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Honouring the Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin
on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of his passing

The Vajra Regent Ösel Tendzin was a charismatic leader, an inspiring teacher, and a constant presence in all aspects of Trungpa Rinpoche's community of students. In recent years, very little attention has been given to his work, his teachings, or his place in history as the first western dharma heir of a prominent Tibetan teacher. Here, for the 25th anniversary, are a few reminders of who he was.

Photo by Robert Altman


Ken Green on the Vajra Regent

Ken Green talks with Julia Sagebien about the early years of the Vajra Regent's path. This conversation is offered in commemoration of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Regent's passing. Read Ken's letter about this interview and listen to the conversation

A final meeting

In the days leading up to Rinpoche's hospitalization in late September 1986, Rinpoche called a series of urgent meetings with key leaders and people he was close to within the mandala. Each meeting was a brief, mostly silent, and powerful reconnection with that person.

Among these, was a meeting with the Vajra Regent. The Regent was summond to the Court early one morning by Rinpoche himself. The Vidyadhara arose from bed and headed for the door. When asked by Marty Janowitz (who was his attaché at the time) where he was going, Rinpoche said, "to the Regent." Upon arriving at the Regent's home (only a few blocks away), the kusung rang the doorbell only to find that the Regent was still asleep. Rinpoche insisted that he be awakened and told to come immediately. Rinpoche returned home and went back to his bedroom. The Regent arrived shortly thereafter and was ushered into the room. The only other person present in the room was Marty Janowitz. Marty remembers that very few words were spoken. Rinpoche placed his hand on the Regent's head, and said some words in Tibetan and in English something to the effect of, "You are the Regent." The exchange was short and Rinpoche's demeanor was direct and somewhat intense. There was no hanging out, and when he was done with what was intended, he indicated that the Regent should leave.

After the Regent left, Marty asked Rinpoche what had just taken place, and Rinpoche said something short including: "re-empowering". He didn't want to talk about it. Marty has tried to recollect more detail of Rinpoche's exchange with the Regent but at the time this was just part of a continuum of short intense events (none of which were recorded or diarized) and admits to not recognizing the import of the subtleties at the time. He thought that Rinpoche said something to the Regent like "it's up to you" but now he is not clear if those were words actually spoken or if they are merely an aspect of later projection.

Ken Green: The Los Angeles IYI
Read this Chronicles interview from 2006

Photograph by Marvin Moore

Images from the Regent's Cremation Photographs and slide show by Marvin Moore


Ask the Vajra Regent

If you have never seen the Regent teach, check out Ask the Vajra Regent, a video compilation of the Regent's Q&A. Watch the six minute version on facebook, or order the DVD from Satdharma.

Photo by Michael Wood
Letter to the 1980 Seminary, by The Vajra Regent, Ösel Tendzin

For a long time I have thought about recording the events that have shaped my life over the past nine years, the time in which I have been under the protection and guidance of the vajra master. Although my experiences are personal to my journey, I feel it would be useful for my fellow students in the dharma to hear about them, not so much because these experiences happened to me, but because I think they illuminate the special power of the lineage in its continuity ... Continued

Trungpa Rinpoche's 1971 comments about appointing a dharma heir

Sam Bercholz recalls that, while waiting for Suzuki Roshi's funeral to begin, Trungpa Rinpoche said that he was upset that Roshi had to appoint a successor so close to his own death, and that Roshi didn't have enough time to work with his successor. Sam goes on to say that Rinpoche decided right then and there that he wasn't going to do it that way. He was going to choose and train his successor soon, and then at a certain point, he would get out of the way and just watch, and then a few years after that, he would die. Listen to the audio

The Empowerment of the Vajra Regent

The Vidyadhara, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche empowered Thomas Rich as the regent on August 22, 1976. Visit vrot.org to view the proclamation declaring Thomas Rich as the vajra regent, watch a slideshow of the empowerment, and listen to the audio recording of the ceremony.

THE BIG NO, by Chögyam Trungpa

"The Big No arose some time ago when I was together with my vajra regent and several other students at the Kalapa Court, my house. When the Big No came out, I had found that everybody was indulging in their world too much. I had to say No. So I crashed my arm and fist down on my coffee table, and I broke it. I put a dent in it. Then I painted a giant picture of the Big No in the entrance hall of my house: BIG No. There was ink everywhere from that proclamation." -CTR    Read the article

Advise to the sangha from Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche

In February 1990, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche suggested that the sangha gather together to perform the Sadhana of Mahamudra for seven days. He goes on to say: "Mutual understanding, loving kindness, and harmony among the brothers and sisters who constitute your sangha is vital ..." Read the letter