Tulku Pondse Jigme Tenzin (Jorge René Valles Sandoval)

Tulku Jorge Rene 2012 copyTulku Pondse Jigme Tenzin—born Jorge René Valles Sandoval on Aug. 17, 1996, in Chihuahua, México—is considered the reincarnation of the great Bömaster Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche (1917–1978).

Only a few weeks after Jorge René’s birth, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche informed his parents, Caty and Jorge Valles, that Jorge Rene was the incarnation of Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche, who served as head teacher of Menri Monastery in India. (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.) 

His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima Rinpoche, the 33rd Menri Trizin and spiritual leader of the Bötradition, soon afterwards confirmed that from his own dreams and other signs received, it was very clear that young Jorge René was the reincarnation of Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche.

In May 1997, H.E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, the most senior teacher of the Bötradition, visited México to meet with the young tulku’s parents to talk with them about the life of the late Löpon Sangye Tenzin and of the importance of caring for and protecting the reincarnated child. In July of that same year, His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima met with young Jorge René in Santa Fe, New Mexico, to offer his blessings and prayers for all the Valles family.

A year later, in July 1998, the first meeting between Tulku Jorge René and Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak took place in Santa Fe. Also present were Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche, abbot of Triten Norbutse Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, and Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche.

JR and HHTulku Jorge Rene was enthroned at Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, in December 1999 by His Holiness Lungtok Tenpai Nyima, who gave young Jorge the name of Pondse Jigme Tenzin. On Jan. 1, 2000, he also was enthroned at Triten Norbutsé Monastery in Khatmandu, Nepal, by Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche and Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche before the whole monastery community and Western practitioners.

Since that time, Tulku Jorge René has regularly spent time and received teachings at Triten Norbutsé Monastery in Khatmandu and Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India. He has received dharma instruction in his hometown in Mexico from various tutors, including Geshe Yungdrung Gyaltsen, Geshe Nyima Oser and Lama Kalsang Nyima.

From August 2008 to June 2009, Tulku Jorge Rene stayed for 11 months at Menri Monastery under the care and guidance of his tutor, Geshe Yungdrung Tsultrim. Over the next three years, Geshe Yungdrung Tsultrum spent many months in Chihuahua giving dharma instruction to the young tulku.

Since 2000 Tulku Jorge Rene has attended Summer Retreats at Ligmincha International at Serenity Ridge in Shipman, Virginia. He also has attended most of the retreats and seminars organized by Ligmincha Mexico, joining Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche and Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche.

Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche

 

Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche is the abbot (khenpo) of Triten Norbutse Monastery in Kathmandu, Nepal, one of the two main Bömonasteries outside of Tibet. Khenpo Rinpoche was born in 1969 in Dhorpatan, a remote area of western Nepal that hosts a small Tibetan refugee settlement and a Bömonastery. Established with aid from the Swiss Red Cross, the Dhorpatan settlement is one of the earliest refugee camps for Tibetans in exile; most of its residents are Bönpos from western Tibet.

The monastery in Dhorpatan, Tashi Gegye Thaten Ling, was founded by the 32nd Menri Abbot, Kundun Sherap Lodroe. Khenpo Rinpoche's father, Lama Tsultrim Nyima, was an accomplished practitioner who dedicated his life to the welfare of the Dhorpatan community and the survival of the precious Yungdrung Bötradition. It was a great loss to Khenpo Rinpoche and the community when his father passed away at a relatively early age. Khenpo Rinpoche expresses deep gratitude toward his mother, Nyima Choedon, who cared for him single-handedly for many years after his father died, and toward his uncle, who first taught him the Bon scriptures.

At age 11 Khenpo Rinpoche joined other students in studying with Lama Sonam Gyaltsen Rinpoche, the abbot of Tashi Gegye Thaten Ling. After completing an initial course of study of the Böritual texts and Tibetan calligraphy, he transferred with three other students to Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India, for further studies. In order to reach Menri Monastery, the four young students, along with Lama Sonam Gyaltsen Rinpoche and a man named A-Gyam, spent eight days walking alongside a horse caravan and another three days traveling by bus. Says Khenpo Rinpoche, "Upon our arrival at Menri Monastery I had the golden opportunity to see both His Holiness Menri Trizin Rinpoche and Yongdzin (Lopon) Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. At that time they were living a simple life in terms of material possessions, but they were engaged in the great endeavor of reestablishing the Yungdrung Bon doctrine in the world."

