The Venerable Chhoje Tulku Rinpoche was recognized at an early young age by His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche and His Holiness the 16th Karmapa as the reincarnated tulku of Chhoje Rinpoche VII. The current Venerable Chhoje Rinpoche VIII is a lineage holder of both the Nyingma and Kagyu traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
The young Chhoje Rinpoche with his teacher Sokste Rinpoche
When Chhoje Rinpoche was one years old, the 16th Karmapa prophesized that the previous Chhoje Rinpoche had incarnated in the village of Chemday, near Leh, Ladakh, in Northern India. Soon thereafter, His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche also recognized the young Chhoje Rinpoche, officially recognized him, granted him refuge in the traditional Buddhist ceremony. He told the young tulku’s parents that they needed to let their son fulfill his destiny as a lama and receive a traditional Buddhist education. Later on, Chhoje Rinpoche spent a number of years with His Holiness, studying closely with him and practicing under his guidance.
His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche
Rinpoche explains, “For me, personally, watching His Holiness’ infinite compassion for beings was the most powerful experience of my life.”
Rinpoche also studied meditation under the personal guidance of The Venerable Soktse Tulku Rinpoche, the Venerable Lama Acho Rinpoche, and His Eminence Khenpo Ngakchung Rinpoche. He received extensive empowerments from His Holiness Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. In addition, he received extensive philosophical teachings from the Venerable Thrangu Rinpoche, Khenpo Palden Sherab Rinpoche, Khenpo Thubten Rinpoche, Khenpo Dazer and Khetsun Zangpo Rinpoche. As a recognized lineage holder, he is fully qualified to transmit Vajrayana teachings and practices.
Chhoje Rinpoche first came to the West in 1983 to be with His Holiness Dudjom Rinpoche in New York City, where he was residing at the time. A few years later, Chhoje Rinpoche began to give formal teachings. In 1988, he founded Padma Shedrup Ling in Northern California. Since then, he has taught extensively throughout the United States, as well as India, Nepal, Japan and Greece.
While he has rigorously trained in the centuries-old traditions of Tibetan Buddhism, Rinpoche is a 21st century Lama whose ready command of English and familiarity with western culture make his teachings accessible to contemporary audiences. He offers his students instruction tailored to their specific needs and life circumstances. With his amazing insight into human nature, he is able to touch people’s hearts and to recommend practices and activities that will be of greatest benefit.
Chhoje Rinpoche at the entrance to Guru Rinpoche’s and Dakini Mandarava’s retreat cave, in Rewalsar, Tso Pema, India
Rinpoche completed a rigorous three year retreat in the summer of 2010. Shortly thereafter, he returned to Chumur Monastery in Ladakh, in Northern India – the monastery he had founded in his previous life – for the consecration of new prayer wheels, statues and construction. About 1,000 people gathered there to participate in a week-long practice, receiving teachings and celebrating Rinpoche’s return. At that time, he consecrated new prayer wheels, statues, monks’ quarters, classrooms, a library and to give teachings and empowerments.
Co-incidentally, Chhoje Rinpoche was Leh, Ladakh, in 2011 when a catastrophic cloudburst killed or injured hundreds of victims and destroyed homes, shops, bridges, and even massive prayer wheels. He provided critical support: counseling, medicine, practice for the dead, food, supplies and funds for rebuilding destroyed homes to the people of Leh, Choglamsar, Hanley and Chumur.
After that, he returned from Asia and the first public teaching he gave in North America was “Awakening Mind: The Field of Bodhi, a Teaching on the Heart Sutra” at a one week retreat in Loveland, Colorado.
Rinpoche’s current projects include the renovation of a former church-turned-dharma-center, called The Padmasambava Meditation Center in Denver, Colorado, which will be Chhoje Rinpoche’s North American seat; the construction of new buildings and the renovation of current structures at the Korseong Monastery near Darjeeling in west Bengal, India; and the creation of the Mandarava Retreat Land, which includes road building and the construction of a lakhang, a nunnery, residence and resident retreat center in Tso Pema, Rewalsar, Himachel Pradesh, India.