Amrita of Eloquence
Part One: Virtue in the Beginning
Part Two: Virtue in the Middle
Chapter One: The Greatness of His Birthplace
Chapter Two: The Greatness of the Time and Signs of His Birth
Chapter Three: The Greatness of His Parents and Family
Chapter Four: The Greatness of His Renunciation of Home Life for the Victor's Teachings and His Dharma Training in the Monastery
Chapter Five: The Greatness of His Learning, Reflection, and Meditation
Chapter Six: The Greatness of His Title and Place of Residence
Chapter Seven: The Greatness of His Skill in All Crafts
Chapter Eight: The Greatness of His Hidden Practice, Faith, and Devotion
Chapter Nine: The Greatness of His Wisdom Arisen from Meditation
Chapter Ten: The Greatness of His Creation of Supports and Gathering of Accumulations
Chapter Eleven: The Greatness of His Widespread Activity of Nurturing Disciples Through Empowerment, Transmission, and Instruction
Chapter Twelve: The Greatness of His Fulfillment of His Guru's Commands
Part Three: Virtue in the End
Longevity Supplications, Dedications, and Aspirations
The Eighth Chapter: The Greatness of His Hidden Practice, Faith, and Devotion
As regards practice, Rinpoche awakens early every morning and begins
to recite mantras using his mala. Wherever he is seated, his posture
is erect and his hands remain in a position like Lord Marpa’s.
Whenever he attends a communal ceremony, he sits up straight. However
because he keeps his practice extremely secret, I, a lowly person,
do not dare speculate about it.
I’ve heard Rinpoche’s sister Pema Lhakyi say to him
many times, “Rinpoche, why do you sit so straight and still
when you aren’t working? Why don’t you recite texts
or mantras? Wouldn’t that be a better use of your time?”
One day I said something similar to him. Rinpoche responded by telling
me the story of a lama who remained in retreat for his whole life
at Thrangu Monastery. While telling me the story, Rinpoche quoted
the lifelong retreatant as saying, “No matter which of the
four behaviors I’m engaged in, I have never strayed from the
When Rinpoche repeated this to me, I felt absolutely awestruck and
thought, “My supreme, kind guru, who has studied under many
holy beings, has become just like them! My perception of him has
been obscured by thinking of him as an ordinary, familiar person!”
Rinpoche has never identified his root guru by name, but we can
infer from many events in his life that Gyalwang Karmapa Rigpe Dorje
and Palden Khyentse Özer were his principal teachers. Rinpoche
also received the teachings of Tai Situ Pema Wangchok Gyalpo, Shechen
Khenpo Lodrö Rapsal, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, Traleg Kyapgön
Shedrup Chökyi Nyima, Shechen Kongtrul Rinpoche, Kyapjay Kalu
Rinpoche, and other beings on the levels, like the contents of one
vase being poured into another. Having received these instructions,
Rinpoche—unlike me—has not allowed his being to remain
ordinary. He has really achieved the same state of mind as that
of his holy masters.
This holy being is a hidden yogin of the true meaning. Even if I
declared this with my head held high in a gathering of hundreds
or thousands of people, I wouldn’t feel a sesame seed’s
worth of embarrassment, and I say this not because he is my uncle,
but in order to express my devotion.
Wherever Rinpoche is staying, he works constantly. He rolls dharanis,
fills statues with them, sews the brocade frames for paintings,
and makes and affixes drumheads for drums and damarus. He loves
to work with his hands.
He treats every disciple he meets with courtesy and affection,
touching heads in greeting and so forth. He continually extols the
single path trod by all victors and their children: the practice
of bodhichitta and mahamudra.
Rinpoche has tremendous devotion for the peerless protectors of
beings known throughout the three levels of existence as the Dakpo
Kagyu, including Tilopa, Naropa, and all the masters of this lineage.
In particular, the buddha predicted and praised the peerless Gampopa,
the source of the ocean of Kagyu siddhas, in many sutras and tantras.
In the Samadhirajasutra, which teaches mahamudra, it is
recounted that Gampopa in a previous life promised the buddha to
spread the mahamudra teachings throughout Tibet, the land of snow-covered
mountains. Rinpoche’s devotion for Gampopa is so great that
tears come to his eyes whenever he hears his name. While teaching
Gampopa’s Assembly Dharmas, Rinpoche cried like a
child amidst large numbers of people. In February of 2005, Rinpoche
taught the Gurusadhana of Gampopa at Karme Ling, our three-year
retreat. He started weeping from devotion three times during his
teaching, causing all the retreatants to feel intense devotion and
think, “This holy being is an emanation of Gampopa.”
I know this because we discussed it among ourselves afterwards.
In a newsletter from one of our dharma centers in Michigan, the
Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa is quoted as saying, “Khenpo Karthar
is learned in the practice of the three vehicles. He has all the
attributes of a bodhisattva, including great love for everyone.”
Once, when Khenpo Rinpoche became ill, one of his disciples asked
Tai Situ Rinpoche to compose a prayer for Khenpo Rinpoche’s
longevity. Situ Rinpoche did so and said, “Don’t worry!
