Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche
The great Bön master Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche (1917-1978) served as lopon, or head teacher, of Menri Monastery in India.
Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche was born into the Jyab 'Og family, a family lineage held in very high esteem within the Bön tradition. He lived his early years in the nomadic region of Hor, Tibet, and studied for many years in the Drepung Monastery of the Gelugpa tradition near Lhasa, as well as under masters of the other major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. He became an accomplished master of sutra, tantra and dzogchen. Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche lived a very simple life, much of it in solitude, and his name was not widely known except among serious meditation practitioners; yet, he was considered by many to be the greatest Bön scholar of his generation.
Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche was a teacher of Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche and Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, and was known for his very direct, clear and strict teaching style. He encouraged Yongdzin Rinpoche to create a dialectic school at Menri Monastery, Dolanji, India, a place where monks could study intensively toward achieving a geshe degree, equivalent to a Ph.D. in philosophy and metaphysical studies from a Western university.
As Tenzin Rinpoche's first root master, for three years Lopon Sangye Tenzin gave Tenzin Rinpoche the formal dzogchen teachings of the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyu (Oral Transmission of Zhang Zhung). A few months after completing these teachings and entering a new cycle of the same teachings, he became gravely ill and asked Yongdzin Rinpoche to take on his role as lopon at the monastery.
Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche died in Dolanji in 1977 at age 67. After his death, according to his wishes his savings were used to found the dialectics school.
Nearly two decades later, in August 1995 Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche experienced a number of signs and dreams that told him Lopon Sangye Tenzin would soon reincarnate. By September 1996 additional signs and dreams told Tenzin Rinpoche that the great master's reincarnation had already been born in Chihuahua, Mexico, to the family of Jorge and Caty Valles. (Rinpoche had stayed in the Valles' house in September 1995 while giving teachings in Mexico and had felt a strong connection then with the family.) In August 1996 Caty Valles had given birth to her third child, young Jorge Rene; and the dreams and experiences of Caty and others substantiated Rinpoche's experiences. H.H. Lungtok Tenpai Nyima, spiritual leader of the Bön tradition, confirmed that from his own dreams and other signs received, it was very clear that young Jorge Rene was the reincarnation of Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche.
In the late 1990s Tulku Jorge Rene was enthroned at Menri Monastery. Today the young tulku is studying Tibetan, and has spent time in Dolanji with His Holiness and other teachers.