Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche (1920–1996) was one of the greatest teachers of Dzogchen and Mahamudra in recent times, whose lineage is now continued by his four sons, Chökyi Nyima Rinpoche, Tsikey Chokling Rinpoche, Tsoknyi Rinpoche and Mingyur Rinpoche.
Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche was born in Nangchen, in the province of Kham, eastern Tibet, in 1920. He began meditation practice at the early age of four, when he attended the teachings, which his father, Chime Dorje, gave to his many students. Already at four he had what is called a recognition of the nature of mind. Later he studied with his uncle Samten Gyatso, his root master, as well as with many other lamas of both Kagyü and Nyingma schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Among the lineage masters from whom he drew his inspiration were Milarepa and Longchen Rabjam—on merely hearing their names, tears would come to his eyes. .
In his youth he practised intensively, and stayed in retreat for a total of twenty years.
When he left Tibet he went to Sikkim and then settled in Nepal at Nagi Gompa Hermitage, in the mountains above the Kathmandu valley. He was the first lama to spread the Tibetan Buddhist teachings to Malaysia. In 1980 Tulku Urgyen went on a world tour encompassing Germany, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Denmark, Holland, Great Britain, the USA, Hong Kong and Singapore. In his later years, however, he did not travel much and his many students, both Eastern and Western, would go to Nepal to visit him.
He was famed for his profound meditative realization and for the concise, lucid and humorous style with which he imparted the essence of the teachings. Using few words, he would point out the nature of mind, revealing a natural simplicity and wakefulness that enables the student to actually touch the heart of the Buddha’s wisdom mind. In this method of instruction, he was unmatched.
Tulku Urgyen passed away peacefully on 13th February 1996 at Nagi Gompa. At that time the sky overhead was clear and completely cloudless for two days, which is traditionally seen as a sign that a highly realized master is passing on.
The yangsi of Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche, named Urgyen Jigme Rabsel Dawa, was born in 2001.
(compiled from various sources on the web, i.e. rigpawiki.org)
We think, we remember, we plan – and the attention thus exerted moves towards an object and sticks to it. This mental movement is called thinking or conceptual mind. We have many different expressions in Tibetan to describe the functioning of this basic attitude of mind, of this extroverted consciousness unaware of its own nature. This ignorant mind grabs hold of objects, forms concepts about them, and gets involved and caught up in the concepts it has created. This is the nature of samsara, and it has been continuing through beginningless lifetimes up to the present moment.
All these involvements are merely fabricated creations; they are not the natural state. They are based on the concepts of subject and object, perceiver and perceived. This dualistic structure, together with the disturbing emotions and the karma that is produced through them, are the forces that drive us from one samsaric experience to another. Yet all the while, there is still the basic nature, which is not made out of anything whatsoever. It is totally unconstructed and empty, and at the same time it is aware: it has the quality of being able to cognize. This indivisible unity of being empty and cognizant is our original ground that is never lost.
What we are missing is the recognition that our natural state is the indivisible unity of emptiness and cognizance. We miss that recognition because our mind is always searching somewhere else. We do not acknowledge our actual cognizant presence, and instead are always preoccupied by looking elsewhere, outside of ourselves. And we perpetuate this process continuously. Shantideva said, “Unless you know the secret key point, whatever you do will miss the mark.” The secret key point of mind is that its nature is a self-existing, original wakefulness. To identify the key point we need to receive the pointing-out instruction, which tells and shows us that: “The nature of your mind is the buddha mind itself” Right now we are like the dim-witted person who lost himself in Asan Tol (in downtown Kathmandu), who runs around wailing, “I’ve lost myself! Where am I?” The pointing-out instruction is just like telling him, ”You are you!” Through beginningless samsara, sentient beings have never found themselves until somebody says, “You are right here.” This is a metaphor for introducing the secret key point of mind.
If it weren’t for the buddhas’ teachings, all sentient beings would be totally lost, because they need to be pointed towards that basic ground which is always present, but never acknowledged. That is the purpose of the pointing-out instruction, literally, the ‘instruction bringing you face-to-face with your own essence’. This instruction is given impressive great names like Mahamudra, the Great Middle Way or the Great Perfection. All of these teachings point towards the same basic nature. They are the exact opposite of the conceptual thinking that holds a subject and object – the dualistic frame of mind that is unaware of its own nature.
It doesn’t have to be this way. We can know our own nature. We can realize it by applying the pith instructions of Mahamudra, the Great Middle Way and the Great Perfection. Even though our nature is primordially enlightened, we are oblivious to that fact. Therefore we need to become re-enlightened. First we need to recognize; next, train in that recognition; and finally, attain stability. Once we are re-enlightened, we no longer need to wander in samsara.
(from “As It Is”, Vol II)