That month Khenpo Rinpoche and his fellow students were admitted to the dialectic school at Menri Monastery, bring the total number of students there to 26. For 13 years to come, Khenpo Rinpoche and other monks studied the complete Böphilosophical system of sutra, tantra and dzogchen; and the general Tibetan sciences including Tibetan grammar, poetics, white and black astrology, Sanskrit grammar, sacred geometry or arts, and general Tibetan medicine. Khenpo Rinpoche remembers with deep gratitude his teacher Gen Gyaltsen Choglek—affectionately known as Gen Samgha, or "happy hearted teacher"—and notes that his teacher's immeasurable kindness served as a beacon for his studies and his success. A great practitioner, Gen Gyaltsen Choglek passed away at Triten Norbutse with incredible signs of realization in 2002.

In 1986, Khenpo Rinpoche began teaching philosophy and general Tibetan sciences to younger students. During this 13-year period he also participated in many ritual ceremonies and cultural and social activities. From 1989 through 1992 he served as accountant, treasurer and then president of the school, and for a time he also served as the monastery's ritual leader and discipline master. In 1994, having successfully completed the traditional 13-year course of study, Khenpo Rinpoche passed the 10-day final examination and was awarded his geshe degree (doctorate) with acknowledgment from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. At that time 101 students were enrolled in the dialectic school. "All of this was accomplished because of the infinite kindness of my root lama His Holiness Menri Trizin Rinpoche, my root lama His Excellence Yongdzin (Lopon) Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, Geshe Yungdrung Namgyal, and all of my other teachers," says Khenpo Rinpoche. "Without their love, protection, guidance and the gift of their wisdom, it would not be possible for me to have the good fortune to enjoy the benefit of the precious Yungdrung Bon teachings."

After graduating, Khenpo Rinpoche went to Kathmandu to further his studies of tantra and dzogchen under the guidance of Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. In 1996 His Holiness Menri Trizin Rinpoche and Yongdzin Rinpoche appointed Khenpo Rinpoche as ponlob (principal teacher) of Triten Norbutse Monastery. Even though this was an unexpected and challenging assignment for a young lama, Khenpo Rinpoche says he strongly felt the blessings of His Holiness and Yongdzin Rinpoche and enthusiastically accepted the opportunity to serve the Bon community and its ancient teachings. Since then Khenpo Rinpoche has taught at the Yungdrung Bon Academy of Higher Studies at Triten Norbutse Monastery, under the blessings of Yongdzin Rinpoche.

In 2001, Rinpoche was appointed as khenpo (abbot) of the monastery by H.H. Menri Trizin Rinpoche and H.E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche. Triten Norbutse Monastery was founded by H.E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche in 1987 for the preservation and development of the Yungdrung Bötradition. This is one of the two main Bömonasteries outside Tibet, providing a comprehensive and rigorous study of the broad spectrum of Böteachings and traditions. Today, 170 resident monks study and practice there.

Since 1998 Khenpo Rinpoche has been regularly traveling around Europe and America giving teachings, including leading retreats with H.E. Yongdzin Rinpoche. Since 2005, with guidance from H.E. Yongdzin Rinpoche and help from dedicated volunteer committees, Khenpo Rinpoche has taken the responsibility of establishing the congregation of Shenten Dargye Ling in Paris, France (http://shenten.org/), for the preservation, research, teaching and practice of the Yungdrung Bon tradition.

Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche

 

ytn_gompa_hat_smile.jpgH.E. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche is the most senior teacher of the Bötradition and is considered the world's foremost expert on Bön. Yongdzin Rinpoche was born in 1926 in Khyungpo Karru in the Khyunpo district of Kham province, eastern Tibet. At age 7 he entered Tengchen Monastery, a local monastery where his uncle served as chant leader. There he entered into an extensive course of education, and at age 14 he took his vows as a monk.

