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Commemorating the 20th anniversary of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's parinirvana

28 September 2011

Welcome to this tribute to the guru of gurus, the extraordinary Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, who died twenty years ago, on September 28, 1991.

Photo made available by Rigpa Fellowship

Jewel Mountain

Jewel Mountain, a newly released short film on Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, was made in the mid-1990s and is the first in a series of subsequent films on his life. Edited by Nathaniel Dorsky and photographed by Matthieu Ricard and Vivian Kurz.

On this page, please find:

DKR's advice to retreatants

Jewel Mountain, a newly released video of his life

Twenty Years of Accomplishing Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's Aspirations

An interview with Rabjam Rinpoche, reposted from September 2010

It would be hard to find a genuine Tibetan lama who does not have a dharma connection to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Prominent teachers who consider themselves his students include the Dalai Lama, Trulshik Rinpoche, Ogyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Rabjam Rinpoche, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Sogyal Rinpoche, and Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, to name but a few. He is the master of the masters. No matter who your teacher is, they undoubtedly have a samaya connection and a deep sense of love and gratitude toward Dilgo Khyentse.

In particular, Trungpa Rinpoche's students have a deep samaya bond with the Dilgo Khyentse lineage. Dilgo Khyentse was an important teacher to Trungpa Rinpoche while he was still in Tibet, and he was perhaps Trungpa Rinpoche's closest teacher, advisor, and confidant during his years of teaching Dharma in the West. Rinpoche included Khyentse Rinpoche in all aspects of his work, including the Shambhala teachings and empowerments. This close bond with Khyentse Rinpoche was passed on to Trungpa Rinpoche's students during Khyentse Rinpoche's visits to North America in the 1970s and 80s. His impact on the community was penetrating. His presence was monumental, his mind was unfathomable, his demeanor was gentle and kind; after hosting Khyentse Rinpoche, the Vajradhatu [Shambhala] sangha was affected in a fundamental and ineffable way.

During Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's second visit to North America in 1982, he conferred the Sakyong empowerment on Trungpa Rinpoche. Before performing this ceremony, Khyentse Rinpoche requested and received a lung and some instruction on all of the Vidyadhara's Shambhala treasure teachings. The Vidyadhara was particularly honored and moved to have received this request. Following Trungpa Rinpoche's death in 1987, Dilgo Khyentse gave an extensive series of empowerments to Trungpa Rinpoche's students in Boulder, Karme Choling, and Halifax. By performing these empowerments, Khyentse Rinpoche was fulfilling Trungpa Rinpoche's wish that his students receive these practices. His presence was comforting and inspiring, during a time of devastating sadness and confusion.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche also regards Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche as one of his most important teachers. Especially during the years immediately following his father's death, Khyentse Rinpoche had a profound influence on the young Sakyong to be. Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche recently wrote, "One way or another, the majority of students and practitioners from all the different lineages of Tibetan Buddhism will have a connection with Kyabjé Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche."


Advice to Retreatants by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

This advice to retreatants is a translation of teachings given by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche to western students in a three-year retreat in France. It is taken from the twenty-five-volume Collected Works of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (sungbum) and was translated by Adam Pearcy.

Homage to the lama!

This is addressed to those staying in three-year retreat in France.

Those of you who live in Europe and other modern countries have all the amenities and luxuries this life affords, but until recently you had never even heard of the practice of Dharma. In recent times, it so happened that the teachings declined in Tibet, and many lamas of senior and junior rank from all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism arrived in India. Now, when their various teachings are being revived and the allotted time for the Buddhadharma to remain has not yet passed, a number of great masters went to visit and settle in other countries, with the result that many people throughout the modern world now have the intention to practise Dharma. -Continued on

An interview with Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche

Posted: September 23, 2010

Interviewer: Carolyn Rose Gimian

Videographer: Mark Elliott

Twenty Years of Accomplishing Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's Aspirations

Here is a look at the work that has been accomplished to fulfill his aspirations, and provide access to his writings and teachings, in the twenty years since his passing. This article is based on information provided during Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's centennial celebration in 2010, and is presented here by permission of Dilgo Khyentse Fellowship.

