Traleg Kyabgon

Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche IX (1955–2012) was born in Nangchen in Kham, eastern Tibet. He was recognised by His Holiness XVI Gyalwang Karmapa as the ninth Traleg tulku and enthroned at the age of two as supreme abbot of Thrangu Monastery. Rinpoche was taken to Rumtek Monastery in Sikkim at the age of four where he was educated with other young tulkus in exile by His Holiness Karmapa for the next five years.

Rinpoche then studied under the auspices of His Eminence Kyabje Thuksey Rinpoche at Sangngak Choling in Darjeeling. He studied with a number of other eminent Tibetan teachers during that time. Rinpoche mastered the Hevajra Tantra, Guhyasamaja Tantra, and the Third Karmapa’s Profound Inner Meaning (Zabmo Nangdon) under Khenpo Noryang (abbot of Sangngak Choling). He studied the Abhidharmakosha, Bodhisattvacharyavatara, Abhidharmasamuccaya, Pramanavarttika, The Six Treaties of Nagarjuna, the Madhyantavibhaga, and the Mahayanuttaratantra with Khenpo Sogyal. He also studied with Khenpo Sodar and was trained in tantric ritual practices by Lama Ganga, who had been specifically sent by His Holiness Karmapa for that purpose.

In 1967 Rinpoche moved to the Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, where he studied extensively for the next five years. He studied Buddhist history, Sanskrit, Hindi, English as well as Longchenpa’s Finding Comfort and Ease (Ngalso Korsum), Seven Treasuries (Longchen Dzod Dun), Three Cycles of Liberation (Rangdrol Korsum), and Longchen Nyingthig with Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and Khenpo Tsondru.

When Rinpoche had completed these studies at the age of sixteen, he was sent by His Holiness Karmapa to study for three years under the auspices of Venerable Khenpo Yeshe Chodar at Sanskrit University in Varanasi. Rinpoche was also tutored by khenpos and geshes from all four traditions of Tibetan Buddhism during this time.

Rinpoche was subsequently put in charge of Zangdog Palri Monastery (the glorious copper coloured mountain) in eastern Bhutan where he was placed under the private tutelage of Dregung Khenpo Ngedon by His Holiness Karmapa to continue his studies of sutra and tantra. He ran this monastery for the next three years and began learning to speak English during this time.
From 1977 to 1980, Rinpoche returned to Rumtek to fill the honoured position of His Holiness Karmapa’s translator at Rumtek in Sikkim, where he dealt with many English-speaking Western visitors.

Rinpoche moved to Melbourne, Australia in 1980 and commenced his studies in comparative religion and philosophy at La Trobe University. Rinpoche established E-Vam Institute in Melbourne in 1982, and for the next twenty-five years gave weekly teachings on classic Kagyu and Nyingma texts. After a break of a few years, Rinpoche established a Buddhist college called Shogam Vidhalaya at E-Vam Institute in 2010 and again instructed students on a weekly basis.

Traleg Rinpoche founded two more Dharma centres in Australia and one each in New Zealand and the United States. Rinpoche established Maitripa Centre in Healesville, Australia in 1997 where he conducted two public retreats every year until 2012. He also oversaw restricted annual retreats based on the traditional Tibetan three-year retreat format at Maitripa Centre. Rinpoche founded Nyima Tashi Kagyu Buddhist Centre in Auckland, New Zealand in 2004 and Yeshe Nyima Centre in Sydney, Australia in 2009, where programs that teach yoga and pranayama are regularly held. Rinpoche opened E-Vam Institute, New York in 2000 and established practice and study groups in Milwaukee and West Virginia. Rinpoche also accepted responsibility for the spiritual direction of Kamalashila Institute in Germany for five years during the 1980s.

Rinpoche was also active in publishing over a period of two decades, beginning with his quarterly magazine Ordinary Mind which was produced from 1997 to 2003, and culminating with his own publishing imprint when he founded Shogam Publications in 2008. Rinpoche released a number of Buddhist books on history, philosophy, and psychology and left instructions for the continuation of this vision with future publications.

Rinpoche’s ecumenical approach can be seen in other activities that were aimed at bringing the buddhadharma to the West. He established the biannual Buddhism and Psychotherapy Conference (1994 to 2003), the Tibet Here and Now conference (2005), and the annual Buddhist Summer School (1984 to the present).

Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche passed into parinirvana on 24 July 2012, on Chokhor Duchen, the auspicious day of the Buddha’s first teaching. Rinpoche stayed in meditation (thugdam) for a week after his passing. A traditional cremation ceremony was conducted at Maitripa Centre and a stupa has been erected on the centre’s grounds in Rinpoche’s honour.