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When Kalu Rinpoche was fifteen years old, he was sent to begin his higher studies at the great monastery of Palpung , the foremost center of the Karma Kagyu school. He remained there for more than a decade, during which time he mastered the vast body of teaching that forms the philosophical basis of Buddhist practice and completed two three-year retreats . Rinpoche's gurus included the foremost disciples of the supreme master of the Rime or Eclectic Movement, Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Thaye . Among them were the Fifteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Khakhyap Dorje ; Situ Pema Wangchuk Gyalpo, the abbot and foremost teacher of Palpung monastery; Zhechen Gyaltsab Byurme Namgyla , the great Nyingma master who was regarded as Mipham Rinpoche 's unequaled disciple; and the meditation master Drupon Norbu Dondrup , whose teaching had a profound impact on Rinpoche's life. At the same time, his Dharma brethren included the foremost masters of his generation: Kongtrul Khyentse Ozer , Zhechen Kongrtrul Rinpoche , Jamyang Khyentse Choki Lodro , Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, and many others.
At about the age of twenty five, Rinpoche left Palpung to pursue the life of a solitary yogi in the woods of the Khampa countryside. For nearly fifteen years, he strove to perfect his realization of all aspects to the teachings and he became renowned in the villages and among the nomads as a true representative of the Bodhisattva's path.
Kalu Rinpoche returned to Palpung to receive final teachings from Drupon Norbu Dondrup, who entrusted him with the rare transmission of the teaching of the Shangpa Kagyu. At the order of Situ Rinpoche, he was appointed Vajra Master of the Great Meditation hall of Palpung Monastery, where for many years he continually gave empowerments and teachings.
During the 1940's, Rinpoche visited central Tibet with the party of Situ Rinpoche, and there he taught extensively. His disciples included the Reting Rinpoche, regent of all Tibet during the infancy of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.
Returning to Kham, Rinpoche became the abbot of the meditation center associated with Palpung and the meditation teacher of His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. He remained in that position until the Chinese invasion of Tibet forced him into exile in India.
Kalu Rinpoche has taught extensively in America and Europe, and during his three visits to the West he had founded teaching centers in over a dozen countries. In France, he has established the first retreat center ever to teach the traditional three-year retreats of the Shangpa and Karma Kagyu lineages to Western students.
At 3:00 P. M., Wednesday, May 10, 1989, Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche, passed away.
Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche officially recognized Kalu Rinpoche’s yangsi (young reincarnation) on March 25, 1992, explaining that he had received definite signs from Kalu Rinpoche himself. Situ Rinpoche sent a letter of recognition with Lama Gyaltsen to His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, who immediately confirmed the recognition.
On February 28, 1993, Kalu Rinpoche Yangsi was enthroned at Samdrup Tarjayling . Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche and Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche presided over the ceremony, assisted by Kalu Rinpoche’s heart-son, Bokar Rinpoche . Situ Rinpoche performed the hair-cutting ceremony and bestowed on the young tulku the name Karma Ngedön Tenpay Gyaltsen—Victory Banner of the Teachings of the True Meaning.
Publications by Kalu Rinpoche
Profound Buddhism: From Hinayana to Vajrayana, Clearpoint Press, 1995, ISBN: 0963037153
Excellent Buddhism: An Exemplary Life, Clearpoint Press, 1995, ISBN: 0963037145
The Dharma: That Illuminates All Beings Like the Light of the Sun and the Moon, State University of New York Press, 1986, ISBN: 0887061575
Foundations of Tibetan Buddhism, Snow Lion Publications, 2004, ISBN: 1559392126
Luminous Mind : Fundamentals of Spiritual Practice, Wisdom Publications, 1996, ISBN: 0861711181
Gently Whispered: Oral Teachings by the Very Venerable Kalu Rinpoche, Station Hill Press, 1995, ISBN: 0882681532
Monasteries and Centers Founded By Kalu Rinpoche
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