Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche – President and Spiritual Director of E-Vam Institute in Melbourne, Maitrepa Centre in Healesville Victoria and Nyima Centre in Sydney, Australia; Nyima Tashi Buddhist Centre in Auckland , New Zealand; E-Vam Buddhist Institute in New York, USA; and Vajrapani Connection online based in the UK.
Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche IX (1955 to 2012) was born in 1955 in Nangchen, Eastern Tibet. He was enthroned as the Supreme Abbott of Thrangu Monastery in Kham Tibet at age two by His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa, head of the Karma Kagyu tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Rinpoche had to flee his native land at the age of four and escaped with his party to Bhutan and from there to Rumtek Monastery, the headquarters of His Holiness the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa in Sikkim.
Traleg Rinpoche IX was educated by His Holiness with the other young tulkus in exile until he was nine, when he went to a centre near Darjeeling, studied under the guidance of His Eminence Thugsey Rinpoche and was taught exclusively by Khenpo Noryang and Khenpo Sodar for many years. In order for Rinpoche to receive training in Karma Kagyu tantric ritual practice, His Holiness Karmapa sent lama Ganga from Buxaduwar to train him. Thus, Rinpoche received both Drukpa Kagyu and Karma Kagyu training at Thugsey Rinpoche’s monastery.
Lama Ganga, originally from Thrangu monastery in Kham Tibet , went on to lead three-year retreats at Samye Ling, Scotland. He was eventually appointed spiritual director of the KTC Kagyu centre, San Diego, USA. At sixteen, His Holiness Karmapa sent Traleg Rinpoche to study at the Sanskrit University of Varanasi, India where he had the opportunity to study with many Khenpos and Geshes of all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism until he was nineteen.
He was subsequently put in charge of the Zangdog Palre Monastery (the glorious copper coloured mountain) in East Bhutan with many of the old monks from his own Thrangu Monastery, including Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, Woodstock.
After Khenpo Karthar’s departure, Rinpoche was placed under the private tutelage of Dregung Khenpo Ngedon by His Holiness Karmapa in order to continue his study of Sutra and Tantra. When Rinpoche was twenty-two, he returned to Rumtek to be with His Holiness Karmapa. Rinpoche took the honoured position as His Holiness Karmapa’s English translator while at Rumtek.
In 1980, at twenty-five years of age, Rinpoche arrived in Australia and established Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute now know simply as E-Vam Institute. Rinpoche also held the position as Spiritual Head of Kamalashila Institute, one of the main Kagyu centres in Europe, for five years. Rinpoche subsequently went onto establish Centre’s throughout the West. His love for his homeland Tibet never waivered and his appreciation for his education and upbringing in Sikkim, Bhutan and India was immense.
Traleg Rinpoche was recognized as the ninth incarnation of the Traleg line by His Holiness the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa and was accorded the title Kyabgon, a significant distinction retained by only a few lineage holders of the Tibetan tradition. The first Traleg tulku, named Nyima Tashi, was recognised by the VII Karmapa.
He went on to assume his role as the supreme abbot of Thrangu Monastery.
The names of the nine Traleg tulkus are as follows:
- Nyima Tashi
- Nyima Gyurme
- Nyima Salje
- Chogyal Nyima
- Trinley Nyima
- Yeshe Nyima
- Kunchab Nyima
- Shedrub Chokyi Nyima
- Tenpa Rabgye Trinley Nyima.
The Traleg line is one of the most important Kagyu Tulku lineages in Tibet. It is traced back to the time of Saltong Shogam, one of the Three Men of Kham who were among the five closest students to Gampopa and the only students to receive the complete transmission of both Vajrayana and Mahamudra instructions from him.
Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche IX gave an extraodinary number of remarkably insightful, profound and practical teachings worldwide on Buddhism and related topics. He became well known for his erudition, fluency in English and background in western psychology and comparative religion. He was especially respected for his skill in working with people of diverse interests, ages and backgrounds.
Rinpoche had both a strict traditional Buddhist education and a comprehensive Western education, holding a degree from La Trobe University, Melbourne Australia.
Rinpoche inaugurated the annual Buddhist Summer School in 1984 and later the biannual Buddhism and Psychotherapy Conference at both E-Vam Institute in Melbourne and for a number of years at Karmalashila Institute in Germany. Both of these programs have developed into major national events in Australia and have hosted many well-known spiritual teachers, Western psychologists and academics. His first book The Essence of Buddhism is in its forth printing and has been translated into a number of other languages.
His second book Luminous Bliss: Self-realisation through meditation. A more extensive edition of this is published by Shambhala Publications as Mind at Ease: Self-liberation through Mahamudra Meditation. A third book on Lojong, by Shambhala Publications and Benevolent Mind: A Manual in Mind Training by Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Publications in New Zealand. A series of books including The Four Dharmas of Gampopa and The Influence of Yogachara on Tantra by KTD Publications Woodstock, New York. Forthcoming book include the Theory of Karma by Shambhala Publications, and there anre more titles to come via Shogam Publications, Melbourne Australia and through KTD Publications.
Note: A short history of both Thrangu Monastery and Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche can be found in an official book released by the Chinese Government, The Tibetan Monasteries of Gansu and Qinghai Provinces (Gan-Qing Zangchuan fojiao siyuan), Pu Wencheng (ed.), Qinghai Peoples’ Publishing House, Xining, 1990, pp. 304-5.
The next Traleg Tulku, Traleg Yangsi Rinpoche the Tenth was found in Tibet in July 2016 at the age of 2 years and 6 months. He now resides at Thrangu Monastery in Tibet where he will undergo the traditional education and training of a high Tulku in the Karma Kagyu tradition. Rinpoche will resume his position as Abbot of Thrangu Monastery in Tibet and as the President and Spiritual Director of his network of Centre’s throughout the Western world once he is older.
We pray for Traleg Yangsi Rinpoche the Tenths long, joyous and prosperous life.