LAMA Kalsang Nyima

Lama Lhari-la Kalsang NyimaLama Kalsang Nyima is the resident teacher for Ligmincha Mexico.

Lama Kalsang Nyima was born in 1970 in the village of Tad, province of Dolpo, western Nepal. Dolpo is culturally Tibetan and home to 14 Bonpo monasteries and many great Bonpo masters. Lhari-la's family includes many great practitioners, among them his grandfather Lama Lhagyep Rinpoche. Renowned as a dzogchenpa, Lama Lhagyep took his vows in Tibet from the previous incarnation of Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, the revered master Khyung Tul Rinpoche.

At age 9 Lama Kalsang became a monk at Samling Monastery, the oldest and most important monastery in Dolpo, where his grandfather was head teacher. Samling was unique in having preserved many copies of texts destroyed in Tibet during the Chinese Cultural Revolution; and is well known as the home of nine of the 24 masters of the Zhang Zhung Nyen Gyud, all of whom achieved the rainbow body.

For 12 years Lama Kalsang trained intensively at Samling in the many methods of sutra and tantra. He completed his ngondro (foundational practices) there, as well as many personal retreats including powa (liberation at time of death), the 49-day A Kar A Me retreat, the 49-day Shenlha Okar retreat, the 30-day Phurba retreat, the 14-day Red Garuda retreat, and the 60-day Takla Membar retreat. He also completed these and other teaching cycles during a traditional three-year closed retreat. In addition, he learned the methods of divination of Yeshe Walmo and received the transmission and initiation (lung and wang) for many other sutric and tantric texts.

At age 21 he made the one-month walk to Kathmandu to begin four years of studies at Triten Norbutse Monastery under the close guidance of Yongdzin Tenzin Namdak Rinpoche, the most senior teacher of the Bön lineage. There Lama Kalsang's training was deepened and broadened to include all aspects of the traditional teachings from astrology and stupa building to ritual preparations and musicianship. Lama Kalsang also received a complete cycle of dzogchen teachings and innumerable initiations and transmissions, as well as initiations and training from His Holiness Lungtog Tenpai Nyima, spiritual head of the Bön tradition.

While training with Yongdzin Rinpoche, Lama Kalsang learned techniques of traditional thangka painting, for his master was renowned for his painting skills and had written a textbook on the subject. He deepened these skills at Ugyun Tulku's monastery in nearby Bhouda, during a five-year training under the master Chokyong Gonpo. After completing this course he returned to Triten Norbutse where Yongdzin Rinpoche asked him to help paint the entire cycle of Bonpo tantric mandalas; these images were later published in the book Mandalas of the Bon Religion.

In 2000 Yungdrung Lama, abbot of the Bonpo monastery in Sikkim, invited Lama Kalsang to teach in a school for Bonpo children at his monastery. There Lama Kalsang taught not only basic education, but also the Bonpo forms of music, chanting, rituals, painting, and torma making. Under his guidance the school grew from nine to 30 children, and he became responsible for running the monastery.

Lama Kalsang's expertise as a thangka painter led him to be invited to teach an advanced course for painters sponsored by a large museum in central India. The next year the museum invited him back to paint three entire rooms with Bonpo images, including the life history of Tonpa Shenrab, a task that took six months to complete.

During 2006 Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche paid many visits to Lama Kalsang's monastery in Sikkim and they came to know each other well. Tenzin Rinpoche invited him to the West to assist in many projects, and Lhari-la gladly accepted. His first task was to paint the entire series of images for the first Bonpo stupa in the West, in Torreon, Mexico, including a 40-foot mandala of Shenlha Okar, a task taking seven months to complete. Tenzin Rinpoche then asked him to go to Chihuahua, Mexico, to tutor the young tulku Jorge Rene, a joyful task that Lama Kalsang continues to pursue as time permits. In 2007 Lama Kalsang began collaborating with Tenzin Rinpoche to create a series of paintings that illustrate the detailed methods of the tummo meditation practice.