AM – 12:00PM and 2:00 PM – 5:00PM
28 October, 9:00 AM – 12:00PM and 2:00 PM – 5:00PM

How to Practice the Kalachakra Vajra Yoga Path
29 October, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM
30 October, 7:30 PM – 9:00 PM

The venue for the events will be posted when confirmed.

If you would like to contact the organisers, please use the following:

Stephanie Ucci:
Filippo Brambilla:

The meaning of the Tibetan word ‘blessing’ (jinlab) according to Jonang Bamda Gelek

Blessing (Skt. adhiṣṭhāna; བྱིན་བརླབས་, byin brlabs or byin gyis brlabs).

For Dakini Day today, I thought I would share a tibit of ancient wisdom from one of the greatest Rime and Jonang masters, Bamda Gelek on the meaning of the word, commonly translated as ‘blessing’. In his Kālacakra Six Yogas instruction text, The Chariot That Transports One to the Four Kāyas he states the following:

In terms of [the phrase] ‘bestowing blessing’ (byin brlabs) it means,  ‘bestowing’ (byin) to one’s mindstream, in dependence on the body, speech and mind of the lama, excellent qualities and powers, that enable and empower one to abandon the obscurations. By the strength (stobs) of that bestowal, and strength of that power, one is able to train and transform one’s previous mindstream into meditative absorption (ting nge ‘dzin) and the mind of Bodhicitta; and purify the various obscurations. That is the meaning of ‘blessing’ (brlab).

For this reason, I would assert that the best translation of this word is ‘bestowing power, or inspiration’.

Adhiṣṭhāna(m) is a term with multiple meanings: seat; basis; substratum; ground; support; and abode.

The scholar-translator, Dan Martin asserts that the Chinese term for adhiṣṭhāna influenced the Tibetan:

Byin-rlabs is commonly glossed as ‘gift wave’, but it more properly goes back to a literal translation of a Chinese word which was almost certainly made during the earliest introduction of Buddhism into Tibet in the seventh or eighth centuries. It is not a literal translation of the Sanskrit Buddhists term adhisthana. Its actual, or rather its philologically correct, meaning is ‘received by (way of) giving’.

Also, in one recent teaching the Gyalwang Karmapa (from 53 mins onwards) states it very beautifully and simply. It’s that feeling you get when you’re with someone who loves and cares for you. Like a child sitting next to a loving mother. They make you feel safe, protected, peaceful and calm. They make an agitated and troubled mind feel peaceful and happy. That is a lama’s blessing.

However one defines or translates it, I hope you enjoy this short new translation from Bamda Gelek and may all beings receive lots of blessings (gifts of power) on this Dakini Day!!

Cyrus Stearns’ foreword for new Bamda Gelek Kālacakra book and his work on Jonang and Dolpopa

A week or so ago the renowned scholar and translator, Dr. Cyrus Stearns read the final draft of my translation of the Jonang master Bamda Gelek Gyatso’ s text ‘The Chariot that Transports One to the Four Kayas‘ (up to the end of the common preliminaries). He told me he thought it was ‘excellent’ and kindly agreed to write a short foreword for it (see below). This text has not been translated or published in the English language before but it is one of the main texts used to teach the Kālacakra Six Yogas in the Jonang tradition to this day. I am very happy that this forthcoming book will make these teachings more accessible to teachers and students outside of Tibet.

I have been an admirer of Cyrus Stearns, ever since I read his interesting and excellent book on Dolpopa, The Buddha from Dolpo: A Study of the Life and Thought of the Tibetan Master Dolpopa Sherab Gyaltsen (Shambhala, 2010) one of the most important figures in the Jonang and Shentong Madhyamaka lineages. In fact, it would be fair to say that this book on Dolpopa, is the only, and main, English-language work that discusses Dolpopa’s life and works in significant detail.


Another less well known piece of work by Cyrus Stearns is also an excellent and informative article on one of the main lineages holders of the seventeen lineages of the Kālacakra Six Yogas, the Indian master, Vibhūticandra, called The Life and Tibetan Legacy of the Indian Mahāpaṇḍita Vibhūticandra. For anyone interested in the background to two main lineages of Kalacakra, this article and footnotes, provide a wealth of information on it and some of the translators and Indian masters involved in transmitting Kālacakra Six Yogas to Tibet from India. Taranatha also discusses the two Vibhuticandra lineages in detail in his major work on Kālacakra and the Six Yogas, One Hundred Blazing Lights, for my translation of this section see here. It was from Cyrus Stearns’ article, that I learned that the place in Nepal where Vibhūticandra spent a significant amount of time called Stam Bihar, is located in Thamel, Kathmandu. I have never visited this place before, but have made a mental note to visit it on my next trip there. Watch this space!

Stearns told me that in the late 1980s he was able to study the the major root text ‘Seeing the Meaningful’ in Nepal with his teacher, Chogye Trichen Rinpoche, and translated it orally three times when he taught the entire work in Nepal, Borneo, and the U.S. He stated that this text, and the supplementary commentary ‘One Hundred Blazing Lights’, are two of the most amazing works he’s ever studied. I agree with him, amazing and not easy to translate either!

Stearns has also written thirty-three biographies of many major Jonang and Kalacakra masters, including Kunpang Tsondru, Dolpopa, Dolpopa’s fourteen major disciples, Tāranātha and others, all of which are available to read for free on Treasury of Lives, see here for the full list. For other published works by Stearns, see also his biography at Shambhala Publications.

So this brief post, is a big thanks to Cyrus Stearns for his excellent and beneficial work on Jonang and Kālacakra. May it be of benefit and may the Kālacakra and Shentong Madhyamaka teachings flourish!