Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche
Venerable Jampal Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche
Abbot and Founder of Barom Kagyu Chodrak Drupju Chuling
Born at Chodrak Lungmagka, close by Chenjum Sengha, a sacred, holy place discovered by Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava, in the province of Kham, East Tibet, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche commenced his monastic studies at the age of eight when he was ordained by His Eminence Chodrak Saljey Rinpoche. Under the guidance of His Eminence Saljey Rinpoche and Venerable Lama Yeshe Rabje Rinpoche, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche trained for ten years in both the Barom Kagyu and Karma Kagyu traditions. Ven. Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche received full monastic training in all areas pertaining to monastic life, as well as completing secondary studies in Tibetan language, history and sociology. As an accomplished student, Rinpoche also received additional training at many other monastic institutions. At Palpung Monastery, Zokchen Monastery, Shechen Monastery and Arig Monastery, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche received teachings and tantric initiations conducted by Khenpo Lotsul Rinpoche, Khenpo Daser Rinpoche and Chodrak Monastery under the auspices of Khenpo Dam Cho Dawa Rinpoche and Khenpo Shedrup Gyurmed. In the next eight years, as well as completing studies in higher Buddhist philosophy, Rinpoche mastered the arts of musical instruments, torma making, chanting and Cham, ritual dancing for sacred purposes that westerners often refer to as “Lama dancing”.
Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche was blessed to receive many initiations, instructions and teachings from His Holiness The 17th Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje when he was enthroned at Tsurphu Monastery. From His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, Ven. Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche received essential and advanced teachings. In 1992, Rinpoche followed His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa from East Tibet to West Tibet. Because of the continuing uncertainty of the political climate in Tibet, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche and several other monks took this opportunity to escape Tibet and reached Nepal after an arduous and harrowing journey of twenty nine days.
In Nepal, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche commenced seven years’ study at Tenying Rinpoche’s Monastery in Kathmandu and undertook teaching, conducting pujas, practices and blessings at Chodak Thubten Dolma Shedrup Darjeling. After seven years’ intensive study and practice, Rinpoche completed three years, seven months retreat at Pharping Drubdey Osel Choling Monastery under the close guidance of His Eminence Khabje Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and Venerable Tenga Rinpoche.
In the early months of 2002, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche was invited by Venerable Choje Lama Shedrup to become the resident teacher at Kagyu Thigsum Chokyi Ghatsal Tibetan Buddhist Centre in Launceston, Tasmania. On October 3rd, 2002, Rinpoche touched down at Launceston Airport. In his three years as Resident teacher and Spiritual advisor, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche has reached out to many, conducting classes in secondary colleges on meditation practices and Buddhist philosophy, regularly visiting the sick and elderly in local hospitals and hospices, conducting weddings, blessings for new born babies and house blessings. The outstanding delicacy and beauty of Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche’s artistry has been recognised by the Tasmanian government, and Rinpoche’s infectious pleasure in the joy of spiritual endeavour as expressed in classical Tibetan Buddhist sadhanas has inspired us all to more meaningful and dedicated practice. Rinpoche regularly travels between Launceston, Sydney, Melbourne and the south coast of NSW to meet with his students, give dharma talks, conduct pujas and guide us on our spiritual path.
Biography of the Ven. Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche
Ven. Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche with His Holiness the 17th Karmapa
Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche was born in Kham, Nangchen Chodrak of Tibet in 1971. Chodrak Chenjum Seng-ha is a sacred holy place discovered by Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava. Close by is Rinpoche's birth place, Chodrak Lungmagka. At the age of eight, he was ordained as a novice monk under His Eminence Chodrak Saljey Rinpoche and Venerable Lama Yeshe Rab-ge Rinpoche at Chodrak Monastery of both Barum Kagyu and Karma Kagyu traditions. He trained here for ten years, until eighteen years of age. During this time he received full foundation practice and monastic training. He gained skills in Tibetan Grammar and Lexicography, chanting, torma making and other traditional skills pertaining to monastic life.
He received many great teachings and transmissions from Ven. Lama Yeshe Rab-ge Rinpoche, some of which included:
- The Words Of My Perfect Teacher by Dza Patrul Rinpoche
- Torch of Certainty by Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoche.
- Four Foundations of Buddhism Practise
- The Four Extraordinary Preliminary Practises of Mahamudra.
At fourteen years of age he received novice ordination of monks vows of the Nyingma tradition from Kinchen Aarig Pense Rinpoche, and continued to gain teachings of:
- Bodhisattva Acharya Avatara from Shantideva
- Prajnaparamita from Getsun Jampa Gompo.
- Abhidharma; buddhist metaphysics training of discriminating knowledge.
- Training in Perfect Conduct, ascertaining the three vows.
- Ngari Panchen, Pema Wangyi Gyalpo.
For two years Kenpho Daser Rinphoche and Khenpo Tsoltse Rinpoche offered many great and special teachings. Also, at Palpung monastry H.E. the Twelfth Tai Situ Rinpoche offered a great blessing for two months of the Kagyu Tradition; Damngag Zod (The Treasure of Pith Instructions), ordination of Pratisambhara, Bodhichitta and Secret Mantrayana.
In 1983, the main Philosophy subjects he studied under the auspices of Chodrak Abbot, Ven. Khenpo Damchoe Dawa Rinpoche, and Khenpo Shedrup Gyurmed Rinpoche: Bodhisattva Acharya Avatara ( The Gateway to Bodhisattva's Conduct), Gyalsey Laklen (Practice of Bodhisattvas),Tri Samvaray Domsom Accomplishments include memorising Bodhisattva Acharya Avatara and Prajnaparamita texts in full.
