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Biography of Pema Norbu Rinpoche

March 29, 2009

Source: Wikipedia

Kyabjé Drubwang Pema Norbu Rinpoche:  (1932-2009)
was the 11th throne holder of the Palyul Lineage
of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism, and
said to be an incarnation of Vimalamitra. He was
widely renowned in the Tibetan Buddhist world as
a master of Dzogchen. He was one of a very few
teachers left from his generation who received
all his training (in the traditional sense) in
Tibet under the guidance of what Tibetan
Buddhists consider to be fully enlightened teachers.

Life in Tibet
HH Penor Rinpoche was born in 1932 in the Powo
region of Kham, East Tibet. He was recognized in
1936 by Khenpo Ngaga Rinpoche. Pema Norbu was
formally enthroned by his root teacher, Thubten
Chökyi Dawa (1894-1959) the second Choktrul
Rinpoche, and Karma Thekchok Nyingpo (1908-1958)
the fourth Karma Kuchen Rinpoche. He trained at
the Palyul Monastery in Tibet, studying and
receiving teachings from numerous masters and
scholars, including the previous Karma Kuchen,
the tenth throneholder. (Note: the "new body" of
Karma Kuchen currently lives in Tibet).

Establishment in India
In 1959, recognizing the situation in Eastern
Tibet to be very tense, HH Penor Rinpoche left
with a party of 300 for the Hidden Kingdom of
Pema Köd in North Eastern India. Only 30 of the
original party survived. In 1961 they were
resettled in South India in Bylakuppe in a series
of Tibetan camps. HH Penor Rinpoche initially
built a bamboo temple to train a small handful of monks in 1963.

Life in India

In the 1970s HH Penor Rinpoche began to train
Khenpos in the Nam Cho cycle. By the 1980s
Namdroling Monastery had many hundreds of monks.
Rinpoche passed away peacefully on Friday, 27
March 2009, at aprox. 9.30pm Indian Time, after a long illness.

Teachings in Western Countries
He made his first visit to the United States in
1985, invited by Gyaltrul Rinpoche to Ashland
Oregan to confer the Nam Cho cycle of teachings.
In 1987 he recognized a new age chaneller who ran
the Center for Discovery and New Life, Catharine
Burroughs, as the incarnation of Genyenma Ahkön
Lhamo[1]. The historical Genyenma Ahkön Lhamo was
the sister of the founder of Palyul, Kunzang
Sherab. In September, 1989, he sent Bhaka Tulku
to train her in Tibetan Buddhism. Bhaka Tulku
left in February the following year after five short months.

In 1988 he gave the Kama teachings at Gyaltrul
Rinpoche's Yeshe Nyingpo center in Ashland,
Oregon, followed immediately thereafter by the
Long Chen Nying Thig at Ven. Peling Tulku
Rinpoche's centre in Canada, Orgyan Osal Cho
Dzong. After this His Holiness gave the Rinchen
Terzod empowerments at Kunzang Palyul Choling.
Towards the end of this cycle of empowerments he
ordained 25 western monks and nuns.

In 1995 he was invited by John Giorno to give
teachings and empowerments for a week in New York
City. His Holiness then travelled to Kunzang
Palyul Choling to give the Nam Cho cycle. After
this trip, he sent Khenpo Tsewang Gyatso, who had
previously taught in the U.S. in 1992, to
establish centers in New York and other regions.

Then in 1998 he established the Palyul Retreat
Center in Upstate New York, near Greene, offering
a one-month retreat course that follows a similar
if abbreviated curriculum to the one at
Namdroling monastery. He has offered Kalachakra
empowerments, first in Rochester in 1996 and next
at his retreat center in 2007. He also granted
the Nam Cho cycle of teachings in Austin, Texas, in 2003.

Head of the Nyingmapa
In 1992 HH Penor Rinpoche was elected the Supreme
Head of the Nyingmapa, the oldest of the schools
of Tibetan Buddhism. He served in this post until
2003 at which point he retired from his duties
and was succeeded by the late His Holiness
Mindrolling Trichen Rinpoche. (As of February 21,
2008, a new head of Nyingmapa has not been elected.)

