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Most Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche

Great meditation master and abbot of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism

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I pay homage to the Vajra-mind of indestructible nature,
the basis of all brilliant qualities, including great compassion and wisdom awareness.
Even though all sentient beings want to be free from suffering,
the darkness of their ignorance is so thick that the light of awareness cannot penetrate it.
May the Great Victorious Ones dispel their ignorance!
The ocean of blood of sentient beings’ desire is so deep that they cannot cross it without help.
May the Great compassionate Ones bless them with enough strength to cross that ocean!
The elemental fire of hatred is so powerful that it burns the silks of peace and harmony.
May the rain of wisdom of all Victorious Ones quench those flames!
The mountain peaks of pride and arrogance are so high that beings cannot surmount them.
May the equanimity of the Victorious Ones give blessings so that beings can see others as themselves!
The sharp knife of jealousy cuts the tree of virtue.
May the Fully Awakened Ones give blessing so that beings may rejoice for others!
Grant blessings to purify these afflictive emotions!
Grant blessings to achieve wisdom awareness which enables beings to see their innate nature!
Grant blessings so that genuine peace, joy and happiness permeate all minds throughout the universe!
(by Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche)

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Brief Biography
Dharma teachings by Khenchen Rinpoche
Short synopses of Dharma Books written by Khenchen Rinpoche
Vajra Songs Composed by Khenchen Rinpoche
Drikung Abbot Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche Enthroned as Khenchen
An Interview with most Venerable Khenchen Rinpoche
Khenchen Rinpoche's Past Auspicious Dharma Activities in Tibet
Long Life Prayer for Khenchen Rinpoche

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Brief Biography of Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche

The village of Tsari and the area surrounding areas are among the most sacred places in Tibet. It was there that Khenchen Gyaltshen Rinpoche was born in the spring of 1946, and it was there that he spent his early years.

In 1959, because of the political situation in Tibet, Khenchen Rinpoche fled to India with his family. The family then settled in Darjeeling, where Rinpoche began his education. Even at a young age, he was an excellent and dedicated student, and he was able to complete his middle school studies in less than the average time.

At about this same time a new university, the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, opened in Varanasi, India. Determined to be among its first students, Khenchen Rinpoche traveled to Varanasi in October 1967 to seek admission. He then began a nine-year course of study that included Madhyamika, Abhidharma, Vinaya, the Abbisamayalankara, and the Uttaratantra, as well as history, logic, and Tibetan grammar.  In early 1987, he had the good fortune to take full monastic ordination from the great Kalu Rinpoche, and, shortly after graduating from the Institute, he received teachings from the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa on the realization songs of the Indian mahasiddhas.

Even after completing this long and arduous course of study, Khenchen Rinpoche wanted only to deepen his knowledge and practice of the Dharma. With the same intensity that he brought to his earlier studies, Rinpoche sought out and received teachings and instructions from great Buddhist masters. One was the Venerable Khunu Lama Rinpoche, with whom Khenchen Rinpoche studied two works of Gampopa: The Jewel Ornament of Liberation and The Precious Garland of the Excellent Path. Rinpoche’s studies with the Venerable Khunu Lama also included mahamudra and many of the songs of Milarepa.

In all his studies, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation is one of the texts that Khenchen found to be most inspiring.  Lord Gampopa lays out the teachings in a clear and systematic way that is understandable to beginners.  At the same time, the work is such profound depth that scholars and practitioners can study it over and over and still not fully grasp its meaning.  He has said on several occasions, "Anyone who knows the Jewel Ornament well can say that they really understand Buddhism."

Maintaining a balance between theoretical understanding and the practice of meditation, Khenchen Rinpoche began the traditional three-year retreat in 1978 under the guidance of the enlightened master Khyunga Rinpoche. During this time, he was able to deepen and enhance his understanding of The Fivefold Path of Mahamudra, the Six Yoga of Naropa and the profound Gong Chik text of Lord Jigten sumgon. He also received many other transmissions.

In 1985, Khenchen Rinpoche traveled to the main seat of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, Drikung Thil, in Tibet. There he was able to receive personal blessings, as well as instructions and transmissions of mahamudra and the Six Yogas of Naropa, from the enlightened master, the Venerable Pachung Rinpoche.

In 1982, the force of karma and the requests of many practitioners combined to bring Khenchen Rinpoche to the United States. By late 1983, the Tibetan Meditation Center was well established in Washington, DC. Their original location was the site of innumerable teachings, practices, retreats and ceremonies.  In September 1984, and again in 1987, the young Center was blessed with personal visits and teachings by His Holiness the Dalai Lama.  Through Khenchen Rinpoche's and the Center's efforts, Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche visited later in 1987, and people in several states were able to receive benefit from his teachings and presence.

Wanting the teachings of Dharma to reach as many people as possible, Khenchen Rinpoche has quickly adapted himself to Western forms of communication. He has made appearances on television, been a guest on many radio programs, lectured extensively at colleges and universities, and spoken to the public through countless newspaper articles.

Rinpoche’s compassion and dedication to the Dharma have taken him to all parts of the world. Rinpoche travels tirelessly, giving teachings, leading retreats and opening Dharma centers throughout North America, South America and Europe. He has established centers throughout the US and in Chile, and he frequently visits in Europe, countries like Germany, Italy, Austria and Sweden, as well as Southeast Asia.  Between 1983 and 1990, Khenchen Rinpoche single-handedly translated critical Drikung Kagyu meditation practices, prayers and histories into English. The originals of the texts were all written out by his hand: Achi Chokyi Drolma, Amitabha, Bodhicitta, Chakrasamvara, Chod, the complete Ngondro, Five-fold Mahamudra, Four-Session Guru Yoga, Green Tara, Lama Chopa and tsok, Mahakala, Mandala offering, Manjushri, Medicine Buddha, Milarepa Guru Yoga, Nyung Ne, Peaceful Guru Padmasambhava, Phowa, Refuge, Chenrezig, Vajrapani, Vajrasattva, Vajrayogini, and White Tara. The Illusory Body teachings, Supplication to Tara, Treasury of Benefit and Happiness, Meaningful to Behold, many other prayers and three of his four books were all translated and published during this time. This priceless work formed the essential base from which the holy Dharma could be taught and practiced. Because of his efforts, Western students are now able to read and perform these practices in their own language.

In November 1991, Khenchen Rinpoche and the Tibetan Meditation Center moved to Frederick, Maryland.  Nestled inside a state park, the Center is now situated on four wooded acres.  A small temple has been built there, and was consecrated by His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche in 1994.  With this larger facility and in surroundings more conducive to contemplation, Rinpoche has been able to benefit even more people with his teachings.  Now that Western students are becoming interested in long term retreat practice, plans are being made to establish a residential retreat center nearby.

A skilled and dedicated translator, Rinpoche has published seven books before this: Prayer Flags, In Search of the Stainless Ambrosia, The Garland of Mahamudra Practices, The Great Kagyu Masters, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, The Jewel Treasury of Advice and The Transformation of Suffering. In this way, Rinpoche has been able to make important texts available to the public and to provide his students with a thorough and systematic training in the Dharma.  Rinpoche has taken enormous care to make each translations as precise as possible.  Because he himself has been so moved by these words that come directly from great masters, he believes it is critical that these same words be presented in an unadulterated manner.  For example, to translate this text, he and his editor went through the entire text word by word four times, sometimes spending an hour or more on a single phrase or sentence.  It is his sincere hope that, through this genuine effort, the readers will be inspired like himself by these precious Dharma teachings.

As a public figure, Khenchen Rinpoche continues to write, to translate texts, and to teach whenever requested. He has traveled to the Drikung Kagyu Institute in India, where he taught the Gong Chik to a group of about ninety monks and nuns. With the financial assistance of friends and students worldwide, Rinpoche was able to print 1,700 copies of the gong Chik and to distribute them to the students of the Institute, as well as monks, nuns and monasteries in India, Nepal and Tibet. In 1996, Rinpoche printed and distributed 1,500 copies of Essence of the Mahayana Teachings by Ngorje Repa, an important disciple of Lord Jigten Sumgon.

Remembering the struggles of his early years, Khenchen Rinpoche inspires and supports monks, nuns and the laypeople in their practice of the Dharma and is always ready to assist them in whatever way he can. To turn the Dharma wheel, Khenchen sacrifices all his comfort.  He has recently spent several months traveling to various places in Tibet bestowing tiredlessly the precious Dharma teachings to local monks and nuns. To all, he gives of himself freely. With his heart and mind turned firmly towards the Dharma, he compassionately and with great patience shows the way. 

We are gratified to hear that His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche will enthrone Khenpo Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche as a Khenchen (Great Abbot) by  on January 16, 2001 at Jangchub Ling monastery, Dehra Dun, India.  This is indeed a very great honor and great inspiration to all of us.  We are all inspired by his unceasing altruistic effort in teaching the Dharma, in guiding us onto the Path so that we recognize Dharma as our ultimate friend. 

In more recent years, Khenchen Rinpoche spends a great deal of his time traveling in order to give teachings and lead retreats. He has established centers throughout the US and in Chile, and he frequently visits in Europe, especially Germany and Austria, as well as Southeast Asia. A skilled and dedicated translator, he has published numerous books: Great Kagyu Masters, Garland of Mahamudra Practices, Jewel Treasury of Advice, Prayer Flags, Jewel Ornament of Liberation, Transformation of Suffering, Pearl Rosery (The Path of Purification), Calling to the Lama from Afar and A Complete Guide to the Buddhist Path.

 

 

 TOP         Vajra songs composed by most Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche

Two Sides of the Same Hand
Khenchen Rinpoche's most recent composition, first given at TMC's 14th Annual Spring Retreat, May 23-June 7, 2009. In the colophon, Rinpoché writes: "Perceiving the stainless and precious, unsurpassable and sublime Dharma of the Teacher to be the source of all relative and ultimate benefit and happiness, I have spent many long years, with pure altruistic intention, obtaining whatever of it I have been able in the far-flung countries of this world. Unfortunately, these days both my body and mind are sometimes overpowered by a strong exhaustion that does not respond much to medicine or treatment, and so I recently took some time to rest and recover in the American city of Madison. While there, in early spring of 2009, with an altruistic mind hoping to benefit those who seek the meaning of the Dharma, and contemplating how the demarcation between samsara and nirvana is delineated by virtue and non-virtue, I, Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen, composed this text, entitled Samsara and Nirvana, Two Sides of the Same Hand, in dependence upon Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön’s profound Dharma and skilled teachings...."

Permissions and Prohibitions
Composed by Khenchen Rinpoche in 2008, this verse contains the essential points for training in the Three Vows (of individual liberation, bodhisattva and secret mantra) and in particular presents the view of Jigten Sumgön on this important matter. Also included is a new Guru Yoga text composed by Rinpoché known as A Guru Yoga that Brings the Dharmakaya Onto the Path.

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In Praise of Tsaritra
Khenchen Rinpoche, as many know, was born in the area of Tsari - a famous pilgrimage site for all Tibetan Buddhists in southeastern Tibet. Aside from being a major pilgrimage-mountain (nekhor-ri), Tsari - also known as the "Pure Crystal Mountain" - has been a powerful site for yogic practice since the twelfth century.

In 2003, Khenchen Rinpoche composed In Praise of the Great Holy Place Tsaritra and this was subsequently translated into English by Terence Barrett in 2005.



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The Guru that Brings the Dharmakaya onto the Path
- a practice profound of meaning and rich with blessing for the modern regular practitioner with limited time.

A recording of Rinpoche's chanting this practice in Tibetan can be downloaded here.

  


 

 

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Venerable Khenchen Rinpoches' past auspicious Dharma activities in Eastern Tibet (summer 2007)

 

PalméGon Monastery in Nangchen, Qinghai

Palmé Gon Monastery in Nangchen (Qinghai province). Khenchen Rinpoché taught The Heart-Essence of the Mahayana (Ten-Nying) to Lho Kunsang Rinpoché's monks here. During this trip, Khenchen Rinpoché stayed here the longest and gave many other transmissions to students of the monastic college here.

This was Rinpoche's second visit since 1998.

 

 

Gar Monastery in Nangchen, Qinghai

Then, Rinpoche taught upon request The Six Yogas of Naropa teachings (mostly transmissions) to the retreatants at the GarMonastery. The year before, Rinpoche stayed there for ten days explaining the Five Fold Mahamudra.

 

 

DrubGyü Monastery in Qinghai

This is the largest Drikung Kagyu monastery (in terms of the number of monks, more than seven hundred monks) in Tibet and Rinpoche stayed there for six days.  He taught  Serkhangma (The Golden Chapel Prayer by Kyobpa Jikten Sumgön)  for three days and one day practising Lama Chöpa. This was Rinpoche's second visit since 1998.

 

 

DrubGyü Nunnery in Qinghai

Rinpoche visited the nunnery for one day, giving oral transmission of the root text of Heart Essence of Mahayana Teachings to more than two hundred nuns.

This was Rinpoche's second visit since 1998.

 

 

Rinpoche teaching at the DrubGyü Nunnery

 

 

GeuGon Monastery in Nangchen, Qinghai

Rinpoche taught Serkhangma for three days and one day practising Lama Chöpa.  All the participants have strong devotion to the Dharma and highly appreciated Rinpoches' teachings.  They strongly requested Rinpoche to return in the near future.

 

 

RabGye Monastery in Yunnan

Rinpoche stayed there for 20 days teaching Serkhangma, Ngöndro and giving other transmissions at the Buddhist College at the foot of the mountain. The teachings ended with one day of Lama Chöpa Tsog Offering. This was Rinpoche's first visit.

 

OmGya Monastery in Szechuen

Rinpoche spent two days at the monastery which is located near a cave at the edge of a steep cliff.  Rinpoche gave transmission on the Five Fold Mahamudra and the practice of Lama Chöpa Tsog Offering.  Twenty to thirty students attended the transmission. This was Rinpoche's first visit.

 

 

Dedicate and Rejoice

 

The donations made to these monasteries all came from the offerings made by Dharma Centers and individuals to Khenchen Rinpoche. So, you can see that these donations were used well. Everyone should dedicate this merit, and rejoice in those individuals’ good deeds.

 

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Drikung Abbot Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche Enthroned as Khenchen

by Victoria Huckenpahler (from Snow Lion summer 2001 newsletter)

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His Holiness Chetsang Rinpoche

His Holiness Dalai Lama

Ven. Drubwang Konchog Norbu Rinpoche

Ven. Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche

Khenpo Konchog Gyaltshen, teacher and author, whose glowing smile and down-to-earth presence have endeared him to students worldwide, was elevated earlier this year to the status of Khenchen (Great Scholar) by H.H. Chetsang Rinpoche, head of the Drikung Kagyu. He is the only member of that lineage to bear the title.

On 14 May, the event was celebrated at the Tibetan Meditation Center in Frederick, Maryland, which Rinpoche had founded (originally in Washington, DC) in 1982. The festivities included a Lama Chöpa (Guru Puja and Tsok Offering), remarks by Khenchen Rinpoche, and a salutation by the Center’s President.

While the traditional dresil (sweetened rice) and Tibetan tea were served, Rinpoche thanked the audience, some of whom had come from as far as Seattle, for joining him in celebrating the occasion which marks the culmination of his nearly two decades of service in this country and abroad. He then recounted the Dharma activities he has performed since the turn of the year, beginning in India where, besides being enthroned Khenchen, he taught the seminal Drikung work, Gong Chik. This historic teaching cycle formed part of the great Snake Year teachings, held only once every twelve years. This was followed by appearances in Taiwan, Los Angeles, Big Sur, and Tucson, among others. "The time was well spent," Rinpoche remarked. "I felt privileged, despite fatigue, the time changes, and the fact of having to change beds every week." And some, he noted with typical humor, "were harder than others!" He then cautioned that though we sometimes approach the Dharma as just another hobby, it is in fact the most important part of our lives. Nor is the cultural aspect key, but rather, the implementation of the practice. He concluded by reciting his daunting schedule for the remainder of the year which, besides the annual Spring retreat in Frederick, includes an around-the-world tour, starting with a pilgrimage to Mt. Kailash, followed by appearances in Malaysia, Europe and Hawaii.

TMC President Paul Palmer then graciously recounted Rinpoche’s multitudinous achievements from the time he was ordained bhikshu (full monk) by Kalu Rinpoche, to his arrival in America nearly 20 years ago, until his present enthronement as Khenchen. Working in the early days in the US under conditions which Palmer termed "spartan," Rinpoche not only taught tirelessly, but translated numerous sadhanas, authored seven books of lineage prayers, and histories (including The Jewel Ornament of Liberation and the forthcoming The Garland of Mahamudra Practices), and twice hosted H.H. the Dalai Lama at the Center – all between teaching engagements in the North and South America, Europe and Asia. By popular demand he established additional Drikung centers around the world, thus making Dharma in general more available to the public, while establishing the Drikung lineage in particular as a solid, widespread presence. When the Tibetan Meditation Center moved from DC to its present, expanded quarters in Frederick, Rinpoche continued a back-breaking schedule of writing (the Center founded its own publishing company, Vajra Publications); hosting such eminent teachers as HH the Drikung Kyabgon, HE Garchen Rinpoche, and the yogi, Drubwang Konchog Norbu; ordaining Western monks and nuns; and establishing annual Spring Retreats. In addition, he has made smaller appearances at schools, colleges, and prisons, and has granted numerous interviews to the press. Because of his unflagging efforts, combined with the purchase of 36 acres of mountainside property in Frederick, the Center looks forward to a future in which it will doubtless draw retreatants from all over America. Palmer also remarked on Rinpoche’s unblemished maintenance of ethical discipline, a cherished trait in this time of degeneration, and one which has inspired the respect of visiting teachers, as well as the confidence and veneration of his students. The Drikung Kyabgon himself has noted that Rinpoche "protects his pure monk’s vows as fiercely as his own eyes," and Center members know that he has always avoided even the hint of administrative divisiveness. In this way he has taught as much by example as through formal instruction.

Rinpoche’s long-time followers are gratified that his back-breaking efforts, which for many ears were seemingly valued below their full worth, are now being acknowledged both officially by his recent enthronement, and by students around the world who are manifesting a growing eagerness to avail themselves of his gems of wisdom. Rinpoche’s Long Life Prayer reflects the sentiments and well-wishes of all his followers in the words; "You who are richly endowed with the glorious wealth of Dharma knowledge, who through reflecting and meditating, have actualized the self-aware absolute reality and shine with the hundred-thousand light rays of ethical discipline of the Buddha-Dharma, may you, Khenchen Ratna Dwaza, live long!"

An interview with most Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche TOP         

An interview with most Venerable Khenchen Rinpoche by Jeff Cox appears in the recent Snow Lion Newsletter (Volume 20, Number 3, Summer 2006) about the 3 poisons (ignorance, desire and anger). 

Below are a few excerpts from the article:

”…there is an intellectual understanding of impermanence, and there is the actual experience. In our intellectual understanding, we know things are changing constantly, people are born and die. At the same time, in the mind, there is ignorance and the desire to hold on to the object as something permanent—there is grasping due to the habit of lifetimes to grasp onto objects. That habitual tendency to grasp is so powerful that we may understand impermanence intellectually but practically speaking that understanding is not accepted. That is how we are suffering.”

“First you must understand the disadvantages of ignorance, desire, anger, pride, jealousy – the poisons. You need a strong understanding that these need to be purified. This is the fundamental way to reveal our inner mental qualities. To have this you must have strong devotion, determination, and dedication—which is not so easy. We do need outer comforts, but they will not bring actual happiness or joy. We have to realize that. When we are fully convinced of this, and we work with an authentic teacher, then we can overcome the delusions and confusions of samsara and be free from this cycle—and reveal the enlightened qualities.”

 

 

Long Life Prayer for Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche  TOP   

Short version

You who are richly endowed with the glorious wealth of Dharma knowledge,

who, through reflecting and meditating, have actualized the self-aware absolute reality

and shrine with the hundred thousand light rays of ethical discipline of the Buddha-Dharma,

May you, Khenchen Ratna Dwaza, live long!

Long version

A sun's Blazing Brilliance of Virtue

A long-life prayer for the Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen,

elucidator of the teachings of the Glorious Dakpo Kagyu

 

Swasti!

Guardian of the original dharmata, presiding master of all Buddha families

Chief of an ocean of mandalas, great secret of the one hundred Buddha families

Most magnificent of the various appearances, dispeller of the six realms’ hardships –

This Kagyu lama, the embodiment of all Buddha families, bestows all goodness.

 

Most resplendent of wealth-holders of the Sage’s full-libertion teaching

Most magnificent of world-holders of the fully pure attainment lineage

Most supreme of essence-holding elements that dispel the multitude of hardships –

I supplicate this great all-knowing guide to the path.

 

He differentiates into provisional and definitive the transcendent practice of complete study

Realizes as the two truths the transcendent practice of unmixed contemplation, and

Actualizes the transcendent practice of unmistaken meditation –

May this maintainer of the Sage’s tradition have a long life!

 

 

He is expert, of all scripture and understanding, in the sutric and tantric teachings of the Conqueror

Diligent, with pure discipline, in the sutric and tantric teachings of the Conqueror

Excellent, with developed Supreme Mindset, in the sutric and tantric teachings of the Conqueror –

May this clarifier of the Jewel, the Conqueror’s teachings, have a long life!

 

He roars the thunder of the teachings of the Gong Chig

Flashes the thousand-lightning-bolts of the ignorance-suppressing Gong Chig

Showers the sweet rain of the un-declined Gong Chig –

May this expert bearer of the Gong Chig standard have a long life!

 

Holder of the comprehensive Dakpo attainment lineage

Preserver of the supreme path, unmistaken in all aspects of the meaning lineage

Propagator to those of Mahayana family the profound dharmas of the transmission lineage –

May this great being who upholds the Kagyu teachings have a long life!

 

True blessing-power of the Three Jewels, Three Roots, and the dharma guardians

Changeless-sphere truth of all that is good and beneficial in the three times –

Through full purity of the Three Faiths, may the indestructible three secrets of the

Jetsun Lama blaze always, with magnificence, goodness, and virtue!

These seven verses of vajra-dharmic long-life prayer for the unequalled great khenpo, a wish-fulfilling jewel, were composed with single-pointed aspiration by the wholly inferior follower of the Dakpo Kagyu by the name of Rase Könchog Gyatso during the Festival of Miracles of the Fire Dog year (2550).

This long-life prayer was translated from the Tibetan in the interval between the Festival of the Buddha’s Descent from the God-Realms and Thanksgiving, 2006, by Könchog Dorje, Terence Barrett- one who has seen the truth of the words of this prayer on many occasions but has internalized too little and repaid the kindness described even less.  May the truth, beauty, and devotion evident in the original Tibetan long-life prayer to the benevolent Khenchen Rinpoche of the Drigung Kagyu shine through in this attempt at translation with the blessing of the Kagyu masters!

Version 3

Channel-knots are untied by this treasury of confident intelligence that
Excellently clarifies the instructions, mindset, treatises, textual
tradition, and
Life-essence of the Triple Gem [Konchog] Teaching --
May the life of this great Lamp of the Teachings be stable and long!

You meaningfully promulgate the Teachings everywhere;
You raise aloft the Victory Banner [Gyaltshen] of the non-setting Teachings;
Your fearless roar annihilates wrong views -- May the life of this
Maintainer of the Unerring Victor's Teaching Treasury be stable and long!

- from "Flower of Faith and Good Fortune," a long-life prayer for Khenchen Rinpoché offered by the 14th Dru-tshe-bhum Chen-nga Rinpoché.

 

 

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Dedication
May all sentient beings be filled with the fragrance of morality,
and attain to the standards of not being heedless,
not being impure, not being defiled, having nothing to regret,
becoming free from bondage, being unfrenzied, nontransgression, nonextremism,
emancipation from the world, and the transcendent ways of enlightening beings. 
May all sentient beings, by these precepts, all accomplish the body of morality of all Buddhas.

Last updated on 2011-03-19.