Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Brief Biography of Ven. Thongphu Lopen Rinpoche, Yonten Phuntsho

Ven. Thongphu Lopen was born in 1957 in Jangsa Monastery, Kalimpong India to Ven. Rinchen Dargey, an accomplished yogi, who at the time, was receiving teachings from one of his principle Guru, His Holiness Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö. Ven. Thongphu Lopen was blessed by Jamyang Khyentse and named Yonten Phuntsho (Prosperous Wisdom). Later, he was also blessed by HH Dudjom Jigdrel Yeshi Dorji. Being born to a long lineage of religious family, he was introduced to Vajarayana Buddhism at a very early age where he showed keen interest in Dharma activities.

Early Life and Education in Rigney (Buddhist Arts and Sciences)
Thongphu Lopen was formally enrolled to monastic education at the age of 6 under his yogi father where he was rigorously trained in Rigney. From 1963 till 1970, as is required for all Vajarayana Buddhist masters, he was trained in Buddhist rituals, astrology, grammar, calligraphy, painting, carving, mask dance, and many more. Thongphu Lopen took great interest in all the Buddhist art and science education and excelled in all the activities. 
Oral transmissions, empowerments and initiations 
Thongphu Lopen received oral transmissions, empowerments and initiations from many great masters. Some of the most important oral transmissions, empowerments and initiations that he received are:  

  1. Rinchen Terzoe (treasure teachings of Nyingmapa tradition), Dudjom Sungbum (all teachings of Dudjom tradition), Peling Kabum (all teachings of Peling tradition) and Thrak-thung Dudjom Sungbum (all teachings of Thrak-thung Dudjomlingpa) from His Holiness Dudjom Jigdrel Yeshe Dorji.
  2. Nyingma Gyubum (100 volume sutras), Chokling Tersar (all teachings of Chokling tradition), Longchen Zoeddun (seven volume teachings of Longchenpa), Nyingthick Yazhi from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.
  3.  Namchoe (all teachings of Payul traditions) and Mipham Kabum (all teachings of Mipham tradition) from His Holiness Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche.   
  4. Nyingma Kama, Nyingthing Yazhi and Nyingthig Tsapay from His Holiness Dodrup Chen Rinpoche.
  5. Dudjom Tersar Tsa-Sum (three root teachings of Dudjom Tersar tradition) from his Eminence Dungsey Thinley Norbu
  6. Ngendro and Dropthub Gaychu from His Holiness the 70th Je Khenpo of Bhutan, Tulku Jigme Choeda.
  7. Thrak-thung Dudjom Sungbum (all teachings of Thrak-thung Dudjomlingpa) and Dudjom Tersar Tsa-Sum (three root teachings of Dudjom Tersar tradition) from His Eminence Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse.

Retreat and Meditations 

In 1971, Thongphu Lopen did one year and three months Dudjom Tersar solitary retreat at Thongphu Gonpa retreat centre under the guidance of his yogi father who was a student of HH Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, HH Dudjom Rinpoche, HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, HH Polo Khen Rinpoche and Geshe Pema Thinley. After the completion of solitary retreat, he again did three years, three months and three days retreat including Tersar yoga.

Higher Studies in Philosophy
In 1983, upon the order of his root guru, His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Thongphu Lopen went to India to pursue higher studies in Buddhist Philosophy and Sanskrit in Central University of Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, Varanasi. He, however, left the university after three years.

Services and Work 
From 1978 till 1982, Thongphu Lopen personally served His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche in various capacities. During this period, he received many pith instructions from His Holiness including the practice of Nyingthig yoga.
In 1985, Thongphu Lopen was appointed as teacher in Verotsana Shedra where he taught the monks for three years. 
He was appointed as the head of Drodul Dongagling Monastery in 1990. Currently, he looks after 3 monasteries in Thongphu, Phongmey and Momnangkhar. He also supervises and looks after 2 Buddhist schools (Drodul Dongagling and Ugyen Gatsheling) and 2 retreat centers in Thongphu and Phongmey. 
Thongphu Lopen with the Monks of Drodrul Dongagling Monastery in 2000