The position, a ceremonial and administrative
role created in the wake of the Tibetan diaspora,
is conferred upon those lamas held in the highest
esteem by a consensus of Nyingma lamas,
Rinpoches, tulkus, and khenpos. Penor Rinpoche
himself succeeded H. H. Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche.

Current activities

Activities for Monlam Chenmo
Each year a prayer festival called "Monlam
Chenmo" is held in Bodh Gaya, the place of the
Buddha's Enlightenment. Recognizing its
importance, HH Penor Rinpoche has headed a
committee of monks, tulkus and khenpos who organize the yearly prayer ceremony.

Activities at the South Indian Monastery
His Holiness has been responsible for an
ever-expanding population of Himalayan monks and
nuns who come to Namdroling Monastery based on
the traditional cultural style of sending a son
or daughter to the monastery for an education.
Many of the young monks and nuns come from
extremely impoverished families located in
Bhutan, Nepal or the Tibetan refugee camps in
India. The monastery provides full room, board,
clothing, medical care and an education in the
traditional Tibetan Buddhist canon. The
population of students exceeds several thousand.

Activities in South Indian Local Community
His Holiness sponsored the pavement of the road
leading from Bylakuppe to Kushalnagar. He also
built a small hospital that still requires
equipment, but has provided infirmary services to
the local community. A side benefit of his
activities is that the temples he has built
brings busloads of Indian tourists to the area
daily, increasing the income and economic activity in the area.

Worldwide activities
His Holiness' main U.S. representative is
Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche, who maintains a
yearly travel schedule that includes Canada,
Singapore as well as Arizona, California,
Florida, Montana, New York, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Washington DC.

Centers for practice are located internationally,
including India, Taiwan, Hong Kong and America.

Palyul lineage
The Palyul lineage was founded in 1665 by Kunzang
Sherab (1636-1699). It is based out of Palyul
monastery, one of the six "mother" monasteries of
the Nyingma lineage. The primary teachings
followed by Palyul Monasteries were revealed by
Terton Migyur Dorje, a "Dharma Treasure Revealer"
who received teachings mystically. The works of
Migyur Dorje have been passed down from teacher
to disciple as the Nam Chö or "space treasure"
cycle of teachings. It is these teachings that HH
Penor Rinpoche follows and transmits to his
students along with some texts from the Longchen Nyingthik cycle.

Palyul Monastery: has been rebuilt in Tibet since
the cultural revolution. The temple was
re-inaugurated in 2006 by HH Penor Rinpoche's
schoolmate, Tulku Thubsang Rinpoche.

Namdroling Monastery: His Holiness' main
monastery and current "seat" is the Namdroling
Monastery, located South India, home also to the
Ngagyar Nyingma Institute, where hundreds of
lamas study and graduate from a ten-year shedra
program which includes a three-year retreat.
Three senior khenpos (professors of Buddhist
philosophy), Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche,
Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche, and Khenchen Tsewang
Gyatso Rinpoche oversee the education of the
thousands of monks and nuns enrolled in study at shedra (Buddhist college).

Palyul Monasteries in North India: A Palyul
monastery was reestablished in exile in Bir,
India, by HH Penor Rinpoche's close friend,
Dzonang Rinpoche. It is currently headed by Abbot Rigo Tulku Rinpoche.

Other Palyul Monasteries
There are many small branch monasteries
throughout Tibet and centers in Canada, England,
Germany, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Singapore,
Philippines, and the United States that have been
founded under HH Penor Rinpoche's guidance.

Prominent students

Penor Rinpoche's three main students (heart sons)
are Karma Kuchen Rinpoche, Khentul Gyangkhang
Rinpoche and Mugsang Kuchen Rinpoche. Other
prominent students include Ajam Rinpoche, Chonjur
Tulku Rinpoche, Dakmar Rinpoche, Jetsunma Ahkon
Lhamo, Jigme Lodro Rinpoche, Ogyen Tulku
Rinpoche, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche and many others.

The three most senior Khenpos from Namdroling
Monastery are Khenchen Pema Sherab Rinpoche,
Khenchen Tsewang Gyatso Rinpoche, and Khenchen Namdrol Rinpoche.

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