He has the ability to remain alive for a long time.”
Recently when Khenpo Rinpoche entered his eightieth year, Bardor
Tulku Rinpoche, who has for almost thirty years worked together
with him in enacting the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa’s activity,
wrote the following, affixed his seal to it, and presented it to
In auspicious celebration of your eightieth year, I pray from
the bottom of my heart that you continue to remain alive for a hundred
kalpas for the benefit of beings and the teachings, and that your
activity flourish like a river in summer.
Offered by one called Bardor Tulku on the tenth day of the first
month in the Water Sheep Year.
Khenpo Rinpoche, this peerless illuminator of the teachings of the
lineage of accomplishment, applying the wondrous practice of luminous
mahamudra, continues to open the lotuses of fortunate disciples’
minds with the sunlight of his wisdom, leading them to the island
of liberation. For thirty years he has, with the utmost kindness,
born the heavy burden of the teachings here as commanded by the
Gyalwang Karmapa. For his whole life he has worked for the benefit
of beings and the teachings. I cast flowers of joyous praise at
him from the depths of my heart.
Whenever he speaks about either the Sixteenth or Seventeenth Gyalwang
Karmapa, Khenpo Rinpoche joins his palms in prayer and weeps with
devotion. The Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa once sent Khenpo Rinpoche
a letter, carried by Tendzin Chönyi. This letter was very kind,
and included the following:
I pray for your good health, and I join you in dedicating to
perfect awakening the virtue of your ceaseless service to the teachings.
Along with the letter, the Gyalwang Karmapa sent Rinpoche a painting
and some samaya substances. When Rinpoche received these, he wept
visibly, which I saw myself.
On another occasion the Seventeenth Karmapa sent Rinpoche a large
photograph of himself. The Karmapa had written on the photo the
words “Kunga Loter” in large letters. There must have
been a specific reason for this, but how could an ordinary person
like me even guess at it?
Your mind has been mixed with the blessings and quintessential instructions
Of the victorious father and sons, true buddhas.
Although there is no difference between meditation and postmeditation
You are always diligent in gathering great masses of merit.
Chapter Ten: The Greatness of His Creation of Supports and Gathering of Accumulations
Along with Kyapjay Bardor Tulku Rinpoche and Mr. Tendzin Chönyi;
and with the assistance of American disciples, Khenpo Rinpoche created
the great shrine room at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. Its central
image is a large statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, finely cast of copper
and gold. When it was being filled, Jamgön Rinpoche was present.
Khenpo Rinpoche says that Jamgön Rinpoche was extremely pleased
by the excellence of the supports, dharanis, and other materials
placed within the great statue.
To the right of the central image is a statue of the Sixteenth Gyalwang
Karmapa. The dharanis within this statue’s head were placed
there by Tai Situ Rinpoche. To that statue’s right are images
of Vajrasattva and Manjushri.
To the left of the central image is a stupa containing relics of
the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa. It is made of silver and gold and
finely decorated with jewels. To the stupa’s left are images
of Guru Rinpoche and White Tara. Our great shrine room also contains
the Kangyur, the Tengyur, parasols, victory banners, and paintings
of the golden garland of Kagyu gurus.
Our library contains the Five Treasuries and other works
brought by the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa from Delhi, including
many shastras composed by the learned and accomplished masters of
India and Tibet. Also in the library are statues of the sixteen
Our Tara shrine room contains finely cast images of the twenty-one
Taras, various other fine supports, and countless paintings.
On the second story of the shrine building, in front, is the lineage
shrine room, part of the Gyalwang Karmapa’s private suite.
This shrine contains statues of the golden garland of Kagyu gurus;
and a throne, table, and cushions finely crafted from the best materials.
All of the canopies, victory banners, and brocades for the Gyalwang
Karmapa’s throne; the meditation cushions for those attending
teachings; the brocade coverings for the altars and thrones; the
fabrics used in elaborate offering and practice assemblies; the
parasols, pennants, and victory banners throughout the shrine room;
and the brocade frames for two sets of paintings of the golden garland
of the Kagyu gurus were sewn by our great guru and Bardor Tulku
They have also given our monastery finely crafted horns, offering
lamps, skull-cups, mandala plates, and vases—all made of silver
and gold—as well as fine cymbals and all the things a monastery
should have. They have overseen the choice and creation of all our
images and offering vessels.
Once the shrine building was completed, both Rinpoches began to
present empowerments, transmissions, and instructions in it; they
continue to do so. They have also invited countless gurus of many
traditions who have nourished us with the dharma of ripening and
Every day at our monastery at 5 a.m. the Profound Essence of
Tara and various longevity supplications are chanted. At 5
p.m. offerings and supplications to the protectors are chanted along
with dedications and aspiration prayers. At 7 p.m. Benefiting
Beings Throughout Space, the Amitabha Sadhana, the
Seven-Line Supplication with the VAJRA GURU mantra, and
longevity supplications are chanted. These are all recited slowly
so that meditation and recitation can be coordinated.
