Lama Tsering Wangdu Rinpoche
Lama Tsering Wangdu Rinpoche was born in the village of Langkor in West Dingri, Tibet, near the Mt. Everest region, in 1936. He began studying with his guru, Napdra Rinpoche, at age 8.
When Rinpoche was in his early twenties, Napdra Rinpoche sent him on a traditional Chöd retreat to 100 cremation grounds, where he had many profound experiences. Upon conclusion of the retreat, his teacher acknowledged his accomplishment in the practice and sent him on pilgrimage to Nepal, where he arrived in 1958. Rinpoche eventually made his way to the Kathmandu Valley, where he settled in the Tibetan refugee camp in Jawalakehl. He lived for many years among the refugees, and became one of the few pujaris (ritual practitioners) accessible to both the Tibetan refugee population as well as the local Nepalese community. He is well-known in Kathmandu for his powers as a healer. You can view photos of Rinpoche in Kathmandu at the Nityananda Institute Nepal website.
In addition to studying with Napdra Rinpoche, Rinpoche has received teachings and transmissions from many extraordinary lamas, including His Holiness the XIVth Dalai Lama, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche, His Eminence Surkhang Rinpoche, His Eminence Urgyen Tulku, and His Eminence Chatral Rinpoche. Rinpoche has received transmission of the entire Longchen Nyingthig teachings, an important tradition in the Nyingma school, and the complete teachings and practices of Padampa Sangye, a great Indian mahasiddha who is credited with bringing Chöd practice to Tibet.
Swami Chetanananda met Rinpoche during a trip to Nepal in 1997, and they both describe their first encounter as the meeting of two currents. They immediately recognized the authenticity of the other’s spiritual work and the complementary nature of their practices. Since then, they have spent extensive time together, sharing knowledge and experiences.
In August 1999, Rinpoche made his first trip to the United States, travelling to Bloomington, Indiana to attend the Kalachakra initiation and spending several months at The Movement Center in Portland, Oregon. He has spent several months each year in Portland and has visited Los Angeles, Boston, and New York City. During his visits, he has practiced with The Movement Center's students, given teachings and initiations, and worked on translations of texts from Padampa Sangye, Machig Labdron and from the Longchen Nyingthig tradition.
Rinpoche is a master of the practice of Chöd. Chöd is an ancient tantric practice that teaches about the essence of sacrifice. It is traditionally performed in cremation grounds and other frightening places where emotional energy is intensified. Using a drum, bell and thighbone trumpet, the Chöd practitioner summons all harmful spirits and offers them a visualized feast consisting of the practitioner’s own body. Through Chöd, a practitioner learns to cut through attachment to appearances and come to understand the underlying unity of all things. In the hands of a practitioner such as Lama Wangdu, Chöd is also a powerful ritual for physical and mental healing and pacifying environmental disturbances. Rinpoche is believed to be the last person of his lineage to have completed the traditional training.
In March 2003, Rinpoche attended teachings by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India. During that visit, His Holiness told him that the Zhi-je teachings of Padampa Sangye, including practices for the pacification of suffering, were especially precious and relevant to contemporary conditions. His Holiness asked Rinpoche to establish a monastery in Kathmandu to continue these teachings in Nepal.
The monastery, Pal Gyi Dingri Langkor Jangsem Kunga Ling, was officially consecrated in November, 2004. Swamiji was among the many VIPs in attendance. Venerable Trulshik Rinpoche, one of the most prominent lamas of the Nyingma school, traveled from Solu Khumbu in the Himalayas for the occasion. He honored Lama Wangdu Rinpoche by cutting the ribbon to signify the official opening of the monastery.
Audio and video recordings of Rinpoche's performances of the Chöd, Phowa and Kusali Tsok are available from Rudra Press. More information about Rinpoche and a complete biography can be found at Rinpoche's website.