Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche
The 7th Dzogchen Ponlop, Rinpoche (Karma Sungrap Ngedon Tenpa Gyaltsen, b. 1965) is an abbot of Dzogchen Monastery, president of Nalandabodhi, the founder of Nitartha Institute, a leading Tibetan Buddhist scholar, and a meditation master. He is one of the highest tulkus in the Nyingma lineage and an accomplished Karma Kagyu lineage holder.
The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche was born in 1965 at Rumtek Monastery (Dharma Chakra Center) in Sikkim, India. His birth was prophesied by the supreme head of the Kagyu lineage, the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa, to Ponlop Rinpoche's parents, Dhamchö Yongdu, the General Secretary of the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa, and his wife, Lekshey Drolma. Upon his birth, he was recognized by the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa as the seventh in the line of Dzogchen Ponlop incarnations and was formally enthroned as The Seventh Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche at Rumtek Monastery in 1968.
After receiving Buddhist refuge and bodhisattva vows from the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa, The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche was ordained as a novice monk (Sanskrit: śrāmaṇera; Tib. dge tshul) in 1974. He subsequently received full ordination and became a bhikṣu (Tib. dge long), although he later returned his vows and is now a lay teacher.
Rinpoche received most of his teachings and empowerments from the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa and Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, though his primary teacher has been the yogi Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche. Ponlop Rinpoche began studying Buddhist philosophy at the primary school in Rumtek at age 12. Three years later, in 1980 on his first trip to the West, he accompanied the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa to Europe, United States, Canada, and Southeast Asia. While serving as the Karmapa's attendant, he also gave dharma teachings and assisted in ceremonial roles during these travels.
In 1981, he entered the monastic college at Rumtek, Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies where he studied the fields of Buddhist philosophy, psychology, logic, and debate. During his time at Rumtek, the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche worked for the Students' Welfare Union, served as head librarian, and was the chief-editor of the Nalandakirti Journal, an annual publication which brings together Eastern and Western views on Buddhism. Rinpoche graduated in 1990 as Ka-rabjampa from Karma Shri Nalanda Institute for Higher Buddhist Studies in Rumtek Monastery. (Ka-rabjampa means "one with unobstructed knowledge of scriptures", the Kagyu equivalent of the Sakya and Gelug's Geshe degree.) Also, he simultaneously earned the degree of Acharya, or Master of Buddhist Philosophy, from Sampurnanant Sanskrit University. Rinpoche has also completed studies in English and comparative religion at Columbia University in New York City.
As a witty, humorous and sensitive speaker Rinpoche is warmly greeted worldwide; as a teacher and prolific author the Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is well known for his teaching contributions to Bodhi magazine and elsewhere. He has also penned a number of books and articles:
- 2010: Rebel Buddha: On the Road to Freedom.
- 2007: Mind Beyond Death.
- 2006: Penetrating Wisdom: the Aspiration of Samantabhadra.
- 2003: Wild Awakening: The Heart of Mahamudra and Dzogchen.
- 2003: "Brief Histories of the Sixteen Karmapas". In: Music in the Sky: The Life, Art & Teachings of the 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. Snow Lion Publications, U.S.A. First Indian Reprint: New Age Books, New Delhi. (2004).
- The First Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche: Namkha Osel
- The Second Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche: Pema Sang-ngak Tenzin
- The Third Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche: Namkha Chokyi Gyatso (1806-1821?)
- The Fourth Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche: Jigme Choying Osel
- The Fifth Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche: Kunchok Tenpe Nyima
- The Sixth Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche : Jigtral Tsewang Dorje
- The Seventh Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche: Karma Sungrap Ngedon Tenpa Gyalts