His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche

His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is one of two heads of the Drikung Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism. Born in 1946 in Lhasa, Tibet, he was recognized at the age of four as the reincarnation of the previous Drikung Kyabgon and formally enthroned and educated at Drikung Thil, the main monastery of the Drikung Kagyu order in central Tibet. During the Tibetan exodus in the late 1950s, his parents fled to India while he remained at Drikung Thil. In 1959, Communist China closed the monastery, and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was adopted by his former tutor, His Eminence Gyabra Rinpoche. After completing his elementary and middle school education in Lhasa, in 1969 he was assigned to a countryside farm, working fifteen hours a day doing hard physical labor. In 1975, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang crossed the Himalayan border separating Tibet from Nepal—on foot and all alone except for fortuitous help from two strangers at one impassable point. He traveled to Dharamsala, India, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, where he was received by His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama and formally enthroned once again. Then, after eighteen years of separation, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was reunited with his family in the United States. He stayed for several years, completing courses in English and adult education—and working after school at McDonald’s to practice his English. In 1978, he returned to India, taking up rigorous Buddhist practice, retreats, and instruction from many of the greatest living masters of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1985, in Dehra Dun, India, he founded the Drikung Kagyu Institute, Jang Chub Ling, which provides traditional monastic and modern education to c. 450 monks and nuns; a meditation retreat center; and a project to collect and preserve all the Drikung Kagyu texts, as well as document the ways of life, philosophy, and religious traditions of the peoples of the Himalayas. In 2003, Chetsang Rinpoche established near his monastery a magnificent edifice: the Songtsen Library, a center for Tibetan and Himalayan studies. It is a treasury and think tank for the cultural and spiritual identity of the peoples of the Himalayan region and of the Drikung Lineage in particular. It contains rare texts about all subjects of the Himalayan region, works on Tibetan culture, tradition and geography, and of course the Buddhist texts of all schools. It houses an important collection about the famous Dunhuang manuscripts unearthed along the Silk Road.

    His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche was born in 1936 in Nangchen, Kham in Eastern Tibet. He is a Drikung Kagyu lama who was known in the thirteenth century as the Siddha Gar Chodingpa, a heart disciple of Kyobpa Jigten Sumgon, founder of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. In ancient India, he had incarnated as Mahasiddha Aryadeva, the lotus-born disciple of the great Nagarjuna. In the seventh century, he was known as Lonpo Gar, the minister of the Tibetan Dharma King Songsten Gampo. Garchen Rinpoche was recognized and enthroned in eastern Tibet by the former Drikung Kyabgon Zhiwe Lodro. When he was seven, he was brought to Lho Miyal Monastery, which he administered from the age of eleven. Studying and practicing under the direction of the Siddha Chime Dorje, Garchen Rinpoche received vast and profound instructions on the preliminary practices (ngondro), the fivefold practice of Mahamudra and the six yogas of Naropa. Then, at the age of 22, after completing a two and a half year retreat, he was imprisoned for 20 years during the political turmoil of China’s Cultural Revolution. While in the labor camp, he received meditation instruction from his root lama, the Nyingma master Khenpo Munsel. From Khenpo Munsel he received Dzogchen teachings and practiced secretly. Enduring hardship and practicing secretly, Garchen Rinpoche attained realization of the lama’s wisdom mind. Khenpo Munsel was astonished at Rinpoche’s great achievement and commented of him: “He is an emanation of a Bodhisattva.” Since his release in 1979, Garchen Rinpoche has made great effort to rebuild the Drikung Kagyu monasteries and reestablish the Buddhist teachings. At present, Garchen Rinpoche is involved in restoring Gar Monastry and establishing a monastic college there, as well as two boarding schools for local Tibetan children. Garchen Rinpoche is the founder and spiritual director of the Garchen Buddhist Institute in Chino Valley, Arizona, the Drikung Mahayana Center in North Potomac, Maryland and Gar Drolma Choling in Dayton, Ohio. Internationally he has founded centers in Germany, Malaysia and Singapore and Poland. His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche, “a great Drikung Kagyu yogi of the present time” praised by His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche and is respected by many Tibetan lamas as a pure and realized master. An accomplished practitioner of Mahamudra and Dzogchen. Rinpoche’s radiant presence inspires and delights students as the loving mother gathers her children close with sheltering, loving, encouraging, admonishing, laughing, inviting, prodding, teaching, reminding, singing… Because of his vast realization and great kindness, Garchen Rinpoche naturally gathers students around him wherever he travels. Yet, he remains steadfast in humility, loving kindness and pure vision, thinking only of how to benefit others. By nature he is able to work for the benefit of others and has earned great respect from the public. His Eminence has never betrayed the expectations of his disciples or others. Garchen Rinpoche is an extraordinary being in this age of degeneration and strife. Truly, compassion and wisdom pour forth from this precious teacher like water from a mountain stream.


 Lama Tsering Rinpoche Lama Tsering Rinpoche is the resident Lama at the Drikung Garchen Institute. Ordained as a monk at the age of eight, he received the novice ordination two years later. He completed his studies at the main monastery of the Drikung-Kagyü lineage in Dehra Dun, India. After concluding the preliminary practices of the Drikung Yangzab and the Longchen Nyingthig traditions, he received teachings on Phowa, and the Dzogchen Trekchöd and Thögal practices. In the course of a 100 day retreat (Shag gya) he practiced the Tonglen of the Six Realms.   In addition, he completed the traditional three year retreat comprising the five-fold path of Mahamudra and the Six Yogas of Naropa. Subsequently, HH Chetsang Rinpoche and His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche conferred the title of a Drubpön (retreat master) upon him.   On the request of His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche, Lama Tsering has been in Germany since 2002 and conducts regular pujas at the Drikung Garchen Institute, as well as giving initiations and teachings as well as attending to practitioners in retreat.