In 1992, he went from East Tibet to West Tibet to follow His Holiness, the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa who was being enthroned at Tsurphu Monastery. At this time, he had an opportunity to acquire H.H.'s audience as many as seven times and during each of the audiences he received a number of initiations, instructions and teachings from H.H. He and several others took this opportunity to escape Tibet and reached Nepal after an arduous journey of 29 days passing through deep gorges and stiff cliffs into dense forest and dark nights. This was a particularly dangerous time had the Chinese caught them attempting to escape the consequences would most certainly have resulted in life imprisonment. Within this time of travel they experienced seven days without food, some of his companions came very close to death, however fortunately they all made it through to the Nepalese border together.
At Chodrak Monastery there are three main Rinpoches: H.E. Saljey Rinpoche, Tongka Rinpoche and H.E Ten Nying Rinpoche. H.E Ten Nying Rinpoche has a monastery named Boudha Chodrak Tennying Monastery in Kathmandu, he resided here for seven years. During this time he was actively involved in study and ceremonial duties and also received the very auspicious teachings from H.E. Sangye Nyempa Rinpoche of seven points mind training. In 1999 he then joined the three year, three month retreat in Palpin Penchin Drubdey Osel Chuling Retreat Centre under the close guidance of H. E. Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche and Ven. Tenga Rinpoche. This retreat encompassed the Method path which is the Six Yogas of Naropa, the Liberation path, which is Mahamudra, and the Upper and Lower Tantric practices, which includes the generation stage, the completion stage and mantra recitations. This retreat was completed in May 2002.
In October 2002, he accepted the position of Resident Lama at Kagyu Thigsum Chokyi Ghatsal Centre at Launceston, Tasmania at the request of Venerable Choje Lama Shedrup. He has since resided there performing ritual duties such as Puja, chanting, meditation classes, Tibetan Language classes and studying English.
He has received many teachings from his Gurus led by HH 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Orgyen Trinley Dorje. From His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, he received the complete set of teachings of Damngag Zod (The Treasure of Pith Instructions), ordination of Pratisambhara, Bodhicita and Secret Mantrayana at the time when His Eminence visited his main seat in Tibet, Palpung Monastery. He also received many essential teachings when His Eminence was in Taiwan.
List of practices undertaken during the Three Year Retreat:
- Background history relating to the dissemination of Buddhism
- How to generate Bodhicita (altruistic mind)
- Facilitating an environment conducive to commitment to practice
- How to rely on antidotes and dispel obstacles during the course of practice
- How to perform rituals in order to develop one’s inspiration toward observing virtuous action
- Mantra propitiation of the Secret Drop of Vajrakilaya
- The four preliminary revulsion practices on CommonMahamudra
- The four uncommon preliminary practices
- The Guru propitiation practice on Lord Milarepa
- The Guru propitiation practice on Karma Pakshi
- The Seven Point Mind training Practice
- Contemplation on the training of Tranquility and Mental Insight
- Exterior propitiation of Vajrabharahi
- Interior propitiation of Vajrabharari
- Rules of Fire Puja
- The Secret Propitiation of Vajrabharari
- Practices on the Six Dharmas of Naropa
- The exterior practice on the Manta of Chakrasambara
- Internal and external propitiation of Chakrasambara
- Propitiation of Perfect Secret
- Fire Puja of Hevajra
- The exterior Mantra Propitiation of Gyalwa Gyatso
- Mantra Propitiation of Vairochana(Kunrig)
- The Grand Puja on Kunrig
- The Mantra Propitiation on Gonpo Mitrukpa(Achala)
- Fire Puja of Achala
- The Mantra Propitiation of Amhitaba
- The mantra Propitiation of Dorje Drolo (Wrathful Form of Guru Padmasambhava)
- The propitiatory practice on the Six Armed Mahakala with consort (Yeshe Gonpo Berchen)
- The means of accumulating merit through Chod practice, known as the Sources of All Qualities
- The Mantra Propitiation of White Tara which bestows all accomplishments
- The Grand Propitiatory Puja
- The Fire Puja of White Tara
- The Regala Propitiatory Pujas hel frequently in the year
- The trainings related to the things to be practised and things to be abandoned
- How to conclude the Retreat.
The Ven. Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche's Family
Barom Kagyu Chodrak Drupju Chuling Tibetan Buddhist Group
The Barom Kagyu Chodrak Drupju Chuling Tibetan Buddhist Group was founded by Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche in 2004 and registered as a not for profit, incorporated association in March, 2005. Barom Kagyu Chodrak Drupju Chuling was established by Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche to bring precious teachings and practice lineage to the west. Until this time, very few, authentic Barom Kagyu lineage holders have been able to come to western countries to teach and transmit the immeasurably beneficial practices of this lineage. Since coming to Australia, in 2002, in keeping with Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava’s pre-sentient vision that the Dharma would flourish in the west, Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche has worked toward establishing an authentic Barom Kagyu practice lineage in Australia
Named by our spiritual director, His Eminence Chodrak Saljey Rinpoche, the goals of Barom Kagyu Chodrak Drupju Chuling are clearly reflected in the English translation – The Barom Kagyu Chodrak Centre for Charity and Peace. It is Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche’s vision that the teachings of the Barom Kagyu lineage will bring peace, compassion, wisdom and loving kindness to his students. He also works tirelessly to promote the welfare of the Tibetan people in Yushu, Kham, in the Tibetan Autonomous Region in China, which has been described as one of the most economically disadvantaged areas in Tibet. Venerable Sonam Tenzin Rinpoche’s charitable projects are raising funds for the Chodrak orphanage, the nuns of Dechencholing Chodrak Nunnery and funding for a free medical clinic.