Biography of Jigme Trinley Ozer Rinpoche
A Succinct Biography Tracing the Realization
of the Illustrious Jigme T’hrinley Özer
Namo Arya Tāra ye!
Homage to the Noble Tara!
Within the basic space of Dharmakaya, there is freedom of elaboration;
Yet Nirmanakayas appear to beings in accordance with their needs.
Like one moon appearing in hundreds of thousands of bodies of water,
Praise unto you who unfurls the dance!
Here I shall articulate a little about the way the Rupakaya appears
As one who undertakes the courageous conduct of a Bodhisattva,
Conforming to the inclinations of impure beings
And causing the lotus of faithful disciples to blossom and open.
At the lotus feet of the Intrinsic Awareness holding Lama,
Who fully encompasses the undeceiving, constant source of refuge,
The one who embodies the Three Jewels and the Three Roots,
I bow down with my crown chakra of great bliss.
To set down in writing a mere synopsis of the life story of the Nirmanakaya, the reincarnate Lama Jigme T’hrinley Özer Pal Zangpo, first I will describe his country of birth. Nearby Nyag-rab Gang, in Nyag T’hren Drogdey, the seat of the Great Intrinsic Awareness Holder Nyima Drakpa, a place where tread many exalted and superior accomplished Intrinsic Awareness Holders, nestled in the community of temples of the monastery of Gyalphak Tashi Choeling, at the abode of the Illustrious King Gesar, in the year 1969, the sixteenth rab-jung, the year of the earth bird, on the waxing moon of Chotrul Dawa, at dawn, the mandala of marks and signs of the awakened ones was unfurled, replete with amazing auspicious signs. By the holy Lama Sonam, he was given the name Jigme Thrinley Özer.
At a tender age, without being taught, he displayed unmediated knowledge of such texts as the Praise to Manjushri, Karma Chagme’s Prayer of Aspiration to be Born in Dewachen, the Leudunma of Guru Rinpoche, the Ratnavali Confession Sutra, and so forth. Then, from his own monastery’s Lama, Lulam Thubten T’hrinlay Gyatso, an emanation of Drondul Karma Lingpa, he received the empowerments, oral transmissions, and instructions for the Konchok Chidue (The General Synthesis of the Jewels), The Shitro T’hred-Ts’hed Rang Drol (Cycle of Peaceful and Wrathful Self-Liberating all who Encounter it), Kagyed Derdue (the Easy Synthesis of the Eight Commands), the complete Gonpo TenSung cycle, and numerous others. At the age of eighteen, he took monastic ordination from the Supreme Khenpo, the Wish-Fulfilling Jewel, Yizhin Norbu Jigme Phunts’hok Jungnay, from whom he was given the name Thubten Samten Zangpo. From Jigme Phuntshok he received many cycles of teachings and empowerments of the Early Translation School, the Ngagyur Nyingma tradition.
Then successively, at the age of twenty-one, he studied with the sovereign holder of the Nyingthik teachings, Dzogchen Chokyi Gyalpo A-Dzom Drukpa Rinpoche, relying on him authentically through the three ways of pleasing him. He received the instructions for boundless Dharma cycles of the Nyingma Kama, as well as the Nyingthik Ngondro and Dzogchen Tsa-lung practices. He remained at his seat there, training tirelessly in these practices for a long period of time. At the age of twenty-six, Drukpa Rinpoche formally enthroned him on an indestructible golden throne, recognizing him as a supreme reincarnate Lama, a high Tulku. At the same time, Drukpa Rinpoche uttered the prophesy whose Vajra words are the medicine for the Dharma and beings, presenting Jigme T’hrinley Özer with many gifts, including a statue of the Buddha, a bell and vajra, a small stupa, and other gifts such as victuals.
Just as the Amdo community, headed by the Venerable Lama Jinpa, from the very seat of Paltrul Rinpoche, had supplicated with fervent regard, saying that there desperately needed to be a lama who would maintain the seat for Drukpa Rinpoche, the flower of Drukpa Rinpoche’s own word landed right on Jigme T’hrinley Özer’s crown; Drukpa Rinpoche proclaimed that throughout the entire world, it would be difficult to find anyone who would surpass this Lama as a regent of Patrul Rinpoche. With this and other words said, the principle master went to the Dharma Fortress.
