Drupla Sonam Tsering

Drupla Sonam Tsering is one of the senior monks at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery and has undergone the traditional three-year retreat three times. In his own words, Drupla describes his training here.

At age thirteen, in Nepal’s Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling Monastery, I received ordination from Chokling Rinpoche and Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche. I then began to study reading and writing, along with the memorization of sacred texts, and continued this for a number of years. Later, I also trained in the traditions of Buddhist rituals, learning to make offerings, play musical instruments, and conduct ceremonies.

While learning these things, I became aware of the uniqueness of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, who was both an advanced scholar and Buddhist practitioner. Understanding that it would be difficult to meet such a spiritual guide in the future, I entered a meditation retreat at age 22 for three years with the hope of receiving initiations, transmissions, and instructions from Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche. After completing this, I commenced, at age 27, studies in our monastery’s college, where I trained in the Buddhist scholastic tradition for four years.

Then, through the kindness of my gurus, the blessings of the Three Jewels and my understanding that I acquired from studies, I began to feel a strong desire to renounce worldly affairs and to lead a meaningful life. Having obtained the permission of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche, I again entered a three-year meditation retreat.

Once I had finished my second long retreat, I began to work as a secretary in the monastery’s office, which I did for three years. At the same time, I also taught regular courses in translation at the Rangjung Yeshe Institute for a period of three years. I also frequently performed rituals for those who requested them, and I gave instructions on the Dharma to Nepali and foreign students.

Throughout this period, I felt an awareness of the impermanence of the world and a sense that my life may be going to waste. Once again, I requested permission of Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche to stay three years in retreat and began for a third time at age 40. After this retreat, Phakchok Rinpoche instructed me to help and instruct Buddhists in various centers in countries abroad. Happily having taken up this command, I am now engaged in teaching others the Dharma to the best of my knowledge and abilities.

—Drupla Sonam Tsering

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.