BIOGRAPHY – CONTINUATION
His mother, Tsering Drolma, hailed from the family of his previous incarnation. She had a strong connection to her brother, who before his early passing told her not to worry and that they would soon meet again. The family, being sure of his soon returning, were filled with joy when Tsering Drolma’s second son was born. Many signs surrounded her pregnancy and once born he was quickly recognised as the true reincarnation of Patrul Rinpoche.
The family had no doubts that it was her brother who had taken rebirth, nevertheless, they were concerned about his well-being and future. So, in agreement with many lamas they decided not to make the new incarnation public, considering the many adverse conditions the previous incarnations had faced. Therefore, it was only much later that he was recognised as the true reincarnation of Dzogchen Patrul Rinpoche by H.H. Mindrolling Trichen Rinpoche and H.H. Dzogchen Rinpoche.
As a young boy he was often herding hundreds of yaks in the harsh and unforgiving climate of Tibet. With no proper clothing and sleeping outside, he had to face the hardships all alone. His only company was the herd of his yaks and the wild wolves calling out through the night.
Once he fell off his horse and was thrown off a cliff. Tumbling down to a certain gruesome end, in the last moment he managed to latch on to a single branch of a tree which saved him.
Stories like these surround Patrul Rinpoche in his youth; events that surely have contributed to his already fearless and determined mind.
Not only did he show strength through his body, but it became apparent early that his mind was already matured and saturated with the Dharma. Showing great compassion to his friends and family made him loved and cherished by those who met him. Also, he showed great love and affection to the animals under his care.
He stood out by not eating meat, one of the main sources of nutrition of the nomads of Tibet, who have little else to eat.
His father showed him the Tibetan alphabet only once with a few combinations of letters and he was able to read without study. He received no formal education before entering Dzogchen Monastery, as is the case for most children of the nomad families in Tibet. Patrul Rinpoche stayed with his family until he was fourteen years old. He then entered Dzogchen Monastery, where he would stay for six years.
He was ordained a monk by Choktrül Drukpa Kuchung Rinpoche, the reincarnation of the famous crazy wisdom lama Drukpa Künley, from whom he received numerous teachings and transmissions.
Though he had entered the monastery at relatively old age, regarding the Tibetan tradition, he became the heart-son of his teachers, quickly gaining mastery of all subjects in the monastery.
With seemingly little strenuous effort, as if he already knew the arts by heart, he mastered chanting, sacred dance and music, painting masks and thangkas, maṇḍalas, the making of tormas and recitation.
Dzogchen monastery is revered for its outstanding leaders of chant (umzes) and temple attendants (chöpöns). Perfect conduct and performing each element within the rituals of Tibetan Buddhism is of utmost importance and not taken lightly. In this environment Patrul Rinpoche, still very young, would be assigned the honorable position of chöchen, or great chöpön. He would proceed to train many of his fellow students and share his knowledge with them.
During this time, the monastery was being rebuilt and he took part in the renovation work. He kept working during all seasons of the year with such vigour and energy that few could keep up.
To this day, you will find Patrul Rinpoche working with power tools, machines and doing construction work. While developing his Dharma centres around the world, even students half his age have trouble keeping up. He does not only teach the words of a bodhisattva’s activity, but he also puts those words into actions.
After his six years in Dzogchen Monastery, he transferred to Dzogchen Śri Siṃha University for higher studies. Here he would study with many great scholars.
Among them were Khenchen Dechen Namdröl, Kyabje Dzogchen Rinpoche, Choktrül Drukpa Künley Rinpoche, Choktrül Pema Kalzang Rinpoche, Choktrul Tokden Tülku Rinpoche, Khenchen Dawai Özer, Khenchen Pema Tsewang, Khenchen Künang Özer and Khandro Dasal Wangmo, the reincarnation of Draku Lösal Wangmo, all of whom transmitted to him the deep and vast treasury of the Buddha’s teachings. He completed the intense curriculum of higher Buddhist studies in only a few years. At the end of his studies his teachers bestowed on him all due honours and the degrees of Khenpo and Dorje Lopön.
He later taught as a Khenpo for four years in Drupong Dzogchen Monastery, in southern India. He founded the Dharma centre of the Nyingthik Diamond Vehicle. He became well know by the locals for his extraordinary skill in powa, the transference of consciousness for the dying, helping their loved ones. His transmissions were attended by many from both the lay and ordained communities. He was requested to remain in the external seat of Dzogchen monastery.
On April 7th, 1997, Dzogchen Ranyak Patrul Rinpoche
was officially recognized as
the fourth reincarnation of Dza Patrul Rinpoche,
the third reincarnation of Ranyak Patrul.