With immeasurable kindness, Jigme T’hrinley Özer cared for all of the Lamas and monks, as well as the gathering of faithful lay students, guiding them with teachings on Ngondro, various empowerments, oral transmissions, and so forth. He was invited to Paltrul’s seat, the mountain hermitage of Samtsa, as well as numerous Dharma centers, monasteries, retreat lands, and so forth, where he taught on the law of karma, cause and effect, and on what to adopt and what to abandon; he bestowed empowerments, oral transmissions, and teachings, bringing down an immense rain of profound and vast Dharma. Then, just as the Master, the general body of students, and the written texts of his own monastery Gyalphak Tashi Choeling had importuned, he remained several years residing at his throne there since being formally enthroned on a golden seat.
There, in the Paltrul Rinpoche mountain retreat land, all the lamas and monks gathered accumulations and purified obscurations through the Ngondro accumulations, from the four contemplations that turn the mind to Dharma, up to the five requisite sets of one hundred thousand accumulations. There was a vast wealth of teaching and practice of the Gyalsay Laklen (the Practice of the Bodhisattvas), the Karika, and so forth. Urged by those who wished to take ordinations as novice or fully-ordained monks, Jigme T’hrinley Özer garnered the funds to buy a jeep transporter, and made other conducive circumstances possible, so all of the Lamas and students advanced to the Great Perfection, and he caused many people to ordain as novice and fully-ordained monks. Moreover, he bestowed extensive teachings, turning all to the path of virtue; at that monastery, he turned the wheel of the Dharma with the Yeshe Lama practice of Distinguishing between Samsara and Nirvana, “Khornday Rushen.” To the majority of people gathered, he taught Paltrul Rinpoche’s Ngondro, and other teachings, inspiring all to commit themselves to practicing virtue and abandoning non-virtue.
From Gyarong Wontrul, he received the entirety of the cycle of teachings of Nyidrak, the Nyidrak Choekor. From the crown ornament of the erudite ones of Amdo, known as Sets’hang Lozang Palden, he received the Three Principle Paths, the Lamrim, and other teachings such as the Ganden Lhagyama, and many other Dharma cycles of non-sectarian philosophical viewpoints. After receiving such teachings, he further contemplated their meaning and brought his understanding to total consummation. From T’hrom Akhyug Rinpoche, he received numerous Dharma teachings, such as the Dentsik Drupai Monlam (the Prayer of Aspiration that Accomplishes Words of Truth). In addition, from numerous emanated Lamas, great, awakened masters, he received empowerments, oral transmissions, and instructions, which he contemplated and brought to consummation. In short, his mind stream was filled to the brim with ripening empowerments, liberating instructions, and supportive oral transmissions.
Later, he was invited to come to the supreme vajra [seat] of the Omniscient Lama of Lower Amdo, by the Ngakpa community at the Lamasery of Tashi Khyil, who wanted him to be the main Lama to bestow empowerments, oral transmissions, and instructions there. Both of the Gungthang Jampayang Lamas supported the wishes of the Ngakpa community, saying that it would be appropriate for that very Tulku to be the Lama upon which the Ngakpa community at Sangchen Mingyay Ling relied for empowerments, oral transmissions, and instructions. It was only through the great compassion of this Lama’s heart that he acceded to the Ngakpa monastery’s invitation and came to teach there. When he went to Dzapon Ragen, all of the monastery’s abbots, tulkus, ordained, and lay community received him with veneration and respect. They formed a mutually deep and lasting relationship, importuning him to return there again and again in the future.
Lulam Chogtrul Thubten T’hrinley Gyatso said,
“All of you Lamas and monks at Hri-Lung Gonpa, listen here: Now I am old. My faculties are no longer sharp and clear. Therefore, all of you in the region and monastery should rely on this individual, Jigme T’hrinley Özer, as your unerring source of refuge for this and future lives. His service to sentient beings will surpass my own.”
Having made that address, in the year 2000, he himself, together with lamas, monks, and locals, publicly instated Jigme T’hrinley Özer on his golden throne. Only six months after completely transmitting and entrusting the doctrine of Hri-Lung Gonpa to Jigme T’hrinley Özer, Lulam Chogtrul passed away, demonstrating his parinirvana as he dissolved into the basic space of peace.
Many other great, awakened masters have commended Jigme T’hrinley Özer and expressed due confidence in him. Drukpa Rinpoche said that between himself and Jigme T’hrinley Özer, there was no difference at all, and he even put this comment down in writing. When Jigme T‘hrinley Özer went before Akhyug Rinpoche, Akhyug Rinpoche lovingly and warmly stroked the Tulku’s cheeks, saying,
“When I meet such a tulku as this, I am so filled with joy that I cannot even keep track of time and before I know it, the sun has already set!”
Dzogchen Pema Kalzang said,
“Even before the time of Patrul Rinpoche in Amdo, we had a deep connection. Now, too, as the representative of Dzogchen Tsang, I recognize you.” Later, to the entire gathering of Lamas and monks at Gyalphak, he continued, “I have offered a signed written statement to this effect.”
The Terton of Khaghya said, “I recognize my Lama in this supreme emanated Tulku here. It is undeniable.”
The second Milarepa, Chatral Sangye Ts’he Phel, made a prophesy that pointed to Jigme T’hrinley Özer as the undeniable mind emanation of Paltrul Rinpoche, and when requested to bestow the empowerment of the Great Compassionate One (Chenrezig) and a longevity empowerment at Sergyalgo Tashi Gonsar, he acquiesced and fulfilled the Tulku’s request.
When Jigme T’hrinley Özer went in the presence of Jamyang Lama Gungthang Tenpai Wangchuk, the latter said,
“You have been very kind to come to the temples at the Ngakpa housing and bestow empowerments, teachings, and so forth here.” With that, he offered him a statue of the Buddha Amitayus, and treasure chest with silks. Later, when Setsang Rinpoche came to give his regards to Gungthang Tenpai Wangchuk, he praised Jigme T’hrinley Özer, saying,
“This tulku of Paltrul Rinpoche is really an exceptional one.”
The Mahasiddha Taser Nam said publicly that in the past he had intuited that just as Paltrul Rinpoche had come to his own monastery and sustained everyone with empowerments, oral transmissions, and so forth, in the future, he would return again. “Now, meeting you, the prophesy is fulfilled,” he said. “Later, coming to your own monastery would be no small act of kindness.” When the tulku was five years old, and living under the rule of the law in this small area of the embassy of Ba Lithang, Taser the Mahasiddha also said with immeasurable caring and compassion,
“This very one is a great extraordinary being who will be the medicine for the Teachings and beings.” These words were clearly heard by others, including Lama Norbu Yonten. When Jigme T’hrinley Özer went to Dzachu, Lama Gyatsen Rab gave him his own golden statue of Amitayus, together with a sitting mat and silks, and said with great feeling,
“You must take this mani stone of Paltrul Rinpoche, and accept the responsibility of caring for the Teaching and beings.”
Now I will speak of the generosity and aid Jigme T’hrinley Ozer has given through impartially visiting holy sites, performing live releases, erecting supports for refuge and prayer such as stupas, and so forth. At such holy sites as the monasteries and temples of Lhasa, Samye inside and out, Sakya, Tashi Lhunpo, the three Gelugpa monasteries of Sera, Drepung, and Ganden, Kumbum, Riwo Tse-nga (the Five-Peaked Holy Mountain), Riwo Jakang, Langchen Gyingri (the majestic elephant mountain), Khawa Karpo (the white snow mountain), the ancient lake Mahadeva, T’hrokyab Thukchen, Laseng Bazhap Dragkar, and Gowo Norbu Lhatse, he performed pilgrimage and made offerings, always planting deep, vast aspirations for the benefit of the Dharma and beings. He made offerings numerous times at the Jowo in Lhasa. At the Five-Peaked Mountain in China, he built a great stupa of Do Kamaripa, which is imbued with inner and outer authenticity. In the Shedra of Adzom Rinpoche, he raised an enormous thangkha of the Eight Pioneers of the Lineage of Accomplishment, which stretched five stories high. To the general sangha assembly, he offered new robes and clothing and passed out money many times.
In Dzachu kha, in the stone building whose walls were built from stones carved with mantras, a building dedicated to the successive reincarnations of Paltrul Rinpoche’s line, he erected numerous new statues of Medicine Buddha, and gave necessities and substances needed, and all amenities.
In his own monastery, Gyalphak Tashi Choeling, he made generous offerings of golden crest, victory banners, the deer and Dharma wheel, throne coverings, ritual phurbas, and all the offering substances, including golden Buddha statues. To the entire community of Shedra students and long-term retreatants housed at Rapgang monastery, Osal Samten Ling, and others, he sponsored the building of golden crests, golden statues, and many other actual substances of support. To the monastery Hri-Lung Gonpa, he gave phurbas, five golden crests, sitting rugs, golden statues, ritual cymbals, seats, and other offerings.
Time and time again, he would lead live releases and ransom off the lives of animals that were due to be slaughtered. One time when he journeyed to the Amdo area, through unfeigned clairvoyance, he identified the actual prayer wheel that had once belonged to Paltrul Rinpoche.
When he visited the mountain retreat hermitage at Samtsa Chokhor, to the monastic and the lay community he bestowed Ngondro teachings, instructions for accomplishing the pure lands, and many days of empowerments such as longevity empowerments and Avolokiteshvara empowerments.
On one occasion, he asked a woman named Jomo Ngawang Tsomo if she had any idea of the whereabouts of a man named Drukpa Thar. She said she did not know who he was, and so Jigme T’hrinley Özer went to ask a Lama by the name of Tenpa, who was sixty years old. Tenpa said he did not know either, so he went on to ask Jomo Konchok, a seventy-eight year old woman. She did recall a man by that name, saying that she knew him when she was young, and that he seemed to have tremendous faith in Paltrul Rinpoche, and had served as his attendant. “Nowadays there is only one other person left who actually knows of him,” she said, leading a man of the age of forty to meet Jigme T’hrinley Özer. Everyone was crying out of joy. These individuals are still around today. In fact, the man asked Jigme T’hrinley Özer:
“When my uncle, Lulam Choktrul Rinpoche, passed away into the Dharmadhatu, the vast expanse of basic space, where were his remains placed?” Everyone discussed this among themselves, and decided to perform a special divination to determine where Lulam Choktrul had been cremated, and where his remains could be found. Four people, including Lulam Chimed Rigzin, went to look, and afterward, they rustled through the brush and pulled back many branches, asking each other where the remains could have been placed. Everyone was trying to decide what to do next when Jigme T’hrinley Özer suggested everyone go to Do Ra Karmo, “since that is certainly where it is.” Tulku Kunzang Jigme asked, “are you telling us a prophesy?”
Then Kunga Dorje said, “if even Lulampa’s lay students have told prophesies, we should have no doubt that this Tulku is capable of prophesy as well.” So saying, they followed Tulku Jigme T’hrinley Özer’s advice. When everyone returned, they were all amazed, because everything was found exactly as Jigme T’hrinley Özer had predicted. This caused everyone to gain confidence and trust in the Tulku’s abilities.
When His Holiness Yishin Norbu, the Wish-Fulfilling Jewel Jigme Phuntsok passed away, Jigme T’hrinley Özer went to the cremation. He drove his large jeep there, and when he arrived, he inquired about where to park it. Tulku Paljor looked around for a place, and finally motioned and said, “park it there.” Jigme T’hrinley Ozer replied,
“If I try to park it where you are telling me, the front of my jeep will get damaged.” Then Tulku Paljor replied,
“There are many jeeps lined up here, each worth fifty to sixty thousand. They have parked that way and have not incurred any damages. Your jeep will not get damaged. If it does, I will give you some collateral,” he said.
Later, when many jeeps were pulling in to deliver more firewood for the pyre, one jeep was carrying on its roof the actual bound-up remains of Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche. When it passed by, Jigme Phuntsok’s remains fell from the jeep and landed smack dab on the front of Jigme T’hrinley Özer’s jeep, leaving a huge dent. He immediately called Tulku Pajor and said,
“The front of my jeep has incurred damages, just as I intuited, so please hand over the collateral.” Tulku Paljor was stunned. Then later, the entire monastery of Hri-Lung expressed their amazement, because many people witnessed the way that the remains of Jigme Phuntsok had fallen from the roof of one jeep and landed right on the front of Jigme T’hrinley Ozer’s jeep.
“Even though the jeep carrying Jigme Phuntsok’s remains was about three feet ahead of Jigme T’hrinley’s jeep, the remains actually flew through the sky, defying gravity, and landed about eight steps backward right on the front of Jigme T’hrinley’s jeep!”
At the Dharma Fortress mountain retreat land, on the anniversary of the passing of Paltrul Rinpoche, amrita began to drip from the temple’s crystal, bell and vajra. Choktrul T’hrinley Gyatso said that it was a sign of the presence of the heart-mind of Paltrul Rinpoche. This was heard by Dawa the Chopon, as well as the entire assembly of monks gathered there.
One day, when the Hri-lung monastery was performing the ritual Torma offering to the Eight Holders of the Command, the northern Torma representation came shooting back like an arrow. Jigme T’hrinley Özer caught it as it was gliding through the sky, and everyone who witnessed it agreed that the miracles of the Lama’s aspirations were actually manifesting in front of everyone’s naked eyes. There are so many accounts of miraculous events occurring in conjunction with Jigme T’hrinley Özer’s life, such as the hand imprint he left in rock when he journeyed to the sacred five-peaked mountain, and many others. But let the above words suffice for now. Jigme T’hrinley Özer continues today in his unflinching mission to serve the Teachings and beings, acting as the caretaker for Hri-lung Gonpa, and a main benefactor and teacher for many other monasteries, including Rabgang Gonpa and Gyalphag Gonpa.
Herein I have written down a mere compilation of a biography—
Of the sole refuge, the wheel-turning monarch, Jigme Je-- the Fearless King.
I offer this before the eyes of the fortunate ones who wish it,
As a renewal of our unflinching faith.
Like so, this song in my throat which sings of the noble deeds of an awakened one,
Is an ornament for the ears of all who have faith.
I have expressed it truthfully, spurning misrepresentations,
Such as asserting what is not there, or denying what is there.
When the illuminating king of wisdom and compassion joyfully sends out light rays,
From the clear celestial sky of the Dharmakaya’s wisdom mind,
It is quite possible that the petals of the lotus of faithful ones,
connected by karma and aspirations,
Will open and unfurl, revealing the youthful blossom within.
By my efforts here, may the kūmūt flower of the two accumulations
Bloom when touched by the cooling rays of the full moon,
Simultaneously causing all beings without exception
To behold their true face, which has always been there from the very beginning.
Thus, the red hat Lama of Palri, Palri Zhamar, insisted that there needed to be a written account of this supreme Lama, so his student Tengyam respectfully recorded one. Then, urged by the repeated requests of the American named Julie (Adler), I, Minyak Jigme Rangdrol have made some additions and written this down as a more recent version. Finally, I have kept the meaning just as Tengyam had originally intended and have not made any changes in the contents itself. I have only fiddled with the words, making some grammatical changes where necessary and trying to make the text flow more poetically. The introductory verses, initial praise, traditional commitment to complete the work, and the four final verses of composition at the end have been written by Nyenshul Jamyang Drakpa, and I have embellished the biography by adding these here. This was completed in the year of the rooster by Minyak Sergyal. May there be virtue!
This was sent to Julie Adler in Los Angeles, CA at the end of 2005 and then,
translated by Vanessa Turner in Los Angeles, CA in March, 2006.