Sey Rinpoche
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BIOGRAPHY

A view of the Pangi mountains from a window of Sural Gompa, in Pangi, Himachal. Sey Rinppoche has spent most of his childhood in the remote high Indian Himalayas mountains, in Sikkim, Pangi, Ladakh, etc.
A view of the Pangi mountains from a window of Sural Gompa, in Pangi, Himachal. Sey Rinpoche has spent most of his childhood in the remote high Indian Himalayas mountains, in Sikkim, Pangi, Ladakh, etc.

 
Shakya Shri

Ngawang Gelek Namgyal, more well-known as Sey Rinpoche, was born in 1963 as the son of the great enlightened yogi Kyabje Apho Rinpoche. Thus, His Eminence is the Third Lineage Holder of Tokden Drubwang Dugu Shakya Shri, in both the spiritual and familial sense.

Drubwang Shakya Shri (1853-1919) was a great enlightened yogi and Terton of the 19th century. He was a great Master of the Drukpa Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism and of the Rime Movement, amazingly accomplished in both Mahamudra and Dzogchen which he combined harmoniously.

Sey Rinpoche was recognized as the reincarnation of one of the heart students of Shakya Shri, the Ladakhi Tripon Pema Choegyal (1876-1958).

(Tokden Shakya  Shri)

 
(Gyalwa Gotsangpa)

Tripon Pema Choegyal was a great tantric practitioner who also came to be recognized as the emanation of Gyalwa Gotsangpa 1189-1258 (alias Gotsang Gonpo Dorje, one of the greatest yogis of Tibet) by the Eleventh Gyalwang Drukpa, the Supreme Head of the Drukpa Lineage.

Tripon Pema Choegyal was born in a small village of Chamtrel, in the western Himalayan region of Ladakh. At the age of 19, around 1894, he traveled on foot from Ladakh all the way to Eastern Tibet to receive extensive teachings from the Mahasiddha of the Drukpa Lineage, Tokden Shakya Shri. He devoted the rest of his life to retreat and teaching. Shakya Shri appointed him the holder of his transmissions, naming him “Tripon” (literally Throne Holder) Pema Choegyal.

Tripon Pema Choegyal later founded retreat centers in Tibet and Ladakh. Some of the well-known retreat centers he founded or took the direction of, in Tibet, were Sangag Choeling Retreat center, Jarkyi Phukdrup, Dechen Choekhor, Upper and Lower Drupdhey Cheys, etc.

Ladakh Ngawang Pema Chogyal
The great master and yogi Tripon Pema Choegyal

Among his close disciples were very eminent Drukpa Masters, such as the Eleventh Gyalwang Drukpa, Yeshe Gyatso (also known as Tenzin Khyenrab), Shri Sendrak Rinpoche, the Tokden Shakya Shri’s Grandsons Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche and Yeshe Rangdrol, known as Apho Rinpoche, the very father of HE Sey Rinpoche, etc.

Sey Rinpoche, reincarnation of Tripon Pema Choegyal, (the very root Guru of his father) was born in the retreat centre of Taktsey in Sikkim, Northern India, in 1963, where his father, the yogi Apho Rinpoche had settled with his family after a most difficult journey out of Tibet.

On hearing about the birth of this son of Apho Rinpoche, the great Master and Regent of the Drukpa Lineage, Thuksey Rinpoche -also cousin of Apho Rinpoche- journeyed from Darjeeling to Sikkim to see the baby, traveling together with Khenpo Noryang, the Abbot of the Drukpa Lineage monastic eat at Darjeeling. They bestowed the vows of Genyen to the boy, naming him Ngawang Gelek Namgyal. To ward off obstacles to his life, they also bestowed him a Chod (“Cutting Through”) empowerment.

When Sey Rinpoche was aged two, the followers of Shakya Shri’s teachings in the western Indian Himalayas of Ladakh, Zanskar and Lahoul, hearing about the presence of the spiritual and familial descendant of Drubwang Shakya Shri in India, invited Apho Rinpoche to live in their regions and give extensive guidance and teachings. So the family departed from Sikkim to join the Western Himalayas.

