The First Shangpa Rinpoche
|Fig 1. The First Shangpa Rinpoche|
The first Shangpa Rinpoche was well-known in Tibet and Nepal due to his selfless love and compassion to everyone. His name was Lobsang Chophel but people addressed him as Shangpa Rinpoche so it became his name. This name is derived from his birth place, “Shang”, which is in central Tibet. It was the birthplace of many great masters in the past, most notably, Khedrup Khyungpo Naljor, the Shangpa Kagyu lineage founder was born there and established his lineage there.
The first Shangpa Rinpoche was born in the year 1879. His parents' names are not known but their family name was Trungkhang. He was the second of three sons. His elder brother was Lhagyal and the nickname of his younger brother was Aku Chungchung. From childhood, he already showed great interest in visiting Buddhist temples and paying respect towards Buddhist statues. He was also very compassionate in nature. When people used sticks or stones to hit domestic animals, he cried as if it was he who was beaten. At a very tender age he wished to be a monk. His parents found it difficult to object as he was so insistent and they brought him to a nearby monastery called Dechen Monastery; which is a Gelugpa monastery under the Tashi Lhunpo administration. He thus began learning everything that a monk needed to learn, such as reading and writing; memorizing texts, rituals and eventually philosophy. His studies continued until he was 24 years old.
Due to his diligence, wisdom and his strict observance of Vinaya vows, everyone addressed him as Shangpa Gelong (Bhikshu) as a mark of deep respect. At a young age, Shangpa Gelong was recommended to further his studies at a bigger institute where he could obtain a Geshe degree. He contemplated on his true purpose and realised that he was not after the fame or prestige gained through the Geshe degree. Instead, what he truly yearned for was to find a good spiritual master who would guide him in the example of Milarepa so that he could accomplish inner realisation.
One night, he quietly left his monastery and went all the way to Tsurphu where His Holiness the 15th Karmapa, Khakhyab Dorje resided. His Holiness the 15th Karmapa became his root Guru and he received from him and other Gurus, empowerments and instructions of many Kagyu and Nyingma practices, such as Rinchen Terdzo empowerments and instructions in the methods of practices. He spent many years receiving teachings and practicing at Tsurphu. He then went on to western Tibet to visit Mount Kailash, and did a retreat there.
From Tibet, he moved to Dolpo in Nepal where he met a great meditator called Gomchen Trinle Chophel. He received many special instructions and empowerments from him and in return, he also offered many Kagyudpa teachings and empowerments to his master Gomchen Trinle Chophel. In the spirit of mutual respect and collaborative learning, they exchanged their knowledge and realisations with each other.
- Next >>