Since 1991, Rabjam Rinpoche and his team have endeavoured to accomplish Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's vision. Khyentse Rinpoche always had expressed the wish to benefit all beings and to perpetuate the Buddhadharma, especially the spiritual heritage of Tibetan Buddhism. Among his specific goals were the building of a Nyingma monastery in Bodhgaya and the construction of eight stupas at sacred sites connected with the major events of Buddha Shakyamuni's life. Both these wishes and many others have now been realized. The major ones are detailed below.

Shechen Monastery in Tibet

Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Bodhnath, Nepal, is flourishing since its inception in 1984. It has expanded to include a philosophical college and a retreat center, a Tibetan text input office, an archive, and improved facilities for the teachers and Khenpos. Four hundred monks live, study, and are supported in the monastery.

Shechen Monastery in Nepal

Shechen Tennyi Dargyeling Monastery in Bodhnath, Nepal, is flourishing since its inception in 1984. It has expanded to include a philosophical college and a retreat center, a Tibetan text input office, an archive, a dining room, and improved facilities for the teachers and Khenpos.

Shechen Monastery in India

Bodhgaya, the Diamond Throne, is the center of the Buddhist world. It is the place where the thousand buddhas of this "fortunate aeon" will attain enlightenment. It was here, under the bodhi tree, that the renunciate prince Siddhartha became the Buddha Shakyamuni. Before passing away, Khyentse Rinpoche repeatedly expressed the wish to construct a monastery of the Nyingma lineage in Bodhgaya so that its rich tradition could prevail in that area. The monastery was built and inaugurated in January 1998 by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche. The complex has a main temple, a study and research center, a large library, and quarters for visiting teachers, international students, and resident monks. The Shechen Institute, founded by Rabjam Rinpoche and inaugurated by Her Majesty the Queen Grandmother of Bhutan in 1997, has organized study programs of Buddhist philosophy and practice for students from all over the world.

Shechen Monastery in Bhutan

The nunnery of Shechen Orgyen Chozong in Bhutan, initially founded by Khyentse Rinpoche and his wife, Khandro Lhamo, has been rebuilt and houses one hundred nuns who range in age from fifteen to seventy. The nunnery provides for the nuns' complete education, as well as their food, medical care, shelter, and clothing. The flourishing of Shechen Orgyen Chozong as a place for the education for women is a revolutionary step in the establishment of equality for female practitioners in the East.

Philosophical Colleges

In 1989 Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche established the Shechen Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies at Shechen Monastery, Nepal. It has gained a reputation for scholastic excellence, and over a hundred students from across the Himalayas are enrolled in its nine-year curriculum under the supervision of Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche and a number of Khenpos. The students study, discuss, and debate sacred texts on philosophy, astrology, meditation, and history.

After nine-years, the graduates receive a Loppon (equivalent to a master of arts) degree. In order to become a Khenpo (Ph.D.) in Buddhist philosophy, students are required to do an additional three years of research or a long contemplative retreat. Graduates of the college are currently teaching at various monasteries and centers in Asia and the West, as well as at the institute itself.


Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Photo by Lee Weingrad; (c) 2011 Lee Weingrad, used by permission; 1976 at Sam Bercholz's house Berkeley.

Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Rabjam Rinpoche; Karme Choling 1976

Photograph by Wendy Tigerman, © Wendy Tigerman

The Philosophical College at the Shechen Monastery in Tibet was fully rebuilt in 2006 and now houses 250 students. This is the monastic college where Trungpa Rinpoche studied with Shechen Kongtrul and Khenpo Gangshar, before escaping to India.

A smaller college in Bhutan has been built at Thegchog Chokyi Gatsel, near Paro, to provide a suitable place for Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche to study with a dozen other monks. There is also a philosophical college at the Shechen Orgyen Chozong Nunnery in Bhutan. It is the first educational facility exclusively for nuns in that country. Three graduates from the Shechen Philosophical College teach intensive college courses.

Retreat Centers

In a traditional three-year retreat center, students can apply their studies in philosophy and ritual to contemplative practice. Shechen has built retreat centers in Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. The retreatants in both Bhutan and Nepal focus entirely on Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's terma teachings in their meditative practices.