In 1940 at age 15, the young monk traveled with his uncle to Yungdrung Ling, a leading Bömonastery in central Tibet. From 1940 to 1942 he spent much time there helping to execute wall paintings, making use of his training since age 11 as an artist and painter. In late 1942 he went on pilgrimage in Nepal and western Tibet, returning to Yungdrung Ling in mid-1943 to begin his studies in philosophy.

From 1944 to late 1948 Yongdzin Rinpoche lived and studied with his tutor and master Gangru Tsultrim Gyaltsan Rinpoche, who had retired from 18 years of service as lopon (principal teacher) of Yungdrung Ling. Much of this period was spent in seclusion in a remote meditation cave at Juru Tso Lake in Namtsokha, northern Tibet, where Gangru Ponlob Rinpoche taught him grammar, poetics, monastic discipline, cosmology and the stages of the path to enlightenment according to sutra, tantra and dzogchen. During this time, along with his busy schedule of scholarly pursuit on various profound subjects of philosophy and general Tibetan sciences, Rinpoche managed to complete 900,000 accumulations of the Ngondro practices as well as the dzogchen practices of trekchod and thogal with profound accomplishment.

At the conclusion of this time, in late 1948 he traveled to Menri Monastery in Tsang province, central Tibet, to complete his studies toward a geshe degree (the Tibetan equivalent of a doctorate in philosophy). His main teacher at Menri was Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche. In 1952 at age 27, he was awarded his degree, and that same year was elected to succeed his master as lopon (principal teacher) of the monastery. By 1957, conflict was escalating in central Tibet between native Tibetans and the encroaching Chinese Communists, at which time Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche retired from his activities as lopon. He traveled to Se-zhig Monastery on the Dang-ra lake in northern Tibet and remained in retreat there until 1960, just after the Lhasa uprising against the Chinese Communist occupiers.

Amid the violence and occupation, many famous living Tibetan masters of the time were forced to flee their homeland, among them H.H. the Dalai Lama and H.H. the Gyalwa Karmapa. Lopon Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche attempted to escape on foot, along with group of lamas and monks of Menri including the 32nd abbot of Menri, his foremost disciple, carrying with them important texts and relics. But on the way south toward India he was shot by Chinese soldiers. Thinking him dead, the Chinese left the great master lying in the dirt. One of his close attending monks helped him to a nearby family, who took him into hiding.

In his escape, Yongdzin Rinpoche was able to conceal the famous stupa of Nyame Sherab Gyaltsen together with statues, precious relics and other sacred objects in a cave at Lug-do Drag in the area of Tsochen, Tibet. When he had recovered enough to resume his travels, he carried with him volumes of texts to ensure their preservation. (These sacrd objects are now safely restored in Menri Monastery, Tibet. 

For about 22 days the escape party traveled by night and hid during the day until they reached safe haven in Nepal along with the volumes of important texts. In Nepal, he stayed for some time at Najyin Monastery, Kathmandu. In 1961 he met the renowned English Tibetologist Dr. David Snellgrove of London University, who invited him to London along with Geshe Sangye Tenzin (the present H.H. Menri Trizin) and Geshe Samten Karmay.

Under a Rockefeller Foundation Grant in the visiting scholar program, Lopon Tenzin Namdak resided in England, first at the University of London, and then at Cambridge University. Thereafter he made a retreat at a Benedictine monastery on the Isle of Wight. His three years in England (19611964) and collaboration with Dr. Snellgrove culminated in the 1967 publication in English of The Nine Ways of Bön (Oxford University Press), the first scholarly study of the Bötradition to be made in the West. In 1964 he returned to India where he republished precious Tibetan texts. There he also assumed the critical task of raising funds to establish a Bönpo settlement and monastery in northern India.

