Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche is President and Spiritual Director of Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute in Melbourne and E-Vam Institute in the Upstate New York.
Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche was born in 1955 in Nangchen, Eastern Tibet. He was enthroned as the Supreme Abbott of Thrangu Monastery at age two by His Holiness Gyalwa Karmapa. Rinpoche had to flee his native land at the age of four and escaped with his party to Bhutan and from there to Rumtek, the headquarters of His Holiness the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa in Sikkim. Rinpoche was educated by His Holiness with the other young tulkus in exile until he was nine, when he went to Sang-ngak Choling monastery near Darjeeling and studied under the guidance of His Eminence Thugsey Rinpoche. While there he was taught exclusively by Khenpo Noryang and Khenpo Sodar for many years. In order for Rinpoche to receive training in Karma Kagyu tantric ritual practice, His Holiness Karmapa sent Lama Ganga from Buxaduwar to train him. Thus Rinpoche received both Drukpa Kagyu and Karma Kagyu training at Thugsey Rinpoche's monastery. Lama Ganga, originally from Traleg Rinpoche's Thrangu monastery, subsequently went on to lead three-year retreats at Samye Ling in Scotland and was eventually appointed the spiritual director of the KTC Kagyu centre in San Diego, USA.
At sixteen, His Holiness Karmapa sent Traleg Rinpoche to study at the Sanskrit University of Varanasi, where he had the opportunity to study with khenpos and geshes of all four schools of Tibetan Buddhism until he was nineteen. During this time Rinpoche was under personal care of Khenpo Chodar, also of Sang-ngak Choling monastery. He was subsequently put in charge of the Zangdog Palre Monastery (the glorious copper coloured mountain) in East Bhutan with many of the old monks from his own Thrangu Monastery, including Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche of Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, Woodstock. After Khenpo Karthar’s departure, Rinpoche was placed under the private tutelage of Dregung Khenpo Ngedon by His Holiness Karmapa in order to continue his study of Sutra and Tantra. When Rinpoche was twenty-two he returned to Rumtek to be with His Holiness Karmapa. In 1980, at twenty-five years of age, Rinpoche arrived in Australia and established Kagyu E-Vam Buddhist Institute two years later. Rinpoche was also the spiritual head of Kamalashila Institute, one of the main Kagyu centers in Europe, for five years.
Traleg Rinpoche was recognized as the ninth incarnation of the Traleg line by His Holiness the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa and was accorded the title Kyabgon, a significant distinction retained by only a few lineage holders of the Tibetan tradition. The first Traleg tulku, Nyima Tashi, was recognized by the seventh Karmapa and became the supreme abbot of Thrangu Monastery. The names of the nine Traleg tulkus are as follows: 1) Nyima Tashi, 2) Nyima Gyurme, 3) Nyima Salje, 4) Chogyal Nyima, 5) Trinley Nyima, 6) Yeshe Nyima, 7) Kunchab Nyima, 8) Shedrub Chokyi Nyima and 9) Tenpa Rabgye Trinley Nyima.
The Traleg line is one of the most important Kagyu tulku lineages in Tibet. It is traced back to the time of Saltong Shogam, one of the Three Men of Kham who were among the five closest students to Gampopa and the only students to receive the complete transmission of both Vajrayana and Mahamudra instructions from him. (A more extensive biography of the Traleg tulkus by Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche can be found at www.kagyu.org.)
Rinpoche regularly gives lectures and seminars world-wide on Buddhism and related topics, and has become well-known for his erudition, fluency in English and background in western psychology and comparative religion. He is especially respected for his skill in working with people of diverse interests, ages, and backgrounds. Rinpoche has both a strict traditional Buddhist education and a comprehensive Western education, holding a degree from La Trobe University and is currently engaged in academic research for a Doctoral dissertation.
Rinpoche inaugurated the annual Buddhist Summer School in 1984 and more recently the biannual Buddhism and Psychotherapy Conference. Both of these programs have developed into major national events in Australia and have hosted many well-known spiritual teachers, Western psychologists, and thinkers. His first book The Essence of Buddhism is in its third printing and has been translated into a number of other languages. His second book Luminous Bliss: Self-realisation through meditation has been published by Lothian Books. A more extensive edition of this is published by Shambhala Publications as Mind at Ease: Self-liberation through Mahamudra Meditation. A third book on Lojong entitled The Benevolent Mind: A Manual in Mind Training has been released by Zhyisil Chokyi Ghatsal Publications in New Zealand. Forthcoming books include an extensive commentary on Mind Training and an overview of Buddhist Tantra tentatively entitled Rays of the Sun for Shambhala Publications. Rinpoche is the spiritual director of E-Vam Institute in Melbourne, Australia; E-Vam Institute, New York in USA; Nyima Tashi in Auckland, New Zealand; and other affiliated centres.
Note: A short history of both Thrangu Monastery and Traleg Rinpoche can be found in an official book released by the Chinese Government, The Tibetan Monasteries of Gansu and Qinghai Provinces (Gan-Qing Zangchuan fojiao siyuan), Pu Wencheng (ed.), Qinghai Peoples’ Publishing House, Xining, 1990,