In Nepal, a retreat center has been built on a beautiful hill facing the Himalayas near the sacred place of Namo Buddha. Contemplatives participate in the traditional three-year retreat as well as in private retreats. A few retreatants were recently invited to North America to participate in research projects with neuroscientists on the effects of mind training on the brain. A third group of new retreatants have just begun their three-year retreat.

In Bhutan, a small retreat center was built on the hill above the nunnery at the request of the nuns. This center houses nine nuns for three-year retreats.

In Tibet, Shechen has rebuilt the former retreat center at Shechen Tennyi Dargye Ling and supports the retreatants there.

The Construction of Eight Stupas

One of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's principal teachers, Dzongsar Khyentse Chokyi Lodro (1893-1959), prophesied that if a stupa was built in each of the eight sacred sites connected with the major events of the Buddha Shakyamuni's life, it would help to assuage conflicts, wars, famines, and other sources of suffering throughout the world.

Before his passing in 1991, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche was only able to build and consecrate one of the eight, the Enlightenment Stupa, in Bodhgaya, India. Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche has, with the support of generous benefactors, now fulfilled Khyentse Rinpoche's vision by building the remaining seven. All eight stupas were completed and consecrated in 2010, the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Another, larger stupa has recently been built adjacent to Shechen Monastery in Bodhgaya to commemorate Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Each of the eight stupas is unique in construction and location.

Shechen Publications

After he escaped Tibet and came to India, Khyentse Rinpoche immediately began trying to save the endangered teachings that had flourished in Tibet. From 1972 he began publishing over 300 volumes of texts (reproduced from manuscripts or wood-block prints) that are essential for Buddhist philosophy and practice. Using the modern technology of computer input into Tibetan script, this work has been continued by Tsering Samdrup, Matthieu Ricard, and the team of Shechen Publications in Kathmandu and Delhi. Among the publications that have been completed since 1991 with the support of the Tsadra Foundation are:

  Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's collected writings in 25 volumes.
  The collection of precious instructions from the Eight Chariots of Spiritual Accomplishment, collected by Jamgon Kongtrul, in 16 volumes (gdams ngag rin po che mdzod).
  The expanded edition of Jamgon Kongtrul Yonten Gyatso's writings, in 14 volumes (rgya chen bka' mdzod).
  Jamgon Kongtrul's "Encyclopedia of Knowledge" (shes bya' mdzod), in 4 volumes.
  The 70-volume collection of Rediscovered Treasures (rin chen gter mdzod).
  The collected works of Shabkar Tsogdruk Rangdrol, in 14 volumes, with a detailed analytical catalogue in English and Tibetan.

In addition, Shechen Publications has initiated translations of the practice texts from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's termas as well as several of his important commentaries on various aspects of Buddhism.

Tsering Institute

The Shechen Institute of Traditional Tibetan Art, known as Tsering Art School, was established by Shechen Rabjam Rinpoche in 1996, and is housed on the grounds of Shechen Monastery in Nepal. The aim of the school is to contribute to the preservation and continuation of authentic Tibetan and Bhutanese arts. The primary function of the school is to train young artists in a pure and authentic lineage of thangka painting. The students are trained under the guidance of the painting master Konchog Lhadrepa and with the assistance of some of the graduate artists. He was expressly chosen by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche to study this art and received essential advice on various painting techniques from Khyentse Rinpoche himself. The school offers a six-year course in traditional Buddhist painting to sixty students (monks, nuns, and laypeople, including Westerners). It has also given workshops on tailoring, sculpture, and the production of incense.

Under the direction of Konchok Lhadrepa, graduates of the school produced thangka paintings, mandalas, and tsagli (cards depicting deities used in empowerment rituals) covering the entire range of Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's terma teachings, many of which were not previously reproduced.

Shechen Archives

Shechen has also worked for the preservation and continuation of the rich and ancient spiritual and cultural heritage of Tibetan Buddhism by archiving rare Tibetan paintings and reproducing lost texts. The Shechen Archives, located within the premises of Tsering Art School, in Nepal, preserves priceless recordings of Buddhist teachings, video, and artwork, and protects over 15,000 photographs of Tibetan art, teachers, sacred places, architecture, and other subjects. It also houses 300 hours of recorded teachings given by Khyentse Rinpoche and two hundred hours of original video footage on his life and legacy.

For more information, visit

Thank you to Vivian Kurz for her guidance on this page.