Around that time, Lama Takna Rinpoche and other followers of Tripon Pema Choegyal in India requested His Holiness the late Dudjom Rinpoche (then Head of the Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism) for a divination to determine the whereabouts of their Guru’s reincarnation. His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche replied in a letter saying that the young son of Apho Rinpoche was the reincarnation, and that he would be able to do great service to the cause of the holy Dharma if they performed certain rituals of the Three Roots (Gurus, Yidam, Dakinis). His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche’s divination was confirmed when the child, on seeing a painting of Mount Meru and Four Continents done by his previous incarnation, in the care of an attendant, Choydhen, said that it belonged to him and demanded it be handed back. Choydhen immediately informed all the disciples of Tripon Choegyal of this act.

Chemdrey monastery, Ladakh (a monastery of the Drukpa lineage)
Chemdrey monastery, Ladakh (a monastery of the Drukpa lineage)

In 1967, Sey Rinpoche was enthroned as the reincarnation of Tripon Pema Choegyal through an elaborate ceremony performed in Dalhousie, India. A year later. his father undertook to bestow to his “Very Precious Son”  the complete teachings and empowerments of Tokeden Shakya Shri, which included transmissions of the Eighteen texts of Chibri, the Mahamudra Practice of Kunga Tenzin, Twenti Two Anujna, Thirteen Deities of Akshobya, Lhenchik Chakrasamvara, the extensive Vajra Yogini empowerment, the Six Buddhas Families, Kilaya, etc.

Apho Rinpoche and his family spent three years in Ladakh, during which Apho Rinpoche founded the three retreat centers of Gotsang and Kheypang. In 1968, they left to settle in Manali (in the northern Indian state of Himachal Pradesh) and established his monastery there. While in Manali, the young Sey Rinpoche received the complete empowerment and teachings of all the Three Jewels and Three Roots (konchok Tsa Sum) from H.E the 8th Khamtrul Rinpoche.

The Eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche, Dongyu Nyima (1931-1980), was an amazing great yogi of the Drukpa lineage. The Sixth Khamtrul Rinpoche was the root Guru of Drubwang Shakya Shri.

In the early 1970’s, he traveled to Tashi Jong and received there the transmissions of the Whispered Treasures (Ngak Dzo) form HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. From him, he also received the vows of Upasaka, the vows of Bodhicitta in the two Chariot or systems of transmission as well as empowerment in the Secret Assembly of Dakinis, Chetsun Nyingthik, etc.

While in Tashi Jong, Khamtrul Rinpoche also bestowed on him the empowerments and teachings on Ling Re Guru Puja and the transmission of the Chakmey Richoe.

The Eighth Khamtrul Rinpoche, Dongyu Nyima (1931-1980), was an amazing great yogi of the Drukpa lineage. He founded the Khampagar monastery, in Tashi Jong. The Sixth Khamtrul Rinpoche was the root Guru of Drubwang Shakya Shri.

 

 

Druk Thubten Choling Monastery in Darjeeling, main seat of the Drukpa lineage founded by HE Thuksey Rinpoche
Druk Thubten Sangag Choling Monastery in Darjeeling, main seat of the Drukpa lineage founded by HE Thuksey Rinpoche

In 1974, Apho Rinpoche entrusted his “Precious Son” to the care of His Eminence Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche and of the Abbot Khenpo Noryang in Darjeeling, stating that he himself may not live very long. In the same year, Apho Rinpoche passed away. Sey Rinpoche then went to Thuksey Rinpoche’s Monastery in Darjeeling, (the main seat of the Drukpa Lineage in exile).

There Sey Rinpoche received spiritual and religious intensive and strict training for four years together with His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa.  At that time, His Eminence received teachings on the Preliminary Practices of Mahamudra as well as the series of all the Drukpa Lineage’s main Empowerments called the Garland of Vajras, with Mahakala, Chakrasamvara, Vajra Yogini, etc.

His Eminence Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche, regent of the Drukpa Lineage in the 60's and 70's.
His Eminence Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche, regent of the Drukpa Lineage in the 60's and 70's.

Sey Rinpoche also received from Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche the transmissions of the Seven Supreme Points of Interdependence, the Six points of Equal Taste, etc. At that time, he trained in mediation and practiced the single-pointed Samadhi. Before passing away, Thuksey Rinpoche gave him the teachings on the Drukpa’s Seven Gejor Contemplations.

After the departure of Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche from this world in 1983, Sey Rinpoche went to Bhutan to study and train in the advanced tantric yogas under the guidance of Lopon Sonam Zangpo, a realized disciple of Tokden Shakya Shri.

 
Lama Sonam Zangpo (1888-1984) was a direct student of Shakya Shri.
 

