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Parinirvana of the Esteemed Nyingma Lama Dhomang Gyatrul Rinpoche Announced

Dhomang Gyatrul Rinpoche. From

The Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies in Ashland, Oregon, has announced that Venerable Dhomang Gyatrul Rinpoche, one of the last great Nyingma masters of his generation died on 8 April. He was 98 years old.

“It is with heavy hearts that we inform the greater sangha community, and especially all close heart disciples, that our beloved precious master, the Venerable Dhomang Gyatrul Rinpoche, passed into paranirvana on 8 April 2023 at 2:30 am at his home in Half Moon Bay, California,” the Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies stated in a public announcement. “Rinpoche was surrounded by his family members, close attendants, and personal physician. One week prior to Rinpoche’s passing, he ceased taking nourishment of food and drink; during this time, he rested and slept peacefully. Rinpoche is presently resting in tukdam meditation. Thus, Rinpoche has displayed his final teaching indicating the importance of the crucial passage from life to death.”

Gyatrul Rinpoche was born in 1924 in modern-day Sichuan Province, China. He was recognized as a tulku at the age of seven by Jamyang Khyentse Chokyi Lodro and Tulku Natsok Rangrol, and trained at Payul Dhomang Monastery in eastern Tibet.

Gyatrul Rinpoche spent many years in solitary retreat before fleeing to India in 1959, where he lived for 12 years. Gyatrul Rinpoche then moved to the United States, where he was appointed as the spiritual representative of His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche.

Image courtesy of the Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies
Image courtesy of the Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies

Rinpoche was instrumental in establishing many Nyingma centers throughout the US, including Tashi Choling in Oregon, Orgyen Dorje Den in the San Francisco Bay Area, Norbu Ling in Texas, Namdroling in Montana, and a center in Ensenada, Mexico.

A prolific author, Gyatrul Rinpoche also shared a wealth of profound Vajrayana teachings in written form. His books include: Meditation, Transformation, and Dream Yoga (Shambhala Publications 2002); Generating the Deity (Snow Lion Publications 1992); and a commentary on Natural Liberation: Padmasambhava’s Teachings on the Six Bardos (Wisdom Publications 1998).

“We are all very aware of the exceptional life that Rinpoche lived and how Rinpoche dedicated himself to the propagation of [the] Buddhadharma, especially as a pioneer in the West in the 1970s until the present time,” the Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies observed. “We are eternally grateful for Rinpoche’s example, kindness, vajra presence, teachings, and wisdom blessings that have been a part of our lives for so many years.”

Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. From

In a public message shared with BDG, Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, the founder and spiritual head of the Mangala Shri Bhuti organization in Boulder, Colorado, and a tulku in the Longchen Nyingtik and Khen-Kong-Chok-Sum lineages of the Nyingma tradition, offered the following memorial on the parinirvana of Gyatrul Rinpoche:

Today a great master of the Dzogpa Chenpo Lineage passed into parinirvana. I want to take this opportunity to say how much Gyatrul Rinpoche has personally inspired me. I have known Gyatrul Rinpoche since my early twenties. He was a lama with such ease and a great sense of humor, always pulling people’s legs. In this, there were countless small teachings to reflect upon and come out with a great gift of diamonds, if one was willing. When I first moved to America with a young child, due to Elizabeth’s parents’ relationship with Gyatrul Rinpoche as their root teacher, he warmly embraced me with great kindness. From that time onward, he has been an immense inspiration.

He was always very low key and humble, never projecting an air of someone who possessed the great wisdom and knowledge that he did. He gave his life to the service of Dharma in the West 110%. With utmost devotion he served many great masters such as the 16th Karmapa, Dudjom Rinpoche, Penor Rinpoche, Yangtang Rinpoche, and Khenpo Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche. With tremendous love for his Western students, he requested these great masters to turn the Wheel of Dharma, which they did.

Meanwhile, he himself taught Dharma to many students such as Sangye Khandro and Allan B. Wallace, who are, themselves, now greatly accomplished, prominent teachers. He also built temples like Tashi Choling and Orgyen Dorje Den, filling them with relics, treasures of Dharma, and volumes of precious texts. With anything and everything, Gyatrul Rinpoche engaged with great devotion and love of Dharma for the benefit of beings.

There are many teachers in my life who I have known to possess great wisdom and knowledge. One who could read others’ minds without obstruction, however, as transparently as looking at the palm of one’s hand — there are very few. Gyatrul Rinpoche was one of them. Some years ago, I went to see him at Half Moon Bay in order to discuss something that was on my mind and receive his advice. Before I could open my mouth and relay what I wanted to speak with him about, he already knew, and gave me an answer that was completely appropriate, helpful, and to the point.

He was in this world for almost a century, living into his late nineties according to the Tibetan calendar. In all his activities Gyatrul Rinpoche was exemplarily in carrying out the benefit of beings. Even in his passing he wanted his remains to be a gift of generosity to beings. This sums up who he was — not wasting a single drop of blood or an ounce of flesh in benefiting beings.

It was a great honor and privilege to be present during his last breaths in this world, and witness his parinirvana. I pray that his reincarnation blossom auspiciously and appropriately in the lake of devotion of the students of this lineage.

I want to thank Mimi and his care team for all the love and care that they provided with great tenderness and devotion. I speak for myself and many other teachers in the gratitude felt for such service.

Thank you very much,
Kongtrul Rinpoche

On 8 April, the Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies conducted a special Kunzang Nyima Vajrasattva practice in honor of Gyatrul Rinpoche, a recording of which can currently be accessed here. A traditional 49-day ceremony will be held at at Tashi Choling as well as in monasteries in Asia. Details of the planned activities and practices at Tashi Choling and Orgyen Dorje Den in honor of Gyatrul Rinpoche can be found here.

In his introduction to the 1999 translation of Jamgon Kongtrul’s landmark text The Teacher-Student Relationship, Gyatrul Rinpoche wrote:

All teachers must eventually leave this world, just as did the Buddha himself. Yet, the lineage that we still receive, the legacy of their enlightened awareness, is passed on from generation to generation through the teachings that remain. Since that is inevitable, what we have to call a lineage in their physical absence is the blessing of their unbroken lineage of teachings. This is what we, in turn, are expected to pass on to our and future generations. If we were to depend solely upon the physical presence of the teacher, then the lineages would have been lost long ago. The Buddha said, “I shall reveal the path that leads to liberation. You must practice the path in order to reach liberation.”


Jamgon Kongtrul the Great. The Teacher-Student Relationship. Translated by Ron Garry, 1999. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications

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Tashi Choling Center for Buddhist Studies
Mangala Shri Bhuti

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