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Baba Phuntsog Wangyal dies at age 92

Baba Phuntsog Wangyal passed away yesterday in Bejing. He was 92 years old.

Much will be written about his unique role in the recent history of Tibet. He was a true patriot, according to the Tibetans inside and outside Tibet whom I trust. What might not be written about in the next few days by journalists, academics and historians is that Phuwang, as he known in Tibet, was a devout Buddhist. Of course socio-politically he was a Communist. When I met Phuwang on a couple different  Read More 
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Tertön Sogyal's grandson, Tromge Tulku Khacho Dechen Wangpo

This is the grandson of Tertön Sogyal, Tromge Tulku Khacho Dechen Wangpo, a great meditator who lives in eastern Tibet. I was honored to meet him a few times and to talk about Tertön Sogyal. I once told him that I wanted to write the biography of his grandfather, and asked for his blessing to do so. He gave me a white prayer bead from his rosary for the endeavor, which I put around my neck to bless my speech, and written word!  Read More 
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Nyala Pema Düddul and Tertön Sogyal first retreats

Tertön Sogyal's first teacher was the master Nyala Pema Düddul, who attained rainbow body in 1872. Pema Düddul is shown in this wall mural at Kalzang Temple, surrounded by his disciples, and above his head, the lineage gurus. Pema Düddul sent the young Tertön Sogyal into retreat under the yogi Lama Sonam Thaye. Theirs was a lineage not of ordained monks living in large monasteries but of lay tantric yogis, untethered by convention, who wandered from hermitage to cave, occasionally stopping in the towns across Tibet. Tertön Sogyal stayed for five years in his first retreat on the Tromthar plains, especially at the remote encampment of Drikok under Lama Sonam Thaye. As I write in “Fearless in Tibet,”  Read More 
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Khandro Pumo Trinely Chodren

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This is one of my favorite photos in "Fearless in Tibet: The Life of the Mystic Tertön Sogyal", which is of Tertön Sogyal's wife, Khandro Pumo Trinley Chodren, a humble and highly realized Dzogchen yogini.

The photo was taken on her stupa which is in Nyarong, eastern Tibet. Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo bestowed the name "Trinely Chodren" which was part of the name of one of his root gurus, Jetsun Trinley Chodren. Mindroling monastery writes, "Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo received the Nyingthig teachings of Dzogchen— the ripening empowerments, liberating instructions, entrusted advices and so forth—from Jetsün  Read More 
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Tertön Sogyal's birthhome in Shiwa village, eastern Tibet

Tertön was born in a small village in eastern Tibet in the region of Nyarong. This is the family who lives where the tertön was born. They are not blood relatives of Tertön Sogyal but know of him and have his portrait in the family room.
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Hermits, yogis and lamas in Nyarong

Many of the stories about Tertön Sogyal's childhood came from the hermits, lamas, and yogis from the Nyarong region in eastern Tibet. I am very grateful to all of these gritty hermits with whom I spent many days asking questions!
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Kalzang Temple in Nyarong

extract from "Fearless in Tibet: The Life of the Mystic Tertön Sogyal" about Kalzang Temple, which became the seat of Tertön Sogyal:

Nyala Pema Dündul frequented many hermitages and caves during his life-long wanderings, but it was this peak where he chose to spend nearly a decade in retreat in the Cave of Blazing Expanse of Great Bliss on the mountain’s southeast side. He sustained himself during those years on the water that dripped in his shallow cave and the herbs that grew by the entrance. Pema Dündul’s austerities mirrored those of the 11th-century Tibetan saint Milarepa. The last years of retreat in his cave, Pema Dündul perfected an alchemical practice whereby he ate only wild rhubarb flowers and berries, and eventually subsisted by sucking on pebbles to extract the life essence of the substances through yogic exercises, and mantra, earning him the nickname “The Rock Eater.”

One day in the Iron Monkey year (1860), soon after he had completed nine years of retreat, Pema Dündul was meditating under the cobalt sky near his home village of Khangtseg, which lies below Lhangdrak Peak. Pema Dündul rested his gaze in the space in front of the soaring peak, and soon the sky began to fill with shooting rainbows, one after another. Coils of light sprang Read More 
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Sogyal Rinpoche's foreword to 'Fearless in Tibet'

Sogyal Rinpoche (photo by Jurek Schreiner)
Foreword to Fearless in Tibet: The Life of the Mystic Tertön Sogyal

It was just over fifty years ago that the world suddenly became aware of Tibet and its culture, when His Holiness the Dalai Lama and a hundred thousand Tibetan people fled into exile, escaping the destruction in our homeland. Since that time, people in the wider world have discovered our extraordinary living tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, which has prevailed for over a thousand years in Tibet and the Himalayan regions and has often been called one of the last ancient wisdom cultures on earth. With its remarkable knowledge of the mind and its profound disciplines of study and practice, the Buddhist tradition of Tibet produced countless outstanding masters and spiritually realized practitioners. One of these was Tertön Sogyal or Lerab Lingpa, an exceptional figure who lived over a century ago during the lifetime of the 13th Dalai Lama.

As I write these words, I can see the sun gleaming on the copper roof of the temple here at Lerab Ling, the retreat center in France that I founded in the name of Tertön Sogyal. Thinking about him now, I realize that he was someone whose life embraced many different facets and dimensions. To begin with, you could say that he was a spiritual leader, deeply concerned with the future  Read More 
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Mark the calendar for Book launch events in New York and Washington DC May 28 & 29

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 7-9 pm New York, Tibet House, 22 West 15th Street, New York, NY 10011

Thursday, May 29, 2014 evening, Washington DC, International Campaign for Tibet,
1825 Jefferson Place NW, Washington, DC, 20036

Join author Matteo Pistono for a discussion and photo presentation of "Fearless in Tibet: The Life of the Mystic Tertön Sogyal" (Hay House 2014). Pistono will take you on a visual pilgrimage into the heart of Tibet, featuring stories and photographs from a decade of travels to sacred sites associated with the life of Tertön Sogyal. You will experience what devout pilgrims endure on their arduous outer journey to remote caves, holy mountains, ancient hermitages and Himalayan power places. Pistono will illuminate how the pilgrims’ inner journey creates a shift in their perception of the terrain as wilderness to conceiving of it as a sacred topography in which the mountains and rivers, streams and glaciers, the very pebbles upon which their boots fall, are woven into a blessed landscape.

About the book:
Nineteenth-century Tibetan mystic Tertön Sogyal was a visionary, whose mastery  Read More 
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