The 8th International Conference Buddhism & Australia
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Khenpo Kyosang Rinpoche
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Khenpo Kyosang Rinpoche (His ame means in Tibetan “consolation in grief”) was born at the 17th of November in the year of wooden ox (glang shing) in a small village near from the lake Nganglaring Tsho. At the age of eight He was ordained in Kogcho Ling (lKog chos gLing), a monastery, that has closest relations to Tashihlunpo (the legend says, it was founded by His Holiness the first Tashi Lama). There Rinpoche began His Buddhist studies. He practiced and received many teachings and empowerments of Gelugpa tradition from Lama Lobsang Dragpa, from Jamyang Rinpoche and from Ven. Chokhan Chenpo Rinpoche, the khenpo (abbot) of the monastery.
In the time of communists invasion the monks flew to Gupta in South India where they founded Kogcho Ling monastery in exile. Many monks (Rinpoche among them) suffered in the new climate and got serious lung diseases.
While Rinpoche was still a student, He acted as assistant teacher in the monastery for some years. During that time, He also became known for His ability for explaining Buddhist philosophy and was recognized as a trulku (reincarnation) of the famous Kuthu Gangzag Rinpoche, a high lama of 19-th century, who himself was a reincarnation of lama Zhigla’i Lungtenpa.
At the age of 33 Rinpoche graduated from the shedra (monastic college) with the highest honors. After debates in many monasteries of Gelugpa lineage He was awarded the geshe lharamba (Doctor of Buddhist philosophy) degree. After His graduating and His formal enthronement as khenpo (abbot) in presence of many high authorities of Tibetan Buddhism, Rinpoche was able to found His own monastery, still He preferred to stay at Kogcho Ling at the request of Chokhan Chenpo Rinpoche and act as a shedra professor. After few years, Rinpoche became a lopon (i.e. a spiritual advisor) in the monastery and acted as a preceptor for novice and even for elder monks. At the same time He became well-known for His famous Dharma-teachings.
In December of 1988 a group of English and American researchers of Buddhism (among them Henry Colt, A. Tennis, and Dr. N. Hahn) went to India and were so inspired by Rinpoche’s teachings, that they asked Him to go to England and to found a Dharma centre or even a monastic college. It goes without saying, that Chokhan Rinpoche was against Kyosang Rinpoche’s going to Europe. However, as the latter felt a strong compassion to the Europeans, the former changed His mind and allowed Rinpoche to quit for Europe.
The same year Rinpoche went to London, where Phaglamgyi Yeshe Ling, a Dharma centre of Tibetan Buddhism, was founded. As Rinpoche wasn’t a citizen of GB, A. Tennis became its nominal head, while Dr. Nelly Hahn, who meanwhile took the vows of a laywoman (genyenma or upasika), made great efforts to propagate Buddhist ideas in London and acted as a generous sponsor of the centre (without Her resources the whole project would never start). Until 1995 the first Dharma centre of Rinpoche had a big success and became well-known.
Then troubles came.
From the very beginning Rinpoche aimed to teach His students in the sense of Je Tsongkapa’s noble ideas, to develop the Great Compassion for the sake of every living being within their hearts – so a big number of people, attracted to the centre by their wish to become “secret empowerments” and even to perform miracles, became disappointed and began to cast slurs upon Rinpoche’s teachings. (“Very few Englishman became my true disciple, motivated by altruism”, Rinpoche says. Nobody wanted to be ordained for a monk and even to take bodhisattva vows, so a regular shedra was impossible).
The Christian church authorities did as well their best to put obstacles in Rinpoche’s way and to ruin Rinpoche’s reputation. Here is only one example of their activities: In Europe, Rinpoche got acquainted with (Christian) classic music and show much admiration for it. As soon as His enemies learned the fact, they explained Rinpoche to be a “convert”, a “false lama”, a “product of Dr. Hahn’s fantasy” and so on.
To crown it all, Rinpoche used to make big efforts by speaking aloud (“Nobody hears me”, He complained), as a consequence, His lung diseases became acute, so He could hardly give public Dharma teachings.
(Rinpoche hasn’t yet completely recovered from His disease, so it is strictly forbidden to Him by His doctor to speak much, especially in public. Nonetheless, He still gives public teachings from time to time, by the help of His assistant and “translator”.)
The final crush came with the (quite a sudden) death of Dr. Nelly Hahn. The first project of Rinpoche collapsed, while He found himself in a very bad physical and financial condition, with no income sources.
We have to thank Magdalene Reucher, a German translator from Tibetan, who at this time became sympathy with Rinpoche’s teachings and offered Him her money and services. As a result of Rinpoche’s work with Mrs. Reucher, beautiful translations of some important teachings of Je Tsongkapa appeared.