Kyabje Zenkar Rinpoche Thubten Nyima

Kyabje Zenkar Rinpoche Thubten Nyima, disciple of the great siddha the sixth [Dzogchen Rinpoche] Jigdral Shangchub Dorje and of the great scholar Pema Tsewang among others, took rebirth in the Gregorian year 1943, the water–sheep year of the sixteenth Rabjung, in the vicinity of Lhagong in the district of Minyak of Eastern Tibet (Do Kham), as the son of his father Nyima Öser and his mother Rinchen Lhamo from Gagpa in the district of Gyalrong.

From a young age, he displayed particularly superior discerning faculties compared to most children; he was filled with a compassionate mindstream, was spontaneously familiar with the conduct of bodhisattvas, and possessed signs of attainment of the clear perceptions.

In the past, Do Khyentse Chewu Yeshe Dorje, the first of his successive embodiments, was about to give a stone casket to a lama of the Lhagong monastery, telling him that it was a very important object of worship. That lama then asked how such a stone could ever be important. [This question] being somewhat inauspicious, he [instead] hid it as a terma inside a mani wall in the vicinity of the Lhagong monastery, and said that his third embodiment would come in the future to discover it. Later, this very precious, supreme emanation, being over three years old, used to always play around that heap of stones. One day, he brought a stone casket back from within the stone heap. At his insistence, his father broke it, releasing a garuda statue. This [event] resounded like the wind to all the local people.

Shortly after, the great siddhas of both the Mahā Chilung and Lhagong monasteries, holders of the Dharma lineage of Dzogchen monastery, recognised him as the rebirth of Alak Zenkar Rinpoche, the manifestation of Do Khyentse. Selecting at random a tutor from thirteen great scholars and students of Gyakong Zhenga Rinpoche, among which Gangkar Tulku, [the role of tutor] fell on Lama Orgyen Rangdröl.

He learned reading at the age of five, relying on his tutor— this great spiritual friend that remained exclusively in retreat for his whole life, according to his heart-samaya.

When reaching the age of seven, he was praised by all for having completed his reading and writing without any hesitation, and for his knowledge and efforts.

He then arrived at Dzogchen Rudam Orgyen Samten Chöling (Dzogchen monastery), the spring that reveals the teachings and practices of the Early Translation School. From the perfect emanation the sixth Jigdral Shangchub Dorje, from Drukpa Kuchen and so forth, he received numerous empowerments and reading transmissions of the Kama and Termas of his own tradition. Moreover, during a one-year retreat at Rudam Tsering Jong in the presence of Khenchen Pema Tsewang, supreme among the learned ones, he studied the Bodhicaryavatara, the dialectic and so forth.

Then, having arrived at Dzongsar, he received from Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö empowerments and oral transmissions of the Sakya school for about eight months.

At the age of twelve, having reached the Drupchen monastery of Dokhok, he received for around four months the empowerment and oral transmission of “The great treasury of precious Termas” (Rinchen Terdzö) from the fourth Dodrupchen Thubpa Rinpoche. Then, having returned to Dzogchen, he learned mainly the sūtras and tantras—the inner sciences— along with the other sciences.

He then took the Getsul ordination vows with his tutor Khenchen Jigme Yönten Gönpo, and remained supreme amongst monks, guarding like his own eyeballs the vows and precepts during various negative circumstances in different places and at different moments in time.

In the presence of the accomplished scholar Ngagwang Norbu, he studied a variety of profound Dharma texts of the sūtras and tantras as well as the ordinary sciences, and having just received the reading transmission of poetry, he was held as an inspiring reference following all his examinations in the composition of poetic acrostics.

Furthermore, with different khenpos and tulkus of [Dzogchen] monastery like Khenchen Thubten Nyendrag, the honourable Gemang Tulku and so forth, he concluded his listening to and reflecting on the profound instructions that ripen and liberate, mainly of his own tradition, and on the many authoritative commentaries of India and Tibet.

Generally speaking, his innate wisdom has been shining with glory and during his entire life, like a bee in the flower garden of all outer and inner sciences, he has been training his mind diligently and insatiably, without ever relaxing, so that his mindstream has become utterly rich with qualities. Not having at all the stain of arrogance or the attachment, anger and so forth of the eight worldly concerns, he has been living a simple life with the yogic discipline of a hermit.

After about fifteen winters, the times had changed in many ways and in those days he stayed at Rongrak Dzong, at Pal Lhagong and at Dardo Dzong for about two decades, during which he had to physically work hard, experiencing intense weariness.

In the Gregorian year 1981, when the good times of the revival of Buddha's teachings and the culture in the land of snow arose, the Ethnic Affairs Commission of the Sichuan province established a new Tibetan language school in Dzogchen. Having accepted the responsibility of vice-director, he took care of that work.

In 1984, he received the chief responsibility of the work related to the literature of Gesar within the Ethnic Research Institute. Furthermore, one after the other, he supervised the collection of all the Kangyur and Tengyur, the manuscript of the Early Translation Kama and Termas, the scriptural tradition of the culture of Tibet, the epic of Gesar and so forth—many ancient books of great value—, their comparison, and their neatly arranged publication. In addition, he had the responsibility of editing and correcting the great Tibetan-Chinese encyclopædia, the Gesar glossary, the Tibetan-Chinese encyclopædia of inner sciences, the Chinese-Tibetan bilingual dictionary and so forth at the time these were created. It is inconceivable how he nurtured these acts of far-reaching public benefit.

In brief, during these changing times, he was peerless in achievement and unfathomably kind in relation to the revival of the Dharma and the culture in Tibet, the land of snow.

In 1989, he arrived in the United Kingdom and learned English. Together with the English Gyurme Dorje, he translated the great Tibetan-Chinese encyclopædia into English. At present abroad, he is preparing a new dictionary in which he gathers together all the missing words of the Eight Chariots of the Practice Lineages.

I pray wholeheartedly that, in the future, this lotus-footed will be everlasting as the essence of the seven vajra qualities, and that all of his words and thoughts that are beneficial for the teachings and beings will be spontaneously accomplished, without hindrance!

Biography composed by the 7th Dzogchen Rinpoche Tenzin Lungtok Nyima
& translated by the Sambhota Translation Group