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Tulku Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche

Chokyi Nyima RinpocheIn the seventh lunar month of 1951, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche was born into the Tsangsar family as the first-born son of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche whose family has, for many generations, held the now rare Barom Kagyü lineage. At 18 months of age, Chökyi Nyima - Sun of the Dharma - was recognized as the seventh incarnation of the Drikung Kagyü Lama, Gar Drubchen, a Tibetan siddha and spiritual emanation of Nagarjuna, the second-century Indian Buddhist philosopher. Soon after, he was enthroned at his predecessor's monastery, Drong Gon Tubten Dargye Ling Monastery in Nakchukha, Central Tibet, where he resumed his role as Dharma Master to 500 monks.

Shortly before the Chinese invasion of Tibet in 1959, Chökyi Nyima migrated with his parents and younger brother, Chokling Rinpoche, to Gangtok, Sikkim. During his younger years, he was enrolled at the Young Lamas' School in Dalhousie, India. At the age of 13, he entered Rumtek, seat of the Kagyü School of Tibetan Buddhism, and spent the next eleven years studying the Karma Kagyü, Drikung Kagyü, and Nyingma traditions under the guidance of such eminent masters as H.H. the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, H.H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. His studies included such philosophical treatises as Vasubhandu's Abhidharma Kosha, the Five Texts of Maitreya, Dharmakirti's Pramanavartika, Shantideva's Bodhicarya Avatara, and Chandrakirti's Madhyamaka Avatara. At a very early age, Tulku Chökyi Nyima achieved the degree of Khenpo.

In 1974, Tulku Chökyi Nyima left Rumtek, where he had been personal aide to the Karmapa, and joined his father and younger brother, Chokling Rinpoche, in Boudhanath, Nepal where, at the command of the 16th Karmapa, they established Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery close to the Great Stupa Jarung Khashor. After its completion in 1976, he was instructed by the Karmapa to become its 25-year-old abbot. His Holiness also advised Tulku Chökyi Nyima to turn his efforts towards instructing Western practitioners. To fulfill this directive, Rinpoche honed his English language skills and began to offer weekend teachings to the Western travelers.

In 1980, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche and his father, Tulku Urgyen, embarked on a tour of Europe, the United States, and Southeast Asia where they gave Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings and empowerments to numerous people.

In 1981, Tulku Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche established the Rangjung Yeshe Institute in accordance with the wishes of his father, Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, as a yearly two-week seminar focusing on specific topics within Buddhism. While these seminars have covered a wide variety of subjects, the theme of transmission of direct insight into the nature of mind has been common through all of them.

The Shedra Studies Program evolved out of Rinpoche's wish to expand the scope of teachings available to non-Tibetan speaking Dharma students, especially on detailed and specific topics of knowledge. As Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche explained in a 1996 interview:

"Over the years, many of my students have learned Tibetan and several can act as translators and interpreters. Other students of mine can read the scriptures in Tibetan and understand their meaning. However, we haven't formed an institution that could accurately be called a center of higher Buddhist studies".

Accordingly, in addition to Rinpoche's annual two- week seminar, since 1997 the Institute has offered an extended and integrated course of study on particular subjects included within a traditional education in Mahayana Buddhism. These topics are introduced in a progressive order, becoming increasingly more specific. They are intended to guide the student through the various views of the Four Philosophical Schools and the Nine Vehicles of Buddhism.

The Institute, in partnership with Kathmandu University will also offer a B.A. degree. Students in the B.A. program will able to stay in Nepal year-round on student visas, which will greatly facilitates their studies and practice.

Rinpoche has a good command of the English language, and has been instructing a growing number of Western students in meditation practice since 1977. When his busy schedule allows, Rinpoche opens his doors and gives free Saturday Teachings to interested Westerner travelers, and each fall conducts an English-translated Dharma Seminar.