Khandro Tsering Chodron

Khandro Tsering Chödrön, from The Life and Times of Jamyang Chokyi Lodro

One of the most remarkable Buddhist women of the 20th century surely was Khandro Tsering Chödrön. Born in 1925, she became the spiritual consort of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, one of the most important teachers of the 20th century. As Tulku Thondup, who as a student of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö spent much time with her, relates in Masters of Meditation and Miracles, "According to his own prophecies and those of Khyentse Wangpo and Kongtrtul Yonten Gyatso, this union was for dispelling the obstructions of his life and for promoting his enlightened activities."

While it is often the case that the wife (though she always referred to herself as Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro's student, never wife) of a highly revered lama is less visible, her long life and influence on so many gave her universal respect and appreciation. There are so many lamas from all traditions who revere her so much: His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness Sakya Trizin, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, Orgyen Tobgyal Rinpoche, Rabjam Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Yangsi Rinpoche, Tenga Rinpoche, Dzigar Kingtrul Rinpoche,Tsoknyi Rinpoche, Mingyur Rinpoche, Alak Zenkar Rinpoche, Jigme Khyentse Rinpoche, and so many more.  For many westerners, she first came to prominence through the stories about her in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

Masters of Meditation and Miracles

$34.95 - Paperback

By: Tulku Thondup

A full chapter is dedicated to her in Dakini Power: Twelve Extraordinary Women Shaping the Transmission of Tibetan Buddhism in the West. The author, Michaela Haas recounts:

I watched renowned masters hastily jump off their high thrones when they realized that Khandro was about to walk in. It is Asian custom to denote one’s rank by the seating order and the height of the throne. None of the teachers, no matter how big their title and how elevated their rank, would want to be seated higher than Khandro. Yet Khandro never spoke about her realization. Regardless of how fervently students and other teachers requested her to teach, nobody ever heard her boast of her wisdom.

Dakini Power

$22.95 - Paperback

By: Michaela Haas

Given that Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö was the teacher of many of the greatest lamas of the 20th century including Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, it is no surprise to find Khandro Tsering Chödrön throughout Brilliant Moon: The Autobiography of Dilgo Khyentse.

Khandro Tsering Chödrön also asked Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche to write the biography of Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö which was titles A Wondrous Grove of Wish-Fulfilling Trees and forms the second half of The Life and Times of Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro. She appears throughout this work.

Once everything had been completed, on the next dakini’s day, Surmang Trungpa, Dilgo Khyentse, Khamtrul Dongyü Nyima, and Khenpo Gangshar offered a ganachakra feast (the Gathering of Vidyadharas). At the appropriate point in the tsok, Khandro Tsering Chödrön sang a Tsok Lu [a song of offering the feast to the enlightened guests] so beautifully that the lamas and monks of Khampa Gar Monastery dissolved into tears. They said that when she sang, they thought they were in Zangdokpalri (the Copper-Colored Mountain where Guru Rinpoche now dwells).

In the Reflections section of The Life and Visions of Yeshe Tsogyal - a remarkable work on one of the archetypes tantric women, the translator Ngawang Zangpo shares this:

The female buddha I’ve been closest to, Khandro Tsering Chödrön, was born in the same tiny village as Kalu Rinpoche. Over some years, I visited her in the single, small room she inhabited alone in Sikkim. She would talk, sing mantras, and show me photo albums of herself in different kinds of dress, including Indian saris and Western pants. She found in anything a reason to laugh. “Everyone calls me khandro” (literally, “one who moves through the sky”), she complained. “What am I, some sort of bird?” she would say, with yet another infectious giggle. When the Dalai Lama gave the Kalachakra empowerment to thousands in Sikkim, he had her sit on the stage with him. When she passed away, her body demonstrated miraculous signs that might seem like unverifiable tales from an inaccessible land, except that they occurred in 2011 near Montpelier, France. That is where Chönyi Drolma and I last visited her, a short time before her death. Khandro Tsering Chödrön’s picture will sit facing me on my desk along with that of Kalu Rinpoche until I die. You can use vacation time to visit a living buddha, including a female saint.

Lotsawa House has published a translation of A Beautiful String of Jewels, heart advice from Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö to Khandro Tsering Chödrön

Lotsawa House

Here is a wonderful video profiling her: