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The Life and Legacy of
Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche

Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche (1938-2010)

Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche was a renowned scholar and meditation master of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He was born on May 10, 1938 in the Doshul region of Kham in eastern Tibet, near the sacred mountain Jowo Zegyal. On the morning of his birth, a small snow fell with flakes in the shape of lotus petals. Among his ancestors were many great scholars, practitioners, and tertons.

His family was semi-nomadic, living in the village during the winter and moving with the herds to high mountain pastures in the summer, where they lived in yak hair tents. The monastery for the Doshul region is known as Gochen Monastery, founded by the great terton Tsasum Lingpa, and his father’s family had the hereditary responsibility for administration of the business affairs of the monastery. His grandfather had been both administrator and chantmaster in charge of the ritual ceremonies.

Khenchen Rinpoche offering flower

Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche

Early Years Through Exile

Khenchen Rinpoche began his education at Gochen Monastery at age four. He entered Riwoche Monastery at age fourteen, completing his studies there just before the Chinese invasion of Tibet reached the area. Among his root teachers was the illustrious Khenchen Tenzin Dragpa (Katok Khenpo Ashe).

In 1959, Khenchen Rinpoche and his family were forced into exile, escaping to India. After the tumultuous period following their escape, in 1967 he was appointed head of the Nyingma department of the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies in Sarnath by Kyabje (His Holiness)  Dudjom Jigdral Yeshe Dorje Rinpoche, the Supreme Head of the Nyingma school of Tibetan Buddhism. He held this position of abbot for seventeen years, dedicating all his time and energy to ensure the survival and spread of the Buddha’s teachings.

In India, he continuously received many empowerments and teachings from Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche and Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, as well as many other great masters. In the holy places of Zahor Tso Pema, as well as in Kulu and Manali, he also did long retreats. In between retreats, he began giving philosophical teachings according to the requests of students, fulfilling their wishes and needs.

Khenchen Palden Sherab smiling

Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche

01 Guru YogaKhenchen Rinpoche Offering 7 Line Prayer
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Listen to Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche Offering the Seven Line Prayer

A Life of Dedication and Merit

Khenchen Palden Sherab

Venerable Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche at PSL

In this way, Khenchen Rinpoche studied, contemplated, and meditated to benefit himself, and taught, discussed, and composed teachings for the benefit of others. For both purposes, he turned the three wheels of (1) meditation, (2) study and contemplation, and (3) beneficial activities. As a scholar with purity and excellence, he helped the Buddha’s teachings in general, and Tibetan Buddhist religion and culture in particular, benefiting them both directly and indirectly.

flowers - image from PSL temple

In 1980, Khenchen Rinpoche began traveling to foreign countries, where he established over twenty Dharma centers and led thousands of students to the path of maturity and liberation. In 2006, Khenchen Palden Sherab Rinpoche and his younger brother Khenpo Tsewang Dongyal Rinpoche helped rebuild Gochen Monastery, so that it became even stronger and more beautiful than before. Due to various circumstances, they had been unable to do this for over fifty-five years. Gochen Monastery is one of the older monasteries in the Riwoche region. Tsasum Lingpa predicted that, in the future, a big monastery would preserve his teachings on the very spot where Gochen was later built. Lama Gyalwa established Gochen Monastery there, and it became the second mother monastery of Tsasum Lingpa.

Thinking to benefit beings in the future, Khenchen Rinpoche also wrote commentaries on The Sword of Certainty Wisdom by Mipham Rinpoche, known as Blazing Light of the Wisdom of Sun and Moon; a general overview of the meaning of Madhyamaka called Enjoyment Lake of Nagarjuna; The Oral Instructions of Kamalashila: Condensed Meaning of the Diamond Cutter; Opening the Eye of Wisdom, the essential meaning of Samten Migdron by Nubchen Sangye Yeshe; Opening the Door of Devotion, which is the biographical history of the great monastic institute of Sangpu Neutok; as well as other commentaries. Altogether, Khenchen Rinpoche wrote three volumes in Tibetan. In English, Russian, and Spanish, Khenchen Rinpoche’s teachings currently include over thirty volumes that explain the view, meditation, conduct, and final result of the nine yanas and four doctrines.

Gochen Monastery

Gochen Monastery in Kham, Tibet

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