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The Revered Buddhist Scholar and Teacher Tulku Thondup Rinpoche Has Died

Tulku Thondup Rinpoche (1939–2023). From

One of the most revered and prolific Tibetan Buddhist teachers of modern times, Tulku Thondup Rinpoche, died in the early hours of 29 December. He was 84 years old.

A memorial published on the website of Shambhala Publications stated:

It is with the most profound sadness that we share that Tulku Thondup Rinpoche, one of the great lamas of our time, passed away on December 29th, 2023. This is also the anniversary of Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche with whom he had a profound connection.

We are bereft. Tulku Rinpoche was one of the last of great masters of his generation, and his deep wisdom, humility, humor, and ever-present kindness were a constant source of respite in world filled with so much suffering.

(Shambhala Publications)

Tulku Thondup Rinpoche was born in eastern Tibet in 1939. At the age of five, he was recognized as the reincarnation of the celebrated scholar of Dodrupchen Monastery, Lushul Khenpo Konchok Dronme. Rinpoche studied at the same monastery, becoming the monastery’s dorje lopon, or master overseeing tantric rituals, until he fled Tibet in 1958.

After living for 22 years in India, where he taught Tibetan and Tibetan literature at Lucknow University (1967–76) and Visva Bharati University (1976–80), Tulku Thondup traveled to the United States in 1980, becoming a visiting scholar at Harvard University. 

During this period, living in Cambridge Massachusetts, translating and researching key Tibetan Buddhist texts, in particular those related to the Nyingma school, and teaching throughout the world. Rinpoche also authored a wide range of books, among them: Buddhist Civilization in Tibet (Routeledge 1987); Masters of Meditation and Miracles. (Shambhala 1996); Hidden Teachings of Tibet: An Explanation of the Terma Tradition of the Nyingma School of Buddhism (Wisdom 1997); Peaceful Death, Joyful Rebirth (Shambhala  2005); and The Heart of Unconditional Love: A Powerful New Approach to Loving-Kindness Meditation (Shambhala, 2015).

“For many of us, he was the Buddha of Cambridge, a hidden but fully realized yogi, always stepping out of the spotlight and pointing to others, in particular his teacher Dodrubchen Rinpoche. He was very much a lama’s lama, and few passing through anywhere near New England would miss an opportunity to pay a visit and receive the wisdom of one of the great scholars and masters of our day,” Shambhala Publications shared. (Shambhala Publications)

Shambala’s statement also noted: “The Mahasiddha center in Massachusetts which Tulku Thondup was very close with wrote that Rinpoche’s faithful and perfect companion Lydia [Segal] said that Tulku did not want prayers for his rebirth. She said people should say whatever prayers with love and devotion, but especially can say prayers for rebirth in Dewachen.” (Shambhala Publications)

Loving-kindness is the thought of wishing total happiness for others and putting that wish into practice. It is the thought of unconditioned, pure, and universal love towards all beings without attachment, self-centeredness, or expectation of rewards. — Tulku Thondup Rinpoche

See more

Tulku Thondup
Remembering Tulku Thondup Rinpoche (1939-2023) (Shambhala Publications)

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