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Kalu Rinpoche

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Kalu Rinpoche

Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche (1905 – May 10, 1989) was a Buddhist monk, meditation master, scholar and teacher. He was one of the first Tibetan masters to teach in the West. Kalu Rinpoche (1905-1989) (Galu Renboqie): He was the only living holder of all the Shangpa teachings. He reincarnated in 1993.

Early life and teachers

Kalu Rinpoche was born in 1905 during the Female Wood Snake year of the Tibetan lunar calendar in the district of Treshö Gang chi Rawa in the Hor region of Kham, Eastern Tibet.

When Kalu Rinpoche was fifteen years old, he was sent to begin his higher studies at the monastery of Palpung, the foremost center of the Karma Kagyu school. He remained there for more than a decade, during which time he mastered the vast body of teaching that forms the philosophical basis of Buddhist practice, and completed two three-year retreats.

At about the age of twenty-five, Rinpoche left Palpung to pursue the life of a solitary yogi in the woods of the Khampa countryside. For nearly fifteen years, he strove to perfect his realization of all aspects of the teachings and he became renowned in the villages and among the nomads as a representative of the Bodhisattva path.

Teaching activity in Tibet

Kalu Rinpoche returned to Palpung to receive final teachings from Drupon Norbu Dondrup, who entrusted him with the rare transmission of the teaching of the Shangpa Kagyu. At the order of Situ Rinpoche, he was appointed Vajra Master of the great meditation hall of Palpung Monastery, where for many years he gave empowerments and teachings.

During the 1940s, Kalu Rinpoche visited central Tibet with the party of Situ Rinpoche, and there he taught extensively. His disciples included the Reting Rinpoche, regent of Tibet during the infancy of the Fourteenth Dalai Lama.

Returning to Kham, Kalu Rinpoche became the abbot of the meditation center associated with Palpung and the meditation teacher of the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa. He remained in that position until the situation in Tibet forced him into exile in India.

In exile

Kalu Rinpoché and Lama Denys at the Karma Ling Institute in Savoie

In the late 1960s Kalu Rinpoche began to attract Western disciples in India. By the 1970s, he was teaching extensively in the Americas and Europe, and during his three visits to the West he founded teaching centers in over a dozen countries. In France, he established the first retreat center to teach the traditional three-year retreats of the Shangpa and Karma Kagyu lineages to Western students. On request of Shoko Asahara, founder of Japan's controversial Buddhist group Aum Shinrikyo, Kalu Rinpoche lectured to his followers in a number of Japanese cities. The group was more mainstream at that time and had casual ties to a number of prominent Tibetan lamas, including the Dalai Lama.


June Campbell, a former Kagyu nun who is an academic feminist, acted as Kalu Rinpoche's translator for several years. In her book Traveller in Space: Gender, Identity and Tibetan Buddhism she writes that he subjected her to an abusive sexual relationship which he told her was tantric spiritual practice. She raises the same theme in a number of interviews, including one with Tricycle magazine in 1996. Cambell stirred quite a discussion and disbelief among Kalu Rinpoche's followers. She wait a full 18 years before publishing her works in a volume entitled Traveller in Space - a translation of dakini, the rather poetic Tibetan word for a woman used by a lama for sex. It took her so long to get over the trauma of the experience. She spent 11 years without talking about it and then, when she had decided to write about it, another seven years researching. She wanted to weave together her personal experience with a more theoretical understanding of the role of women in Tibetan society to help me make sense of what had happened to her.The imbalance is underscored by the insistence by such guru-lamas that their sexual consorts must remain secret, allowing the lamas to maintain control over the women. Since the book was published she received letters from women all over the world with similar and worse experiences."

Second Kalu Rinpoche

At 3:00 P. M., Wednesday, May 10, 1989, Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche died at his monastery in Sonada. On September 17, 1990 Rinpoche's Tulku was born in Darjeeling, India to Lama Gyaltsen and his wife Drolkar. Lama Gyaltsen, had served since his youth as his secretary.

Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche officially recognized Kalu Rinpoche’s yangsi (young reincarnation) on March 25, 1992, explaining that he had received definite signs from Kalu Rinpoche himself. Situ Rinpoche sent a letter of recognition with Lama Gyaltsen to the Fourteenth Dalai Lama, who immediately confirmed the recognition.

On February 28, 1993, Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche was enthroned at Samdrup Tarjayling. Chamgon Tai Situ Rinpoche and Goshir Gyaltsap Rinpoche presided over the ceremony, assisted by Kalu Rinpoche’s heart-son, Bokar Rinpoche. Situ Rinpoche performed the hair-cutting ceremony and bestowed on the young tulku the name Karma Ngedön Tenpay GyaltsenVictory Banner of the Teachings of the True Meaning. He is now known as the Second Kalu Rinpoche. (Note that the USA Kagyu organization, Karma Triyana Dharmachakra, recognizes Yangsi Kalu Rinpoche (1990 to present) as the THIRD Kalu Rinpoche; and Kyabje Kalu Rinpoche is listed as the SECOND Kalu Rinpoche.)

In the fall of 2011, Kalu Yangsi gave a talk at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver. At the end of the talk, a student in the audience asked him to comment on the prevalence of sexual abuse of children in the west. Kalu paused, then broke down in tears and revealed for the first time that he had been sexually molested from the age of 10 to 12 by the monks in charge of his education. Shortly after that a video appeared on YouTube. According to Kalu Rinpoche so that the story would not become unsubstantiated gossip.



Wikipedia:Kalu Rinpoche