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 The Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche Lineage 

The Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche Lineage 

The First Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche

Born in Lhathog, Eastern Tibet, the first Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche remained a yogin his entire life. His meditational attainment was unsurpassable and he became known as "Gyalwa Tulku". Under his leadership, the Trungram Monastery located at the border of Sichuan and Tibet flourished; therefore "Trungram" was added to his name. His disciple and younger brother Trinley Rabgye later became the first Aten Rinpoche.


The Second Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche

The second Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche was a great scholar as well as a greatly accomplished practitioner. This was clearly displayed as a protrude crown on his head (Usnisa - one of the marks of a supreme emanation of Buddha).

The Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche
The Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche depicted in a wall painting of the refuge tree in Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche's monastery in Nepal

The Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche

The Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche (1894-1959) was born in the Wood Horse year in Derge, East Tibet and was recognized by the 15th Gyalwa Karmapa Khakyab Dorje (1871 - 1922). He was a heart disciple of Karmapa, respected and remembered among the Tibetans as one of the greatest meditation masters of the twentieth century. His knowledge of the Tripitaka and attainment in his meditation and Bodhisattva practice made him the model of a great master.

Tens of thousands of people in the thinly populated Tibet - laymen, monks, nuns, scholars, abbots and well known masters of the Kagyu, Nyingma, Sakya and Gelug schools, and the Bon tradition came to receive profound teachings from him. The broad range of students demonstrated the result of his Remay (non-sectarian) practices which enabled him to teach students from different schools in a style most suitable to each one of them. Among these students were H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, family members of H.H. the Sixteenth Karmapa, Chagmey Rinpoche, Dzigar Choktrul Rinpoche, Dzigar Thuksey Rinpoche, Zozi Jetrung Rinpoche, Zurmang Rolpai Dorje and many more.

As a child, the Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche was a very active boy who liked to play with dogs. At the age of eighteen, he suddenly became quiet and began to meditate in caves. The rest of Rinpoche's life was spent practicing meditation and helping others. Many short-term and long-term retreat houses were built by the Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche beside the Trungram Monastery. He brought in and established the Whispering Lineage (Nyengyu) practice as part of the Trungram Tradition. Most of the time Rinpoche stayed in Ngonmo Namzong (The Castle of the Blue Sky), a mountain cave not far from the monastery, doing intensive meditation practice. It is said that he loved to eat the nettles naturally growing around the cave. It is widely known that images of the dharma conch appeared on the bottom of his feet.

Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche's retreat cave
Quote from the Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche's Vajra Song
The Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche's retreat cave and part of his vajra song [full text]

One night when Rinpoche was imprisoned during the Cultural Revolution, he told five other close lamas that he would not submit to the torture that was scheduled to be carried out on him the next morning. Rinpoche had decided to leave the world and bring away the epidemic spreading in the prison. Shortly after saying this Rinpoche went into meditation and left his body. In this way he passed away on the tenth day of the sixth month of the Iron Mouse Year at the age of sixty-seven. After several days three other lamas also passed away, after which the epidemic ceased.

His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa used to say, "In the twentieth century, there is no other Rinpoche who can compare to the Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche. He has given sramanera and bhiksu precepts to countless reincarnated rinpoches and khenpos. He is also the root guru of my family members. I have received many teachings and initiations from him such as the Long Life Buddha initiation."

The Fourth Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche

The Fourth Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche was born to a Nepalese Sherpa family and was recognized by the 16th Karmapa as the reincarnation of the Third Trungram Gyalwa Rinpoche.

*In Buddhist symbolism, the right-turning conch shell symbolizes the fame of Buddha's teachings, which spreads in all directions like the sound of a conch trumpet.

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