Dzogchen Rinpoche Jigme Losel Wangpo has been selected as the eighth head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. The Seventh Dzogchen Rinpoche was appointed to the position on 15 January by the heads of the principal monasteries of the Nyingma tradition, during the 30th Nyingma Monlam in Bodh Gaya, India.
Dzogchen Rinpoche will succeed His Holiness the Kathok Getse Rinpoche Gyurme Tenpa Gyaltsen after his sudden passing in November last year.*
The 54-year-old principal holder of the Dzogchen lineage has yet to accept the position as he was not present at the annual Nyingma prayer gathering in Bodh Gaya.
At last year’s prayer meeting, in January 2018, the late Kathok Getse Rinpoche was appointed as the head of the Nyingma tradition as part of a new system. During a meeting of representatives of the Nyingma school, it was unanimously decided that the leadership of the school would rotate among the six principal Nyingma lineage holders in of three-year terms. The six principal lineage holders represent the six main monasteries of the Nyingma tradition: Dorje Drak, Dzogchen, Kathok, Mindrolling, Palyul, and Shechen.
Under this system, Dzogchen Rinpoche, being the Dzogchen head, was second in line among the six Nyingma lamas for the role of supreme head of the Nyingma tradition, and will be the eighth Nyingma Head after the late Kathok Getse Rinpoche.
Kathok Getse Rinpoche held the position for less than a year. He passed away last November after an accident in Nepal. He was 64. According to reports, Kathok Getse Rinpoche slipped while leaving a retreat center near the village of Hattiban just outside Kathmandu, where he had been sitting in retreat. He eventually passed away from the injuries he sustained in the fall.
Dzogchen Rinpoche Jigme Losel Wangpo was born in Sikkim, in 1964. He was recognized at an early age as the Dzogchen lineage holder by the fourth Dodrupchen Rinpoche, Thupten Trinley Palzang, which was later confirmed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He was enthroned on 8 October 1972, at the age of eight, at Sikkim’s Royal Palace at Gangtok. The ceremony was officiated by Dodrupchen Rinpoche and other lamas.
Dzogchen Rinpoche trained extensively in both the Gelug and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism. In 1976, at the age of 12, Dzogchen Rinpoche left Sikkim for Dharamshala, where he became a student in the Buddhist School of Dialectics. His studies were personally supervised by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and after seven years at the Buddhist School of Dialectics, Dzogchen Rinpoche obtained the title Rabjampa (equivilent to a master’s degree in Tibetan Buddhism). He was 19 at the time.
In addition to receiving personal tutelage from the Dalai Lama, Dzogchen Rinpoche has studied under many a great master, including Dudjom Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and Trulshik Rinpoche, all of whom have held the position of head of Nyingma school.
The Nyingma school is the oldest of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism, the other schools being Gelug, Kagyu, and Sakya.
* His Holiness Kathok Getse Rinpoche, Seventh Head of the Nyingma School, Passes Away in Nepal (Buddhistdoor Global)
Dzogchen Rinpoche Jigme Losel Wangpo selected new head of Nyingma (Phayul.com)
Nyingma Tibetan Buddhists select Dzogchen Rinpoche as new head (Tibetan Review)
Dzogchen Rinpoche appointed as the 8th Nyingma head (The Tibet Express)
His Eminence the 7th Dzogchen Rinpoche, Jigme Losel Wangpo (Gyalwa Dzogchenpa)