Tibetan Buddhism

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Terton SogyalIn Tibet, there is a tradition of recognizing incarnations of great masters who have passed away. Sogyal Rinpoche, Rigpa’s founder and spiritual director, was recognised as an incarnation of Tertön Sogyal.

Lerab Lingpa Tertön Sogyal (1856-1927) was the incarnation of Nanam Dorje Dudjom, a disciple of Padmasambhava. Tertön Sogyal was a prolific tertön, a revealer of spiritual treasures, whose collected revelations fill 20 volumes.

He was a close student of the great masters Nyoshul Lungtok, Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo, Jamgön Mipham Rinpoche and Jamgön Kongtrul. His own many disciples included the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso (1876-1933), the Third Dodrupchen, Jikme Tenpe Nyima, and Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö.

It was Jamyang Khyentse who recognised Sogyal Rinpoche as the incarnation of Tertön Sogyal.


PadmasambhavaBuddhism was introduced to Tibet in the eighth century by the great master and saint Padmasambhava.

Padmasambhava or ‘Guru Rinpoche’, the ‘Precious Master’, as he is affectionately known by the Tibetan people, is the great master and saint who brought the teaching of Buddha to Tibet in the eighth century.

Guru Rinpoche established the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet at Samyé, and infused his blessing into the whole landscape of Tibet and the Himalayas. He is considered by Tibetans to be the ‘Second Buddha’.

It is to his compassion, his blessing and his all-encompassing vision that Tibetan Buddhism owes its dynamism, vitality and success. For the people of Tibet, the teaching of Buddha pervades the very fabric of their existence, every facet of their everyday life and culture, almost like the very air they breathe.

Therein lies the strength of the Buddhist tradition of Tibet, and also the reason why Tibet has for so long held a place in popular imagination as the spiritual ‘heartland’ of the planet.

“There have been many incredible and incomparable masters from the noble land of India and from Tibet, the land of snows, yet of them all, the one who has the greatest compassion and blessing toward beings in this difficult age is Padmasambhava, who embodies the compassion and wisdom of all the buddhas.” Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche


The BuddhaThe historical Buddha, Shakyamuni, attained enlightenment in India in the sixth century BCE.

“Over 2,500 years ago, a man who had been searching for the truth for many, many lifetimes came to a quiet place in northern India and sat down under a tree. He continued to sit under the tree, with immense resolve, and vowed not to get up until he had found the truth.

At dusk, it is said, he conquered all the dark forces of delusion; and early the next morning, as the star Venus broke in the dawn sky, the man was rewarded for his age-long patience, discipline, and flawless concentration by achieving the final goal of human existence, enlightenment.

At that sacred moment, the earth itself shuddered, as if ‘drunk with bliss,’ and as the scriptures tell us, ‘No one anywhere was angry, ill, or sad; no one did evil, none was proud; the world became quite quiet, as though it had reached full perfection.’

This man became known as the Buddha.”
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying – Sogyal Rinpoche

Buddha Shakyamuni, the Indian prince Gautama Siddhartha, attained enlightenment in the sixth century BCE. He taught the spiritual path known today as Buddhism.

Buddha, however, also has a much deeper meaning. It means anyone who has completely awakened from ignorance and opened to his or her vast potential for wisdom. A buddha is one who has brought a final end to suffering and frustration, and discovered a lasting happiness and peace.

During the Buddha’s lifetime, the influence of his teachings was confined to a relatively small area in northeast India. In the centuries after his enlightenment, however, Buddhism spread throughout the whole of the East.

Buddhism was introduced to Tibet in the eighth century by Padmasambhava, a great master and saint who is considered by Tibetans to be the ‘Second Buddha’.

Today, more and more people around the world are recognizing the tremendous gift that Buddhism has to offer, one offered with no notion of conversion or exclusivity, and to people of any faith or none.

These teachings hold the key to qualities that we urgently need today—the peace of mind to bring us inner strength, confidence and happiness, and the compassion and good heart to help us free ourselves from our destructive emotions.

In a world racked by turmoil and mental suffering, the Buddhist teachings could not be more practical. They speak to us all, and any one of us can put them into action so as to live our lives with more wisdom and more compassion.