Just before the Tibetan New Year the extensive ceremony of the protectors
is performed. Every year a weeklong, elaborate accomplishment and
offering assembly of one of our three principal yidams—Vajravarahi,
Chakrasamvara, and Jinasagara—is held. We also perform yearly
an elaborate accomplishment and offering assembly of Amitabha; an
offering ceremony commemorating the passing of the Sixteenth Gyalwang
Karmapa, Rangjung Rigpe Dorje; a celebration of the Seventeenth
Gyalwang Karmapa’s birthday; and other ceremonies.
Briefly put, who could fail to cast flowers of praise at our two
great resident lineage holders and Mr. Tendzin Chönyi, all
of whom would give up their lives for the teachings and the Gyalwang
Karmapa? They have, through harmony and pure samaya, created our
The fog of decadent times fills the sky.
Beings, unprotected, suffer terribly.
The buddha’s teachings are at risk.
Yet many great beings of all schools
Compassionately surmount a thousand hardships
In order to help the meek in foreign lands.
Although the Victors’ Activity passed away,
His activity has flourished because of these two heroes.
They will never give up, even if it costs their lives.
Their fame fills our world.
These supplementary stanzas just burst forth.
After the Sixteenth Gyalwang Karmapa’s passing, it was as though the sun had set behind the western mountains. However every sunset is eventually followed by the sun rising above the eastern peaks. In order to benefit beings and the teachings, the Gyalwang Karmapa was reborn and eventually enthroned at Tsurphu Monastery. Our kind guru and Lama Norlha attended the enthronement. When they first met the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa at his residence, although he was very young, he immediately exhibited his unfluctuating, unobscured wisdom. Smiling, he said to our guru, “Agama, you made it here!”
“Agama” was the term of endearment by which the Sixteenth Karmapa usually addressed Khenpo Rinpoche, which Rinpoche immediately remembered.
There are clear prophecies of the Seventeenth Karmapa by Padmasambhava—the second Buddha—and the great treasure-revealer Chokgyur Lingpa, as well as others. Especially, with clear foreknowledge of the future, the Sixteenth Karmapa entrusted the precious letter predicting his own rebirth to his great heart-son, Tai Situ Rinpoche. Therefore Khenpo Rinpoche was already irreversibly certain about the Seventeenth Karmapa’s identity before he met him. Nevertheless what need is there to say that when he actually saw the Seventeenth Karmapa’s face which liberates upon sight, and heard the Gyalwang Karmapa say things that proved his identity, Rinpoche’s faith and devotion increased?
At that first meeting, Rinpoche offered the Gyalwang Karmapa a golden reliquary. The Karmapa circumambulated it three times and then put it on. Then the Karmapa said, “Bald old monk, you’re very nice to me!”
The hair-cutting ceremony for the Seventeenth Gyalwang Karmapa was held at the Jokhang in Lhasa. Beforehand Tai Situ Rinpoche told Khenpo Rinpoche, “You must hold the Gyalwang Karmapa’s crown,” and gave it to him.
In 1990 when Jamgön Rinpoche visited the United States, he consecrated the land for our three-year retreat facility and exhibited great joy while doing so. Over several years, Khenpo Rinpoche built the men’s retreat, which he named Pawo Ling; the women’s retreat, which he named Kandro Ling; the Lama House, a residence for visiting masters such as Kyapjay Thrangu Rinpoche and their attendants; and the Ani House, a retreat facility in which nuns and other women can perform independent retreats of varying length.
The male and female monastics and laypersons who perform our three-year retreats learn written Tibetan beforehand; all of the liturgies used are in Tibetan. The retreatants gather at Karme Ling about three months before their retreat begins, and are instructed by experienced retreatants in written Tibetan and ceremonial practice. During this period, Kyapjay Thrangu Rinpoche bestows all of the empowerments for the retreat. Then in accordance with Tibetan custom, the retreat begins on the Holy Day of Descent from Heaven. During the retreat, the gurus invited to our monastery also visit the retreat and bestow teaching, guidance, and blessings. The instructions, transmissions, and practical training are given by our kind guru. He and Lama Tashi Döndrup from Rumtek Monastery have provided detailed explanations of every liturgy and ritual performed in the retreat; these teachings have been recorded and preserved on DVDs and audio CDs. With Khenpo Rinpoche’s permission, these recordings have been of great benefit to other retreats, such as Kyapjay Thrangu Rinpoche’s retreat in Nepal, Kyapjay Traleg Rinpoche’s retreat in Australia, and Kyapjay Trungpa Rinpoche’s retreat at Gampo Abbey, Nova Scotia.
Since founding Karme Ling Retreat Center, because of his responsibilities there and his advanced age, Khenpo Rinpoche has delegated the touring of our affiliate centers to Kyapjay Bardor Tulku Rinpoche.
Although you've crossed the sea of the two accumulations
You still amass millions of merits in every way that tames beings,
Such as ripening disciples through the quick path.