Ian first met Sogyal Rinpoche in London in 1977. He began to work for Rigpa shortly afterwards. While in London, he met all the great teachers who passed through the centre in those early years. He received teachings and empowerments from Kyabje Dudjom Rinpoche and Kyabje Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche on many occasions. In the 1980s, he was one of the first Western students to complete a traditional three year retreat.
Ian's contribution to Rigpa was enormous. He established a long-term retreat programme at Dzogchen Beara, Rigpa's retreat centre in Ireland, where so far more than 100 people have successfully completed long-term retreats.
He also worked hard to establish the Rigpa Shedra, or 'centre of learning', which is now in its sixth year and which has attracted many of the most eminent teachers of Tibetan Buddhism and numerous students from all parts of the world.
In the 1990s, Ian traveled extensively throughout America, Australia and all over Europe, giving talks, guiding countless students and clarifying their practice.
Ian played a central role in the development of the Rigpa curriculum which established a structured programme of study and practice for students throughout the whole Rigpa Sangha. He also played a major part in the planning and development of the three year retreat currently being held at Rigpa's main retreat centre, Lerab Ling, in southern France.
Toward the end of his life he became increasingly excited about developing new ways for Rigpa to take the Dharma into the business and professional world as an expression of the ideals in the 'Servants of Peace' chapter in 'The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying'. In fact, there is hardly an area within Rigpa today that Ian did not contribute to.
Ian Maxwell had a great command of Buddhist teachings and had an extraordinary talent for communicating the meaning of Vajrayana teachings and sadhana practice, making them accessible to everyone.
Towards the end of his life he placed great emphasis on the practice of loving kindness. He was an inspiration to many who knew him as an outstanding student of Sogyal Rinpoche and for his exceptional ability to communicate. Whatever question was thrown at him he not only displayed an extraordinary comprehension of the subject in question but also the student felt completely understood and grateful for his empathetic response.
In 1992, at the inauguration of Dzogchen Monastery in South India, he caught the eye of no less than His Holiness the Dalai Lama when he made a speech in his presence. His Holiness was impressed and was later heard to remark, “He seems a very capable person.”
Ian Maxwell passed away in Paris with several of his closest Dharma friends by his side. Phowa practice was performed on his behalf by many great lamas, including Kyabje Trulshik Rinpoche who was in Lerab Ling at the time. His funeral included, on his request, loving kindness meditation and chanting the Vajra Guru mantra.
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