Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche (1930-2002) was a renowned teacher of the Nyingma school. He was known and respected in the West for his teachings, and also for his melodic chanting voice, his artistry as a sculptor and painter, his limitless compassion, and his sense of humor. He was the source of treasured Nyingma lineage transmissions for the thousands of people whom he taught in North and South America, Asia, Australia, and Europe.
At three years old, Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche was recognized as the fourteenth Chagdud incarnation. As he recounts in his autobiography, The Lord Of The Dance:
For the next seven years, until I went into three-year retreat at the age of eleven, my life would alternate between periods of strict discipline in which my every move would be under the surveillance of my tutors and interludes in which my suppressed energies would explode. Throughout, I had many visions, many clairvoyant experiences, many extraordinary dreams, and within these, I sometimes had glimpses of absolute open awareness.
He received teachings and empowerments from some of the greatest masters of his time including, Shechen Kongtrul, the Sixth Shechen Rabjam, Bathur Khenpo Thubga, Jamyang Khyentse Chökyi Lodrö, Arik Rinpoche, Tromge Trungpa Rinpoche, Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and Dudjom Rinpoche who became one his main teachers. He also did many years of retreat.
He fled Tibet for India in 1959 when the Chinese invaded Tibet, together with his root teacher, Polu Khenpo Dorje.
In 1979, Rinpoche went to the US, where he taught throughout the 1980’s and established his main seat in the US, Chagdud Gonpa at Rigdzin Ling in Northern California, and a number of other centres.
In 1992 he received an invitation to teach in Brazil, where he established his main seat at Khadro Ling. He passed away in Brazil in 2002.
Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche was known for stressing pure motivation, or the cultivation of bodhichitta, in doing spiritual practice. He once wrote:
In the course of my Buddhist training, I have received teachings on many philosophical topics and meditative methods. Of all teachings, I find none more important than pure motivation. If I had to leave only one legacy to my students, it would be the wisdom of pure motivation. If I were to be known by one title, it would be the 'motivation lama.’