Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche
Rinpoche is the founder of the Pristine Mind Foundation was one of the first group of Khenpos trained by Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche. Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche released his first book, Our Pristine Mind: A Practical Guide to Unconditional Happiness in the spring of 2016 to very enthusiastic reviews from both long-time practitioners and people completely new to Buddhism – a rare pairing. In the foreword, he briefly describes his experience at Larung Gar:
"At the age of fourteen I received the rare opportunity to become a student of one of the greatest enlightened masters of the twentieth century, Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche. I left home and started my studies at Larung Gar, my teacher’s famous retreat center. The living conditions at Larung Gar at that time were harsh, with very cold winters, scanty food, and few comforts. For the first year I lived on my uncle’s porch, with only a curtain protecting me from the snow. After that, my parents built me a small house, where I stayed for the next eight years of my training. Even though the living conditions continued to be challenging, they never felt too difficult to bear. In fact, this was a time in my life when I experienced tremendous joy.
"During these nine years, my focus was on studying the canon of Buddhist literature, particularly the advanced teachings known in Tibet as Vajrayana and Dzogchen. But my studies were not just dry reading and test taking, as you might imagine. I found great inspiration and joy through singing “vajra songs”—poems that have arisen in the minds of enlightened masters out of their meditation experiences. These poems express extraordinary wisdom. After each day of class and study, I went back to my little house and sang many vajra songs, particularly those of the great masters Longchenpa (fourteenth century) and Mipham Rinpoche (nineteenth century).
"After many years of study, I was given the title Khenpo, the rough equivalent of a Ph.D. It indicates having a full understanding of the Buddhist literature and also means having achieved some degree of meditation experience, so that I was qualified to give teachings and guide others in their practice as well. Overall, the training I received during these years gave me the knowledge and practical tools I needed in order to lead a life of fulfillment and transformation, for both myself and others."