Featured Teacher - Featured Teacher: Kalu Rinpoche


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Kalu Rinpoche (1905 – May 10, 1989) was a Buddhist monk, meditation master, scholar and teacher. He was one of the first Tibetan masters to teach in the West.

Born in Eastern Tibet in 1905 he was raised by his father and mother, both Dharma practitioners. His father was a recognized incarnation and at first refused to give his son to the monastery, opting to raise him himself. During his mother’s pregnancy, there were many wonderful signs that the child would be special. As a young child he showed remarkable compassion to all living beings and his intellect was keen After being admitted to Palpung monastery of His Eminence Tai Situ Rinpoche, he began his monastic career. At the age of thirteen, he gave his first Dharma teaching to many Rinpoches and Lamas. There were all very impressed by through knowledge of the scriptures and the understanding of its meaning.

After his three year retreat he decided to wander the high mountains practicing, not worrying about food or clothing. After spending almost twenty years alone in the mountains, he was asked to return to Palpung and serve as retreat master in the retreat started by Jamgon Kontrul. His activity started to spread throughout Tibet and he was recognized as the activity emanation of Jamgon Kontrul. Among his other incarnations were:, Ananda, attendant to the Buddha, Vairochana the translator, and Kyungpo Naljor who started the Shangpa lineage.

Before the Chinese takeover of Tibet, His Holiness sent Kalu Rinpoche to Bhutan to prepare for the exodus. There he established ChangChub Choling monastery, then moved to northern India in the Darjeeling area. At Sonada, he was given a small monastery and immediately began to rebuild, add on and start a Three year retreat. This monastery at Sonada serves as Kalu Rinpoche’s seat. In the early 1970’s His Holiness Karmapa sent Kalu Rinpoche to west to help with the establishment of the Dharma there. Arriving in Canada, people began to discover his depth of caring and wisdom. He traveled many times to many parts of the world and established many centers and three year retreats. His activity was vast and he affected many numerous people and set them on the path to freedom. In 1989 he manifested death at his monastery.

Kalu Rinpoche on Bardo

The Tibetan word “bardo” means literally “intermediate state” – also translated as “transitional state” or “in-between state” or “liminal state”. It is a concept which arose soon after the Buddha’s passing, with a number of earlier Buddhist groups accepting the existence of such an intermediate state, while other schools rejected it. Used loosely, the term “bardo” refers to the state of existence intermediate between two lives on earth. According to Tibetan tradition, after death and before one’s next birth, when one’s consciousness is not connected with a physical body, one experiences a variety of phenomena…

Taking Refuge

At this time we are exceedingly fortunate in that not only have we all obtained a precious human body, a precious human birth, but based upon this, we have actually entered the door of the Dharma, have given rise to faith in the teaching, and actually practiced it.

The entrance into the door of the teachings of Buddhadharma is the taking of refuge in the Three Jewels. If one does not go for refuge with faith to the Jewels, but rather goes for refuge to worldly deities, and is unaware of the qualities of the Three Jewels, then one is not a practitioner of Buddhadharma. Therefore, it is said that the root of the Buddha’s teaching is faith in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. Because without faith in these, one will have no conviction about the validity of the teachings, and lacking this conviction, as well as lacking the conviction about the qualities of the Sangha, one will be unwilling or unable to study the teaching. Even if one does study them, to some extent, it will be like the games of children.

The word in Tibetan for the Three Jewels, “konchok,” literally means “rare and supreme.” The first syllable, “kon,” means “rare.” It points to the fact that the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha are like the rarest of diamonds in that only someone with the karmic connection and the necessary merit will even hear their names, let alone be able to develop faith in them and receive teachings from them. The second syllable, “chok,” means “supreme” or “best,” and again, like the diamond in the example, the Three Jewels are supreme in that by relying upon them, all of one’s needs and wishes as well as ultimate freedom can be accomplished….

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