After the passing of his master in 1919, Lama Sonam Zangpo continued to live on in Kyibuk, Tibet, for another ten years teaching and guiding Shakya Shri's students. Later he went on to teach extensively in Bhutan, in many important monasteries. However, similar to his Master Shakya Shri, he was a retreat-like yogi who principally lived and taught students in jungles and forests. Lama Sonam Zangpo looked after Sey Rinpoche’s father, Apho Rinpoche when the later was young (10-16 years of age) since his father had died young. In addition to caring for Apho Rinpoche, Lama Sonam Zangpo taught him Dzogchen and Mahamudra.

Later, during the years when Sey Rinpoche in turn practiced under Lopon Sonam Zangpo’s guidance, he received the instructions on the Six Yogas of Naropa and trained in them diligently while living in a retreat hut in the wilderness. He successfully completed the test of Tumo (psychic heat) by wearing a a white sheet dipped in icy water and drying the sheet by generating inner heat. Lopon Sonam Zangpo also gave him various other secret Whispered transmissions pf Drubwang Shakya Shri. At the end of Sey Rinpoche’s training in Bhutan, Lopon Sonam Zangpo told him, “You are the holder of all my transmissions. Now that you have received them all, I will have no regret when I, an old man, die.”

Paro monastery is famous as one of the most sacred places in the Himalayas. It is symbol of the sacredness of Bhutan, is also called Druk Yul, "the country of the Drukpa lineage". It is extraordinarily blessed and conducive for esoteric Vajrayana pracice.
Paro Taksang monastery, in Bhutan, is renowed as one of the most sacred places in the Himalayas. It is symbol of the sacredness of Bhutan, a crountry which is also called Druk Yul, "the land of the Drukpa lineage". It is extraordinarily blessed and conducive for esoteric Vajrayana pracice..

Sey Rinpoche later also received teachings and empowerments from HE Adeu Rinpoche, including the Five Sets of Wrathful Deities, Five Sets of Sadhana, Mahakala and Mahakali, the Garland of Vajras, hundred of sadhanas, the set of the Twenty-Two and the set of the Twenty-Eight empowerments, and the Guru Puja of Marpa, Milarepa and Gampopa.

Then Sey Rinpoche went to Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche to receive the teachings and empowerments of the collection of Nyingma transmissions known as the Rinchen Terdzoe and others Nyingma tantras and oral transmissions. He also studied Buddhist dialectics and Prajnaparamita in the Gelugpa tradition for three years at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics in Dharamasala.

In 1984, Sey Rinpoche’s mother passed away in Manali and His Eminence had to return in order to take care of the familial monastery and continue his Father’s activities.

In order to fulfill the wishes of his Gurus Apho Rinpoche, Thuksey Rinpoche and Lopon Sonam Zangpo, Sey Rinpoche married in 1986 and thus continues the tradition of his yogic familial lineage.

In Manali, His Eminence continued to receive the remaining teachings and whispered transmission from the yogi and retreat Master Gen Khyentse, Abbot of the monastery.

 

Gegen Khyentse Rinpoche Gegen Khyentse Rinpoche (1913-1998)

Gegen Khyentse Gyatso Rinpoche was a disciple of Tripon Pema Chogyal and a great yogi. Born in southern Tibet, he basically was the son of a most important personal assistant to the 10th Gyalwang Drukpa. After himself serving his country as the General Secretary to the Ministry of Administration for many years, he went for continuous retreat under the guidance of the great master Tripon Pema Chogyel, with no attachment to his position within the society. He served his master with his full-hearted practice of Mahamudra. After Great Master Tripon Pema Chogyel's parinirvana, Khyenste continued his retreat under the guidance of Apo Rinpoche. He became a renowned Mahamudra guru who served and guided the students and disciple of Apho Rinpoche in Manali as well as in the northern Indian Himalayas, especially Lahoul, Ladakh, Kinnaur, etc.

Since the sad departure of Gen Khyentse, Sey Rinpoche undertook to develop his own activities and to give teachings and guidance to his Gurus followers in the Drukpa Lineage tradition, taking care of the Manali Monastery and assisting all the retreat centers founded by his father in the northern Indian Himalayas. Sey Rinpoche particularly bestows the transmission of the Six Yogas of Naropa to retreatants. He is also especially known for his phowa, or the teachings on transfer of consciousness. As the modern world changes in a fast pace, His Eminence has undertaken the task to fulfill growing needs in the remote Himalyan areas which are under his spiritual guidance and so, is also expending his humanitarian activities, especially in the Pangi region.

 
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Sey Rinpoche