His Excellency Drikung Lho Ontul Rinpoche, a highly respected senior lama in the Drikung Kagyu lineage of the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism, died in the early hours of Sunday morning in northern India. He was 72 years old.
Born in 1950, in the traditional region of Kham in eastern Tibet, Driking Ontul Rinpoche was recognized at a young age by His Holiness the 16th Karmapa and His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche as the third incarnation of Ontul Rinpoche—the first Ontul Rinpoche was the elder brother of the terton Orgyen Nuden Dorje, and was recognized as an emanation of Drog Ban Khiu Chung Lotsawa, one of the 25 main disciples of Guru Padmasambhava.
Ontul Rinpoche left Tibet at the age of nine, reaching Nepal in 1960 and then India in 1962, where he studied under numerous teachers, among them His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Khenpo Thubten, Dudjom Rinpoche, Khunu Lama Tenzin Gyaltsen, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and Kalu Rinpoche. While in the remote northern region of Ladakh, Ontul Rinpoche spent several years receiving teachings and empowerments of the Drikung Kagyu lineage from Choje Togden Rinpoche.
In 1971, Rinpoche founded the monastery Wogmin Thubten Shedrub Ling, which was completed in 1975, beside the sacred lake Tso Pema in Himachal Pradesh, where he resided with his family, including his son, Karma Ratna Rinpoche.
Ontul Rinpoche traveled widely for many years, teaching the Dharma in North America, Europe, and Asia, and was instrumental in bringing the Yangzab Dzogchen lineage and Orgyen Nuden Dorje treasures of the Drikung Kagyu to the West.
An announcement shared by Lama Chokyi Gyaltsen (Lama Mark Webber) of the Namgyal Yangzab Buddhist Community of Canada stated:
This morning a great, wondrous being, our beloved Lama Lho Ontul Rinpoche passed away into the clear light of mind for all.
Lho Ratna Rinpoche has let us know that Rinpoche is presently in Thukdam, abiding in a deep meditative quality with auspicious signs. All his family is with him. Our deep condolences.
For those with a connection to Ontul Rinpoche, now is an important time to meditate and allow our minds to merge with our Lama’s mind. Let’s all take time to meditate together in his energy of luminous awakeness.
This most amazing being has brought so many gifts, both temporal and absolute, such great love to so many of us. No words can express my deep sorrow for his passing on and simultaneously great joy as we experience this extraordinary release into the light of awakeness. He will always be in our hearts, leading us on to liberation.
I am sure that soon Ratna Rinpoche and Lho Bongtrul Rinpoche at Lho Lungkar monastery will make an official announcement and that all matters will be auspiciously and beatifically directed by these wise teachers.
With deep love and an ocean of gratitude for Rinpoche’s love for us all.