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H.E. Kalu Rinpoche

11th Century Origins The Shangpa Lineage took shape in the 11th Century through the extra-ordinary study, practice and activity of Kyungpo Naljor. Having exhausted the teachings available in Tibet and still thirsting for deeper realization, he travelled through India meeting many realized masters of that time. Of the 150 masters he considered his root teachers, four were particularly close and of these, two were crucial to his teachings, Niguma and Sukasiddhi.

These two fully awakened women became the principal inspiration of the Shangpa Lineage through numerous teachings but specifically through their individual systems of Six Yogas (Inner Heat, Illusory Body, Lucid Dreaming, Clear Light, Transference, Intermediate State). As a way of guaranteeing the vitality of her teachings throughout the centuries to come Niguma sealed her teachings to a one-to-one transmission for seven generations later to be known as the Seven Jewels of the Sealed Shangpa Lineage.

Up to the 19th Century Over the centuries many illustrious names became associated with this Lineage. To mention a few...

14th Century: Tangtong Gyalpo was a renown yogi and engineer whose iron-link bridges still populate Tibet. He composed the practice of Great Compassion (Chenrezi) which is currently used by most lineages around the world.

16th Century: Taranatha was one of the most important Buddhist philosophers of his time, renown for further refining the understanding of emptiness. He also personally rewrote many of the Shangpa practice texts and commentaries.

19th Century: Kyentse Wangpo, and Jamgon Kongtrul Lodro Tayé significant religious figures from different lineages were both deeply involved in the non-sectarian movement. Close friends they were also both concerned with avoiding the disappearance of this especially profound Shangpa Lineage. Tai Situpa had just established for the first time the system of a group three-year retreat with its contemplative curriculum, and Kongtrul swiftly established at his own personal hermitage another such center following the Shangpa practice traditions.

20th Century: 1st Kalu Rinpoché - Tibet It was at this hermitage that Norbu Dondrup, the retreat master and holder of the Shangpa Lineage at that time, had a clear dream in which the protector of the lineage [Six Armed Protector, Shadrupa] informed him of the arrival of his successor. Such premonitions had become a normal feature of the first meetings of lineage holders of this tradition and their successors. In closed retreat at that time, Norbu Dondrup informed his attendants that he was expecting a special guest and whoever might arrive the next day should be invited in. When no one was shown in the next day, Norbu Dondrup asked his attendants if no-one had come. They replied that only a young 16 year-old and his yak had come and since he seemed not important, they had turned him away. The retreat master sent them urgently to find the youth. This young man turned out to be Kalu Rinpoché coming to apply to enter the Three-year retreat. Norbu Dondrup swiftly recognized him as his successor, gave him all the transmissions and led him in his retreat.

Following this retreat Kalu Rinpoché returned to his home where he studied Buddhist philosophy, medicine, astrology and other subjects for ten years. Deciding to renounce the comfort of this life, he then went off for 12 years of solitary retreat in a variety of mountain hermitages. It was only at the repeated insistence of his teachers that Kalu Rinpoché finally bowed to destiny and returned to the monastery to assume the responsibility of Retreat Master of his old retreat center.

20th Century: 1st Kalu Rinpoché - The World After some years the political climate became difficult, Kalu Rinpoché made his way to Lhasa to speak with H.H. the 16th Karmapa, and then, at the invitation of the Bhutanese Queen-mother, in 1956 travelled to that country to take care of a monastery. He later moved to Darjeeing, India, where, during the 60's, he became a magnet for young western spiritual seekers.

Karmapa asked Kalu Rinpoché to visit the west to see if it was a favorable ground for Dharma. This led to Kalu Rinpochéís first trip outside of Asia, in 1971-2, during which he created in Vancouver, Canada, of one of the first centers for the study of Tibetan Buddhism in the west. During his second trip abroad in 1974, he created a number of centers in North America and in France. On his third trip, in 1976 Kalu Rinpoché founded, in the center of France [at Kagyu Ling, Bourgogne], the first ever Three-year retreat center for western students. Having received the full transmission and training of the Kagyu and Shangpa traditions from Kalu Rinpoché, this group of men and women from many different countries emerged from retreat in 1980 as the first formally recognized western lamas, profoundly inspiring a new generation of western Buddhists. When he departed this world in 1989 Kalu Rinpoché had founded more than 60 centers and inspired many Three-year retreat centers around the world.

20th Century: Bokar Rinpoché From the time of his arrival in Darjeeling, Kalu Rinpoché had become the main teacher and inspiration for another incarnate lama, Bokar Tulku Rinpoché. Bokar Rinpoché studied and completed several Three-year retreats under Kalu Rinpochéís direction and became his acknowledged spiritual heir. Bokar Rinpoché went on to become the principal retreat-master and meditation master of both the Kagyu and Shangpa schools and deeply inspired Kalu Rinpochéís world-wide community of students with his kindness, depth and simplicity.

20th Century: 2nd Kalu Rinpoché In 1990, in Darjeeling a boy was born who was subsequently recognized by Tai Situpa as the 2nd Kalu Rinpoché. This recognition was acknowledged and confirmed by all the great teachers of the time. As he grew, it was evident to all present the immense love that Yangsi Kalu Rinpoché had for Bokar Rinpoché, and as soon as he was able, with Situ Rinpochéís encouragement, he took up residence at Bokar Rinpochéís monastery in Mirik. As the acknowledged heir of the Shangpa Lineage, Kalu Rinpoché received the full transmission of these teachings, and then at 15 years of age he entered into the Shangpa Three-year Retreat.

Having completed his Three-year retreat and re-established on his seat at his monastery in Sonada in India, the current Kyab-je Kalu Rinpoché requested his main teacher, Tai Situpa, to give him and his monks the full Shangpa Kagyu transmissions. In the summer of 2009, Situ Rinpoché gave Kalu Rinpoché this transmission but instructed Kalu Rinpoché to give this transmission to his monks himself. At that time, Situ Rinpoché asked Kalu Rinpoché to take on the task of giving the full transmission of this empowerment cycle 108 times during this lifetime.

Also during this transmission, hearing Kalu Rinpoché courageously trying to teach his western audience directly in English, Situ Rinpoché encouraged him to always teach directly in English, which Kalu Rinpoché has committed himself to do.

In each generation we find the close personal Dharma relationship between these illustrious beings emerging time and again; In particular we see the very close connection between Tai Situpa, Jamgon Kongtrul Rinpoché, and Kalu Rinpoché , all deeply rooted in a history forged at Palpung Monastery in Tibet.

So, with the full acknowledgement, empowerment, and love of his teachers, Kyab-je Kalu Rinpoché has assumed the challenge of incarnating the wisdom of the Buddha and of this illustrious Shangpa Tradition. This he is doing with heart, integrity, humor, and courage in a form and style that fits this modern world of the 21st Century.

To learn more about H.E. Kabje Kalu Rinpoché
here are a few sites with information.

Samdrub Darjay Choling Monastery
International Seat of the Shangpa Lineage