The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
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A brief biography of Kojo Tsewang Namgyal
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At 64 years of age, Kojo Tsewang Namgyal is one of the last holders of the cosmological knowledge and astrological teachings of Kālacakra; he has devoted his entire life to the understanding, preservation and dissemination of these teachings.
An exceptional student, he studied with many different learned and expert teachers of his time. His studies covered the general teachings of the Buddha, but in particular the history of Buddhism and the royal dynasties, the Tantra of Kālacakra and its various commentaries, as well as many texts treating of astrology or cosmology. He quickly gained a significant reputation among the community of Tibetan experts.
In 1979 (earth-sheep), he went in secrecy to Lhasa to meet Jampa Chodrak, then professor of astrology in the Men-tsi-khang (sman rtsis khang – the Institute of Astrology and Medicine, in Lhasa). During a period of six months, the two of them exchanged knowledge and experience, and jointly resolved their doubts with regard to Kālacakra and astrological (calendrical) calculations.
His exceptional comprehension of the tantra allowed him to discover and interpret correctly a number of the hidden meanings of Kālacakra and to explain – without contradicting observable reality – the cosmology and calculation explanations the tantra and other teachings of the Buddha. (With regard to these hidden meanings, Shakyamuni Buddha and the kings of Shambhala concealed in Kālacakra the keys to the understanding of the external physical world, but in a way that they could not be used by those with negative attitudes. For this reason, only very few Tibetan experts had access to these teachings, and they kept them secret for political and other reasons...)
In the years which followed, he wrote and published no fewer than 75 different works on Buddhism, history and astrology. Among these are "The Quiet River, an Extensive History of Buddhism", "The Moonbeam, Synthesis of the Meaning of Kālacakra" and an explanatory guide on Shambhala.
In 1993 (water-bird), the Chinese government offered him an interesting position, accompanied by all the honours that would be deserved by his deep knowledge; however, he turned this down. He then fled to India where he was invited upon his arrival to the Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute in Dharamshala. He subsequently worked there for a few years as professor and director of research.
His erudition and intimate knowledge of Kālacakra brought him to the attention of H.E Tai Situ Rinpoche, who invited him to reside at his monastery (Sherab Ling, near Bir) so that he can there teach astrology and establish a new calendar, using the original calculations as described in the Tantra.
Yonge Mingyur Rinpoche counted among his last students, and great teachers such as Dongtok Rinpoche and Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche recognised his work as among the best interpretations of Kālacakra in Tibetan history.