From 1964 to 1967 Lopon Tenzin Namdak strived desperately to keep the Bönpo people and their culture alive in exile. In 1967, with financial assistance from the Catholic Relief Service, he bought a tract of land at Dolanji, near Solan in Himachal Pradesh, northwest India, and started a Tibetan settlement, school and monastery there. Following the 1963 death of Kundun Sherab Lodroe (the 32nd abbot of Menri), the abbot of Yungdrung Ling, H.H. Sherab Tenpai Gyaltsen, became temporary spiritual leader of the Bönpo community in exile.

By the leadership of H.H. Sherab Tenpai Gyaltsen and the inspiration of Lopon Sangye Tenzin and many other lamas, Yongdzin Rinpoche took responsibility for locating a successor to the deceased abbot.

In March 1968, Sangye Tenzin Jongdong (H.H. Lungtok Tenpai Nyima) was selected in the traditional way as Menri Trizin, throne holder of Menri Monastery; and thus became the spiritual leader of Bön. Together, Yongdzin Rinpoche and H.H. Menri Trizin worked to build the monastic community in Dolanji, which at the time was the only Bönpo monastery in India. In mid-1968 Yongdzin Rinpoche made a second visit to Europe and served as visiting scholar at the University of Munich. From 1969 to 1978 he continued his work at Dolanji, including writing, publishing, practicing, transmitting initiations and teaching the lamas and monks. Upon the death of Lopon Sangye Tenzin in 1977 after a protracted illness, he was given full responsibility for teaching the younger generation of monks. In 1978 a dialectic school was established and organized under his guidance. In 1986 the first class of monks graduated from the Dialectic School with their geshe degrees.

That year Yongdzin Rinpoche traveled to visit Tibet; and on his return via Kathmandu, Nepal, with his money and some loans he acquired a small piece of land where he would build the future monastery of Triten Norbutse. The monastery was formally founded in 1987 on its site at the foot of Nagarjuna hill to the west of the famous hill of Swayambhu at the far end of the Kathmandu Valley.

Triten Norbutse has since become one of the two main Bömonasteries outside Tibet, providing an extensive and rigorous comprehensive study of the broad spectrum of Böteachings and traditions.

Today 170 resident monks study and practice there. Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche maintained a regular teaching schedule there, while making numerous excursions to teach in the West. In 1993, Heart Drops of Dharmakaya, his commentary on Shardza Tashi Gyaltsen Rinpoche’s book of dzogchen practice, was published in English by Snow Lion Publications. Since 1995 Yongdzin Rinpoche has visited Europe regularly to give teachings, and has also frequently visited the United States at the invitation of his former student from Dolanji, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, as well as others. He has regularly taught retreats in France, where the Association Yungdrung Bon was set up by his Western students to facilitate his work in the West and in particular Europe. In 2005 Shenten Dargye Ling, a congregation legally recognized by the French government, was established in France for the preservation, research, teaching and practice of Yungdrung Bön.

The information in this account is drawn in large part from Bönpo Dzogchen Teachings according to Lopon Tenzin Namdak, transcribed and edited by John Myrdhin Reynolds. Kathmandu, Nepal: Vajra Publications, 2006; and was further revised for accuracy by Khenpo Tenpa Yungdrung Rinpoche, the current abbot of Triten Norbutse Monastery.

Watch a video of H. E. Yongdzin Rinpoche's 80th Birthday.

H.E. Menri Lopon Trinley Nyima Rinpoche

 

ponlop1-150.jpgH.E. Menri Lopon Trinley Nyima Rinpoche is the lopon, or head instructor, of Menri Monastery in Dolanji, India.

Born in Dolpo, a remote region of western Nepal, he has the family name of “Yangton” and an ancestry that traces back to Yangton Sherab Gyaltsen, a famous dzogchen and tantric master of the 11th century. Rinpoche began his training in 1976 at the age of 10. He received his geshe degree in 1989 from the Dialectic School at Menri Monastery and has been teaching there since then.

He became lopon of the monastery in 1992.

Lopon Sangye Tenzin Rinpoche

lopon_sangye_tenzin_large.jpg

The great Bömaster 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 Bötradition. 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 Böscholar 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 Bötradition, 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.