H. H. the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche Tours U.S. and Canada

The following article is from the Spring, 1987 issue of the Snow Lion Newsletter and is for historical reference only. You can see this in context of the original newsletter here.

On December 20th, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, the 37th head of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism arrived in Washington, D.C. to begin a fivemonth tour of the United States and Canada. The Drikung Kagyu School, one of the twelve lineages of the Kagyu Order, was founded in the 12th century by Lord Jigten Sumgon, the Dharma-heir of Phagmo Drubpa (considered by many to be the foremost of Gampopa's successors) and flourished for many centuries in Tibet, China and elsewhere before almost disappearing under the pressure of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The lineage has been enjoying a renaissance since His Holiness'escape from Tibet in 1975 and has now begun to spread its teachings to the West.

On the 24th of December His Holiness and entourage left for Toronto at the request of the Tibetan community and Canadian Buddhists there. During his stay in Toronto, he gave teachings and empowerments to many people. The main public event in Toronto drew a crowd of 2000 people during which time His Holiness spoke on the famous Drikung Phowa (conciousness transference). This practice involves mixing of breath and consciousness at the instant of death and the projection of the principle of consciousness through the fontanel at the top on the head, with the possibility of attaining enlightenment quickly and surely at the time of death.

Konchog Tenzin Kunsang Trinley Lhundrup, the 37th Drikung Kyabgon, was born on June 4, 1947 in Lhasa to the wellknown Tibetan family of Tsarong. In 1950 he was recognized as the incarnation of the previous Drikung Kyabgon. He received his religious vows from H. H. the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of five in the Drikung Monastery, the seat of the Drikung Kagyu order.

In 1959, the Chinese Communists forced him to leave the monastery and live in Lhasa with one of his former tutors. From 1960 to 1969 he was a student in Chinese schools and then worked in communes in central Tibet. In 1975 His Holiness escaped to India. A large number of his followers gathered at Dharamsala, to celebrate his miraculous escape. That same year, he visited the U.S. where his parents were then living.

Upon his return to India in 1976, he resumed his formal religious training in order to rekindle the embers of the Drikung Kagyu lineage in more than 100 monasteries outside of Tibet, such as Lamayuru Monastery and Phiyang Monastery in Ladakh, India.

In 1979, the 800th anniversary of the founding of the Drikung Kagyu lineage was observed. The Drikung lineage embodies the teachings of all three levels of Buddhism but is especially known for those of the Phowa, Mahamudra, and the Six Yogas of Naropa. Garland of Mahamudra Practices has been recently published by Snow Lion. It contains a preface by His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche and is highly recommended by him as a useful text for the study and practice of the profound five-fold path of Mahamudra.

After celebrating the Tibetan New Year on the 28th of February, 1987 at the Washington Tibetan Meditation Center, His Holiness and entourage left for Ta{mpa, Chicago, Denver, Phoenix, Santa Fe, L.A, Seattle, and San Francisco, and finally around the end of April will leave for Hawaii and the Far East before returning to India.

For more information contact: Tibetan Mediation Center, Drikung Kagyu Lineage, 5603, 16th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20011, 202-829-0005.

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