Mindrolling Trichen, then the head of Nyingma school, wrote a letter of recognition. This letter also specified practices to be performed in Dzogchen to clear any obstacles to Patrul Rinpoche’s activities. Dzogchen Jigme Lösal Wangpo Rinpoche (the current reincarnation of Dzogchen Rinpoche) wrote a letter with the aspiration prayers so that all Patrul Rinpoche’s activities benefit the teachings and all beings.
H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama wrote a letter in 1999, supporting Mindrolling Trichen Rinpoche’s letter of recognition.
Kyabje Pema Kalzang Rinpoche performed the enthronement ceremony in Brussels, Belgium, 11th of June 2000. He wrote the letter declaring that Ranyak Patrul Rinpoche was one of the Dzogchen teachers of Tibet. Kyabje Pema Kalzang Rinpoche, as a representative of all Dzogchen masters of Dzogchen valley who were not present that day, performed the enthronement with all their blessings.
Patrul Rinpoche’s activities have ceaselessly continued to grow, with Semrig centers and devoted students all over the world.
He gives teachings at these centres in Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine, United Kingdom and Japan, as well as other places in Asia.
The Dzogchen centres, also known as the Semrig centres, are directed by Patrul Rinpoche, under the spiritual supervision of Kyabje Pema Kalzang Rinpoche and Kyabje Zenkar Rinpoche who gave the name to Patrul Rinpoche’s first Dzogchen centre (Belgium) in 1998.
When he is not travelling and giving teachings, Patrul Rinpoche resides in Belgium, in the area of Wallonia, where he has established Dharma City. He also founded the Zangdok Palri Institute that holds a six-year degree course for Dzogchen pracitioners and a non-degree course in general Buddhist studies. Students gather every summer from both near and far, for weeks of intense Buddhist studies in Dharma City.
In 2010 the Zangdok Palri Temple in Tibet was inaugurated. It is a beautiful temple in the valley of Dzogchen in the vicinity of Dzogchen monastery. The temple is part of the preservation project for Tibetan culture and religion in Tibet, a work that Patrul Rinpoche began in 2002.
In 2005 Patrul Rinpoche founded the Wisdom Treasury Publishing House in Brussels, Belgium, with the aim of publishing scriptures and commentaries associated with the Longchen Nyingthik lineage and Dzogchen Monastery, as well as other texts that are directly or indirectly associated with the wisdom of the Buddha.
Furthermore, he started the Sambhota Translation Group for the preservation, translation and distribution of Buddhist teachings, especially from the Longchen Nyingthik cycle. Many texts have been made accessible to those who cannot read Tibetan, giving all his students the possibility to study and gain understanding of these precious teachings.
Dzogchen Ranyak Patrul Rinpoche took on the overall responsibility for the Collected Writings of Patrul Rinpoche Jigme Chökyi Wangpo and provided all the favourable conditions to complete their publication. It was in 2015 that he accepted this exclusive responsibility with the guidance of his root teacher Kyabje Zenkar Rinpoche. After years of hard work, the result was the publication, in 2020, of the new Patrul Rinpoche’s Collection of Writings in nine volumes, particularly outstanding compared to former publications.
Wherever Patrul Rinpoche goes, he brings with him the Buddha’s teachings in mind and heart. With great compassion he shares what he himself has realised and repeatedly proclaimed his heartfelt wish for his students to study, contemplate and gain true understanding of the Dharma.
Not only did Patrul Rinpoche bring Dharma teachings to the West, but he also brought the rich Dharma traditions and practices of Tibetan Buddhism.
He holds drupchens (great accomplishment), an intense group practice of a specific sādhana performed repeatedly for several days. It is possible to attend these amazing events in the West, though in Asia they are most often reserved for monks. Here it is possible to learn and perform the ritual practices, such as playing instruments, chanting, and creating tormas and maṇḍalas. Through his compassionate guidance and incomparable knowledge, Patrul Rinpoche has formed many of his students to the arts of chöpön and umze, thus enabling them to fully immerse themselves in the practice of Tibetan Buddhism. This is a rare event in the West even by today’s standards and can only truly be made successful by an authentic teacher and true holder of the linage.
Patrul Rinpoche continues giving an in-depth teaching on The Words of My Perfect Teacher. Since 2020 the courses have been taking place online. He patiently and in great detail goes through the text explaining every paragraph, answering questions and giving transmissions. Tirelessly he has given hundreds of hours of teachings online so students all over the world have had the possibility to stay connected to him and the Dharma despite an ongoing pandemic. This made the study and practice of Dharma more relevant than ever during these difficult times.
Patrul Rinpoche’s activities and altruistic projects are numerous and each of them deserves a separate presentation. The wide scope and range of these activities truly reflect Patrul Rinpoche and his intention to bring loving compassion, understanding and knowledge into the hearts of all beings.