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He was born in 1939, near Riwoche in Kham, Eastern Tibet. At the age of six he was discovered by the search party seeking the reincarnation the previous (1st) Akong, Abbot of Dolma Lhakang monastery in the Chamdo area of Kham. The search party was following instructions given by 16th Karmapa
At four he was taken to Dolma Lhakang to receive an education that included religion and traditional Tibetan medicine. When only a teenager, he travelled performing religious ceremonies and treating the ill. Later he went to the great monastic university of Secchen , where he received transmission of the Kagyu lineage from Secchen Kongtrul Rinpoche . He also received instruction from the 16th Karmapa, who also certified him as a teacher of Tibetan medicine.
In 1959, with the invasion of Tibet by China he fled to India. The journey was difficult and dangerous and of the 300 in his party only 13 arrived safely in India. They were so hungry at one point that they boiled leather shoes and bags to make soup.
After spending time in refugee camps he was asked to teach at a school for young tulkus in Dalhousie, NW India. Then in 1963 a sponsor paid for Akong and Trungpa Tulku to go to Oxford to learn English. As only Trungpa had a bursary Akong Rinpoche worked as a hospital orderly in the Radcliffe Infirmary, supporting himself as well as Trungpa Rinpoche and Tulku Chime who had joined them.
He worked diligently to introduce 'western' people to Tibetan religion and some of its culture, as an effort to counter the destruction in his native Tibet. He founded the Kagyu Samye Ling Monastery and Tibetian centre in Scotland, and ROKPA, a charity working to alleviate poverty in Tibet, Nepal and South Africa.
In 1994, Akong Rinpoche was one of the main people to discover the reincarnation of the 16th Karmapa Urgyen Drodul Trinley Dorje, and took him to two of the regents, Tai Situpa and Goshir Gyatsabpa responsible for locating the reincarnation. A rival candidate for the 17th Karmapa is supported by the Shamarpa, see Karmapa controversy.
Akong Rinpoche wrote a book 'Taming the Tiger:Tibetan Teachings for Improving Daily Life'. In his words
- At present the mind can be compared to a wild tiger, rampaging through our daily lives. Thus the mind becomes wild and uncontrollable and our freedom is effectively destroyed. Normally we are so blind that we are unaware of how wild our minds really are. When things go wrong we tend to blame other people and circumstances, rather than look inside ourselves for the causes of the suffering. But if we are ever to find true peace or happiness it is that wildness within which must be faced and dealt with
Akong Rinpoche's younger brother Lama Yeshe Losal, has now taken over some of his duties as abbot of Samye Ling.
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